Polishing Up, Looking Forward, Reflecting

In some ways, this feels like my final USIP blog since I bid farewell to two of my colleagues at USIP this week. One of my supervisors will be in Malta for the next several weeks and one of the research assistants is off to Greece for a month to visit family. Neither will be back before my internship ends in a few short weeks, which makes me happy that D.C. is only a few hours from William & Mary. I promised to stop by and visit at some point during the semester, so I look forward to seeing everyone again. 

The plan originally was for me to add comparative examples to the memo I drafted last week. That changed slightly this week because my supervisors and I have decided to extend my research into the fall semester. Now, I will use my remaining time at USIP to polish my memo so that it can be of maximum use to future INPROL webinars and Afghanistan programming. This entails not only additional research and editing, but also setting up interviews with people around D.C. who work on freedom of information and anti-corruption issues. Fortunately, my colleagues at USIP are a great resource to help me know and connect with people around D.C. 

In the fall, I will complete an independent legal writing project doing an in-depth case study of a particular country's freedom of information law and how it uses such legislation to combat corruption. While the exact country that I will be researching has yet to be decided, I look forward to continuing my work with USIP throughout the year.

I haven't been very adventurous in terms of exploring D.C. or the surrounding area this week, so I only have one picture of a fun event held in the middle of the week - the annual BBQ Battle at the USIP cafe. The cafe workers went all out to provide a delicious lunch and patriotic atmosphere. The cafe was decked out in red, white, and blue, and speakers crooned summery music. A fun, mid-week office event to say the least: 

Unfortunately, not everything about this week was fun. Yesterday, I got a sad reminder about why the need for peacebuilders exists in the world. A young gunman opened fire on a military recruiting station and a naval reserve facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Four marines and the shooter were killed and a police officer was injured. The government is investigating whether this was an act of domestic terrorism. This hits particularly close for me since Chattanooga was my home for five years during college. The shooter graduated from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga in 2012, which means I was on campus with him, although I did not know him personally.

What motivated this act? Was it politics? Was it relgion? Was it both? (Though it looks unlikely at this point) was it neither? Did mental health play a role?

I'm sure we will find out more about the motives behind the shooting in the coming weeks. My thoughts revolve around those who were directly impacted as well as what role academics and legal professionals can and should play to combat violent extremism in all of its forms.

Since it is on my mind, here is a picture of my gorgeous college town, Chattanooga: