Written on Christmas Eve

I’m feeling a bit sentimental, but OK overall. Danny is here to help us set things us and that helps a lot. It’s been a morale boost for me, as well as a big help workwise. I’m honestly glad that the holidays are passing and that things are getting done. We’re running a psychology class here and we’ve been trying to promote it and get students enrolled with little to no help from anyone. I’m trying to stay positive and not focus on the negative.


I’m feeling listy, so here are the negatives:

  1. My room looks a lot like a Mexican prison cell. The walls are bright blue, and the whole place is filthy. There  is dirt everywhere, and a tiny metal bed in the center of the room. They gave me a thin grey wool blanket to keep warm, which helps since there is a GIANT HOLE in the ceiling. I have no idea what it’s for or where it goes, but I’ve been sleeping here for 5 days, endured one hard rain, and nothing bad has happened. I’m growing to like my Mexican prison cell. At least I don’t have to share it with anyone.
  2. The camp is desolate, and dirty. It’s a huge base in the middle of the desert, and as I walk across it, I keep recalling scenes from “The Road,” which, if you haven’t read it, is a post-apocalyptic and excessively dreary novel. I’m fairly sure I now know what it would look like if the world was destroyed and everything was covered in a fine grey ash. I also imagine it’s a lot like what the surface of the moon looks like. Yes, there are buildings and structures here, but they’re all hidden behind hescoes (giant barrels filled with dirt and wrapped in chicken wire) or T-walls (big concrete blocks). This adds a mazelike element to the camp, and makes walking a direct path fairly difficult if you don’t know where you are going. Filthy and confusing? Yes.

  3. This Christmas is different from my last 7 in a major way – I’m not spending it with anyone I love.



  1. I’m coming to the end of a challenging year, and I always love New Years. It’s a chance to start fresh, and invigorated.  I have lots of New Years resolutions, and I can’t wait to dive into them. Being in an isolated place should make it fairly easy to achieve success in ways that are harder when I’m at home. Basically, the temptation to have fun doesn’t exist here. Although I have played a few very exciting games of boggle!
  2. I have a great job. I mean, really. I honestly can’t think of something I’d rather be doing than traveling and helping people go to school that never thought they would. I feel really good about our program and I love the people that I work with and for. Plus, it enables me to live in Heidelberg, which is my favorite city in the world, where I am surrounded by some of the greatest and most interesting people I have ever known. I learn something new every day.
  3. There is a Ugandan guard that works outside of the MWR building where I have to go to use the bathroom. He is really nice and always happy to see me. And, his name is ROBOT. Yes, Robot. In addition to understanding what it would be like to live on the moon, I now know what I will name my firstborn child.
  4. Iraq makes 33 countries that I have visited.
  5. Today I found a huge sign that said ENTRANCE – EMPLOYEES ONLY attached to a concrete wall that was completely impenetrable.

  6. The sinks here consistently run warm. Every time I wash my hands (which is A LOT), I am happy that the water is warm.
  7. I am really good at boggle.


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