“That’s not a real country. Where are you going?”

On oh-dark-hundred Sunday morning, I dropped Doc* off at SeaTac for a flight to Dulles. She’s been training a lot of therapists in a new PTSD treatment technique, and this is no different.

Okay, this one is a little different. From Dulles, she was bound for Vienna, Austria; from Vienna, a flight to Erbil. From Erbil, a four-hour or so drive to Sulaimaniyah… Given the time difference, I’m guessing she’s arriving there right about now.

Okay, so maybe this training is a lot different.

She’ll be working with a couple of NGOs to translate training materials into Kurdish and Arabic, and to train community health providers to treat Kurds tortured by Saddam Hussein’s Baathists. The efficacy of her treatment will be compared to that of another short-term therapy.

This all came together very quickly, maybe over the span of a month or so… Her mentor from graduate school was initially approached to do this, and she recommended Doc. It’s exciting as well as good work – and as developing countries go, relatively safe even for Americans; how could we say no? So she’s in Kurdistan for two full weeks, with a couple days travel time and an extra day to decompress in Vienna on the way back.

Skype will be our friend…

(Title from Doc’s dad’s reaction when she told him “I’m going to Kurdistan for a training!” Yes, she was trying to deflect attention from the fact that this is legally still Iraq, even if Sulaimaniyah has been effectively independent since 1991. Obviously he didn’t fall for it, not that she really thought he would.)

[edited @ 1:00PM 9 March to add: they evidently ran into a sandstorm (!!!) en route from Vienna and were temporarily rerouted to Syria (!!!); she’s safe on the ground in Erbil and spending the night in a hotel there. Well, we always knew it was going to be an adventure… (also edited to clarify that it’s Vienna, Austria and not Vienna, VA – an improbable but not impossible confusion if you’re familiar w/ Dulles & the Northern VA/Metro DC area.)]

*Doc: my wife. Got tired of always writing about her as ‘my wife’ when she’s got, like, an actual identity. And a pretty well-defined one at that (as this probably illustrates). Ergo, Doc.[back].

4 Responses to ““That’s not a real country. Where are you going?””

  1. spyderkl Says:

    It does sound like that training will be a lot different from what she’s been doing. Pretty exciting, but a little anxiety-inducing too.

    Hoping everything goes well for the next two weeks…

  2. protected static Says:

    She’s already into the swing of things – she’s finally in Sulaimaniyah, and already working with the translators and trainers on a planning session. Really, the differences are setting and (to a lesser degree) the target population – she’s worked individually with survivors of torture and ethnic cleansing before (refugees from the former Yugoslavia & from ethnic warfare in central Africa), but not on this scale. Fortunately, she’ll be able to keep some emotional distance since she won’t be conducting individual therapy.

    Yeah, it’s a little anxiety inducing, but our running joke has been that we don’t object to her going to conferences in places like Baltimore… (The guy who recruited her for the trip thought that was pretty funny since he’s based out of Baltimore @ John Hopkins.)

  3. Doug Says:

    Best of luck to Doc. It’s opportunities like that which make me regret choosing the life I chose. If we had nearby family that (A) could help out and (B) my wife could tolerate, maybe I could entertain such thoughts.

    Hey, stop snickering. Iraqis have ear wax, too.

  4. protected static Says:

    Boogers Without Borders? Les Snottes Sans Frontières?

    (Would snot be masculine or feminine in French?)

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