About the Author: Rachna Korhonen currently serves as the Governance Chief with the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kirkuk, Iraq.
Why did I volunteer to serve with the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kirkuk, Iraq? Because I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to serve my country. In November 2007, I was the control officer -- the person who makes sure everything runs smoothly during an event or trip -- for Ambassador Krajeski and Ambassador Thomas. They were traveling from Kuwait to Iraq, and their enthusiasm for the work being done in Iraq convinced me that I needed to volunteer. Soon thereafter, I find myself in Kirkuk, Iraq, and it has been an amazing experience.
I feel as though I am the perfect representative for what an American is: I am an Asian American of Indian Origin and married to a Finn. I speak Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, French and some Finnish along with my New Jersey-accented English.
The first question Iraqis ask me is: "Iraaqiya?" When I say no, they ask, "Pakistani?" And then they ask, "Hindiya?" I finally just say, "Amrikkiya!"
They love the fact that I am so passionate about being an American, and then I get to talk about how Iraqis can have a similar pride in their country, as the multitude of ethnicities only makes each person more important to the country.
What happens here in Iraq will reverberate throughout the region, and I believe Iraq will set an example of what people can do when freedom can be lived, not just imagined.