I was 10, we were on a new posting, and my Father had just become an Ambassador. I didn’t understand what it was, or what he did, nor did I care. It was just another move, another school, new friends, new country and new language.
I was having an incredibly difficult time adjusting to school, and culture shock had taken a hold of me, making me crippled most days. I remember vividly, at one point, having a meltdown after being told, I had to be a part of a dinner party. I remembered crying out with anger to my Father “I hate your job, it does nothing but brings suffering to your kids, so why should I take your feelings into consideration.”
My Father was crushed. I was 10, I didn’t care. In my head, I had sacrificed a lot for him and his career, even though I did not know what it was he did.
One day, my Father decided to bring me to work, only, he wasn’t stopping at work. He brought me to a hospital.
The hospital was a local one, it was decrepid, sad, paint was pealing off the walls, lights flickered on and off. Cockroaches were scurrying everywhere. The hospital gave me nightmares. I followed my Father into a small room, where he greeted someone else from the embassy. There was a small girl lying on the bed. She had pale skin, brown hair. She had bruises everywhere. She was caucasian.
She was from my birth country. She had apparently been violently beaten, and they thought sexually assaulted. She made her way to the hospital. She had no insurance, had been backpacking. The embassy only knew her name. The were hoping she would wake up and help track down relatives back home.
My Father looked at me, and said “this is what we see everyday, Our fellow country men and women get into trouble, and we have to figure out how to get them out of jail, or home, we can’t afford to pay their bills, but we visit, we track down their families, we work with lawyers, and officials.”
I was shocked. The girl in the bed was the same age as my older sister. She looked so thin and fragile. So alone. I never thought of the embassy as helping, it was a tiny part of their job overseas, but my Father would always take it upon himself to visit the hospital if he could.
From that moment on, that lesson stuck with me. I didn’t understand the political stuff my Father did until I got a little older, but I never made a fuss over his job again. I felt if I were ever sick or in a bad situation, I would be lucky to have someone like my Father visiting me, and trying to help me.