"I had developed these strong friendships with these people, but could not really help them and could not control what was going on. I wanted to do that, but on a bigger scale."
"My extended family was initially pretty shocked and concerned. “Why Iraq? Is it really safe?” But my parents were used to me travelling, and they knew my heart was in the Middle East when I was going through my career search. Given how things developed so quickly last summer with ISIS taking over, they had kind of seen it coming and I had too. They have been really supportive. " They must see images in the media, though. What do you say to them, to let them know you are safe? "It helps that I’m 100 percent transparent with them. I tell them what are the risks to my safety, what are the security precautions we’re taking. I’ll tell them when a car bomb goes off just to remind them where I was when it happened, and that [in those attacks] they are not typically going after foreigners. Providing more information makes them more comfortable and aware." Are there any security precautions you take as an American woman living in Iraq? "As a woman, I can’t take taxis by myself. I am not allowed to walk around at night by myself. And we are always tracking our movement. When I go for a walk in the neighborhood in the afternoon, I tell someone where I’m going. I am not allowed to run in the neighborhood anymore—it attracts too much attention. During Ramadan, there was a much higher risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, so we weren’t allowed to go to any of the malls and some of the grocery stores were off limits."
"When I go for a walk in the neighborhood in the afternoon, I tell someone where I’m going. I am not allowed to run in the neighborhood anymore—it attracts too much attention."
"I have to act a lot older than I am, or at least speak with confidence. That’s what I’ve found."