Week 1 In Baghdad!

My first week in Baghdad was very exciting, and I am still adjusting to the new lifestyle. This summer, I am working with DPK Tetra Tech on USAID’s Iraq Access to Justice Program. The primary objective of Access to Justice is to develop a legal aid framework in Iraq by working with law schools, Iraq’s attorneys, local NGO’s, and government officials.
After travelling from Las Vegas, Nevada, for 39 hours, I arrived in Baghdad International Air Port. Security Staff met me in the airport and escorted me to an armored vehicle, and I dawned my PPE (person protective equipment), which was a flak jacket. Three armored SUV’s then escorted me to our secure compound. I was showed to my apartment suite complete with a private bathroom and a full kitchen; apparently, my accommodations here are envied by other staff. I was given a full tour of the compound, the dining facility, the gym, and the Iraq Access to Justice office building. I met the staff members including my direct supervisor, and everyone was very nice. I met some of the Iraqi staff, who were excited to learn I speak Arabic. They are now helping me learn the Iraqi dialect. I’ve been adjusting well to the compound lifestyle and have made many friends. The staff gets together to hang out and relax throughout the week, and Dinko, our Operations Director, hosts a barbeque every Thursday night.
I will be working on several projects that I am very excited about, including developing assessment tools of Iraq’s legal clinics and advocacy work to pass laws supporting legal aid in Iraq. I am very excited to be working here and have this unique experience!