The First Pancake is Always Lumpy

Первый блин всегда комом.  The first pancake is always lumpy. This is the Russian idiom my supervisor, Margarita, used to describe my first week. I think I prefer trial by fire.  Due to some interesting timing on my part, I arrived in Rome just in time for both other members of my team to flee the country. My first day of work, and I am the only representative of the Central Asia Team at IDLO Headquarters. In fact, my co-worker’s out-of-office reply says, “For urgent matters, please contact Hannah Needleman.” Me. Hannah Needleman. On my first day. Yep. That’s my name!

Not to fear, however, for while alone, I was not lonely. Everyone in IDLO welcomed me warmly, introducing himself or herself, taking me out to lunch, and even inviting me to a Macedonian ballet (thanks, Yolanda!). In fact, I even live with someone from IDLO! (Our apartment has been called the “IDLO halfway house” because seemingly everyone has lived in it at some point.)

During my first week, I was able to learn about the projects that I will be involved with this summer. As referenced above, I am a member of the Central Asia Team. We currently have projects in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan – and yes, I had to look up how to pronounce those last two. Essentially, these countries have economies that have been developing faster than their judicial system, and the judiciary simply can’t keep up. That’s where we come in. We provide judicial training and apprenticeship programs to train judges in commercial law, and we help create a legal database so that decisions and outcomes are more consistent.

Already, I have worked on a donor report detailing our activities in Mongolia, and I have started a proposal for the drafting of the new Tajikistan Civil Code. This is just the beginning. I can’t wait for everything that is yet to come.