Why I Went to Kirkuk

Posted by Rachna Korhonen
April 23, 2010
Iraqis Walk Through Central Kirkuk

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.



California, USA
April 23, 2010

Masood in California writes:

Hello Rachna,

Your courage is inspiring and encouraging for Americans of all different origins. Since you know Hindi, Panjabi and Urdu I would ask, App kay see hain?

sohel b.
April 25, 2010

Sohel in Iraq writes:

Dear friends in department of state, my question is about IOM in Baghdad, we finished our interviews with IOM and DHS addition to medical checks in the end of 2009, our visits to Baghdad was too dangerous and even my dad was injured in big explosion of the bloody sonday in 2009, this too long time till today and we don't get answer from IOM, each day we spend here is a real struggle for survive, please open your doors for Iraqis whom works with USF special interpreters families, parents and brothers/ sisters.

God bless you

Virginia, USA
April 25, 2010

Susan in Virginia writes:

Bless you for your passion and dedication. And a big Army Hooah! Safe travels.

Rachna K.
June 5, 2010

DipNote Blogger Rachna Korhonen in Iraq writes:

Susan: Hooah right back at you!

Masood: bahut badiya chal raha hein.

Sohel: you need to follow up with IOM, I know they are doing their best to process all their cases.

New Mexico, USA
June 6, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Hi Rachna,

Thanks for taking the time to respond to the comments, and I'd like to add to Susan in Virginia's Hooah to your PRT!

"..It's who we are, it's what we do."
-Barak Obama

Ya done good, made us proud, and the Iraqi's as well. Done themselves proud too with a lot of hard won progress, with a little help from their friends.

Do you think anyone is suprised as we hand Iraq back to the Iraqi's with no bill for "services-rendered" attached?

I don't hear much about "blood for oil" from the usual syncophants and critics any more, do you?

Speaking strictly from an observational standpoint, I think the Iraqi's have been well outspoken in declaring that yes indeed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"Saddam was our weapon of mass destruction."

They were killed, captured, put on trial and hung until dead by the Iraqi's themselves.

And who say's there's no justice in this world, eh?

Now in some cultures when you save a man's life, you are responsible for his actions on this Earth from that point on while he lives upon it..good or bad.

But only half so, the other half it that man's responsibility to live his own life, now that he's got one left to live.

Same is true for nations in some respects.

Now that doesn't mean we are going to milk his goats for him (but I know of a PRT team leader known for dipping sheep...chuckle). It's his life to live after all as he sees fit and do his part in living it, is my point.

There's an element of karma attached to the deed and in some cases it would be insulting to the person saved not to accept a tangible form of thanks even though the favor requires none.

"De nada" as we say in New Mexico. "It's nothing." Even though it has cost lives and treasure. It was necessary.

So speaking for myself as an average citizen not directly involved in the process but in accepting the thanks of one people to another, and personally to those from Iraq posting here with my best regards in solidarity; This is what I'd like to see you folks in Iraq do for us here in America, and I leave it up good thoughts, good words and good deeds to become manifest in time...

I don't think it's a lot to ask that the Iraqi people stand up and do democracy better than us, after all the cradle of civilization has a reputation to uphold.

As high as that bar may be set, I doubt I'm setting it any higher than the average Iraqi's are themselves.

'nuff said.



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