Week 1 at US Institute of Peace

My first week at US Institute of Peace is complete! I must admit that just approaching the building is intimidating. It’s a relatively new building that has such beautiful and unique architecture. It’s on the National Mall by monuments and other government agencies and offices. After I got over the initial mystique of the USIP building, I began to meet people around the office. Everyone seems very nice and there are many other young Research Assistants, so that makes for a pleasant work environment. There are so many impressive teams, initiatives, and experts. I work on the Rule of Law Team, specifically on the International Network to Promote the Rule of Law initiative that is partially run by USIP. Over the course of the summer, I am generally to focus on updating our Afghanistan Rule of Law materials, which has not been done in several years. First, I am organizing and categorizing all of the sources we have on Afghanistan Rule of Law, then I will go through and vet them to confirm whether the materials are still accurate and current. Next, I will add resources to the digital library. This type of on-going assignment allows me to get exposure to a wide variety of perspectives and materials that speak to Rule of Law and Afghanistan.

I am also fortunate to be able to attend events that USIP hosts. The building is often frequently rented out for events that do not necessarily involve USIP. Every week, it seems that an interesting group of scholars and practitioners are gathering at USIP to discuss topics related to conflict management and peace building. So far, I have attended an event about the increasingly popular method of short self-made documentaries in Pakistan to advocate on behalf of peace and counter narratives of violence. I have also now learned about several USIP-led radio projects in various countries like Iraq and Sudan, where USIP coordinates with on the ground experts to program radio dramas that build into the plot lines peace friendly language and stories.

On my team and I think probably for most teams here at USIP, the attitude towards the mission is facilitative. USIP wants to provide credible information so practitioners and citizens around the globe can be well-informed about conflict zones. While USIP does take positions on certain strategies, techniques, and conflicts, often USIP serves primarily to facilitate dialogue. While the office is fairly spread out, I hope to meet many other people and become familiar with other initiatives in various regions across the globe. While I did not get hired initially to work specifically on Afghanistan, I am actually quite pleased that I will be focusing on that region. I really want to learn more about the Rule of Law field that is  evidently still very much in need of knowledge development. Moreover, I have a general interest in the Middle East and am certainly invested in conflict management and peace building principles. I am so pleased to be here!