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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Secret Agent Man

agentsHe strode from the downtown building in suit and tie and sunglasses, lanyard I.D. tag hanging from his neck, and portfolio under his arm.  His hair was gelled, his sideburns longish, but trimmed, he sported a full 5:00 shadow most days not long after lunch.  The whole look conveyed “professional”, “polished”, and “going places”.  The young man was tired, yet didn’t show it, having put in his first, full day at headquarters.

This was my son, I’ll let you figure out which one.

Not yet 17, and headed into his senior year in high school, our boy had been selected from applicants DSC_0219across the nation.  His group numbered approximately 44, and they mirrored the “best of the best”—high GPAs, outstanding essays, motivation and drive to the max.  Offers came his way every day, and indeed, this week, he was scheduled for another amazing opportunity, in addition to his part-time job, but the government was calling.

Not that this was a career offer or anything.  It wasn’t even top secret, since, as the saying goes, they got the t-shirt stating:  “Future Agent in Training”.  Monday and Friday were suit-and-tie days, while the rest of the week found the guys and gals in polos embroidered with the field office logo, khaki pants and dress shoes.  One day, they traveled by bus to Quantico, to a replicated town called “Hogan’s Alley”, replete with pharmacy, hotel, bank, restaurant, and used car lot, where they simulated a “situation” which unfolded before them with trained actors. 

fait_students_notesThey were allowed to wear tennis shoes that day, and had to run from building to building for training, while collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses concerning a bomb blast, and a bank robbery.  They even ran to the cafeteria, with all claiming that the Marines, who also had rights to the place, ate well.

The other days they were sequestered in conference rooms for lecture after lecture, with lunch brought in to them.  Nothing to write home about, but then, our guy is spoiled in terms of high-class cuisine.  Impressive enough to have lunch provided for on a daily basis.

Counter-terrorism, surveillance, undercover work, intelligence, cyber-threats—the students heard about it all from our nation’s best.  Their cell phones didn’t work inside the buildings which blocked out all distractions, and which required multiple I.D. tags, with hand sensors and heat sensors throughout.  They relaxed in a sprawling, interior courtyard where K-9 units were being put through their paces, and marveled at an underground shooting range where the agents proved their prowess.  The students had to be escorted to the restrooms in groups.

Friday meant graduation, with two adults allowed to attend.  We submitted our particulars to be cleared US-NationalCounterterrorismCenter-Seal.svg1_for security the month prior.  Many of the kids, we learned throughout that morning, came from families with TS clearance (that would be “top secret”).  They represented all walks of life.

We watched a news clip on the program (http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/08/fbi-training-program-teaches-students-how-to-be-future-agents-92505.html) and heard from professionals who praised our sons and daughters taking copious notes for hours on end in classroom settings, and springing into action in the field.  With the government downsizing right and left, who knows where this might lead in the future, but for now, the smiling handshake in front of the Justice Department seal, receiving the graduation certificate, and an official photo snapped, was enough.

It was refreshing to hear of officials working in public service to help our country.  Many of their Information Technology employees could be making three times as much in the private sector, but they chose to work for America’s betterment and safety.  Our son heard about potential and actual threats to the U.S. and how every citizen could be alert.

That, in itself, was a pretty good thing.

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