Iraq: Week 2 / by Janet Eckles


Last week was relatively uneventful. After some major exporting issues, I finally finished my first video for PLC (you can view it here). I’ve just started on my next project, which is a story about a Syrian dad who’s pretty awesome, and I’m very excited to keep working on it.

On Thursday the interns successfully made it to the conversation night that we missed last week (yay, us!). 50-60 local Kurdish people attended. I had the opportunity to practice English with some Kurdish women who didn’t know much, and it made me realize how much I take language for granted, in general, and with my friendships back home. The women I got to speak with were very sweet and kind, but trying to have a conversation in broken English is exhausting! I have a greater appreciation for ESL teachers now. I’m looking forward to attending later this week, where I’m determined to find someone who knows who One Direction is.

One thing I’ve been super bummed about is that I haven’t been able to take photos here yet (besides all the Insta posts-sorry for flooding your feeds). It’s either been too dusty outside, or I’m too tired from the heat to go out and shoot after work. Last week I bugged a coworker who’s a very talented photographer (I fangirl a little bit around her, it’s casual), and asked her to take me shooting with her over the weekend. My awesome boyfriend (who is also pretty cute, I guess) bought me some lenses for my birthday (including a 50mm 1.8, which I’ve really wanted for the past 6 months), and I had been dying to test them out. So on Saturday afternoon, my coworker and her Kurdish friend took us to the Bazaar, which is just full of story and photo opportunities. We started in the older quarter and wandered through, sampling food and taking photos as we went. My kind of day! Here, I learned that Turkish Delight is a real food, and doesn’t just exist in Chronicles of Narnia (did anyone else know that?). Fruit juice is a popular drink here (literally just the juice from fruits—they don’t add anything, unless it’s salt), so we went to a shop, and were treated with typical Kurdish hospitality. The main vendor kept bringing sample after sample to our table, until each one of us had about six different glasses of juice to try. They were all amazing, except the grapefruit.

It’s getting hotter here, which is normal for summer anywhere, I guess. Just when I think I’m getting used to the feeling of constant leg sweat, I hear someone say, “Just wait ‘til July”! And that makes me nervous. It’s supposed to be 112 tomorrow and Wednesday. Wooh!

For those of you still wondering, the job hunt for when I return is…going. I’ve applied for seven jobs over the past two days, and for those of you who are familiar with my fleeting attention span, this is a miraculous feat. I also had a Skype interview for an AmeriCorps VISTA position in Des Moines on Tuesday evening. The position is with an awesome organization that provides services to prevent homelessness, and provides care for those who are already homeless. It had already been a long day for me, and I was feeling a bit emotional by the time the interview rolled around. When they asked me how I became interested in helping the homeless community, I got halfway through my answer and then just started crying. Yep, I cried during a Skype job interview sesh. The poor women conducting the interview tried their best to console me, and make the situation less awkward, which I appreciated, but it’s hard to come back from that. At least I’ll be a memorable candidate, eh? Haha. We’ll see if I hear back from that one.

Anyway, stay tuned for photos (I got one of an adorable old man at the Bazaar that I’m particularly excited about)!

-June 6, 2015