“Now, about Iraq….”
We wish we had money for every time someone has asked about our future plans with that sentence!
There are a number of questions we’ve been asked and a number that we have overheard, so to simplify things here is a list of frequently asked questions.
- You’re moving where? We are moving to Northern Iraq or Kurdistan. It is officially called the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and is an autonomous region. We will be living in Ranya, a city located about two hours from the capital, Erbil.
- What will you be doing? We will both be working for the University of Raparin, a public university located in Ranya. I will be working for the School of Nursing, and Cliff will be working on grants and research administration.
- Why are you going to Iran? We aren’t. We are going to Iraq, again specifically the Kurdish region and called Kurdistan.
- But…isn’t it dangerous? In talking with people at the university and others who live there, we are confident that it is safe to live and work in the area. We will not be foolish, and we will respect and learn from those around us as we navigate the area, but we are not worried and we are not afraid. One of my favorite quotes on safety comes from an essay called “The Proper Weight of Fear” by Rachel Pieh Jones. “Safety is a Western illusion crafted into an idol and we refused to bow.” This quote perfectly sums up our feelings. The closest we have ever been to a bomb attack is Boston and the Marathon Bombing when we were in lockdown for 12 hours in 2011.
- Why are you going to Iraq? In 2015, we had an opportunity to go to Iraq for a humanitarian aid trip. Cliff had gone earlier in the year, and the area had made a mark on his heart. The same thing happened to me. When we returned from that trip three years ago, both of us confessed our desire to return. It is a miracle that we were both offered jobs at a time that couldn’t be more perfect. My journal reflects this desire over the past three years, a desire I was afraid to voice.
- Aren’t you leaving great jobs in Boston? Yes. Yes we are. Again I’ll quote from Rachel: “Sitting in an armchair and watching the world implode on the 6 o’clock news, that felt more damaging to our souls than the risk of moving to Somalia.” (In our case, than the risk of leaving good jobs and moving to Northern Iraq).
- How long will you be gone? Our contracts are renewed yearly and our personal commitment will be two years and then look at what is happening at the university and with our family.
- What do your kids think? Our kids are incredibly gracious. They know our heart love for the region, but even as adults, it’s not easy losing a home base. Many of you have read about our cottage in Rockport – we are keeping Rockport and plan to be there for 2 months every summer. Cambridge and Rockport will be our home bases.
- You’re SO brave! (Said with admiration) No. No. I promise you, we are not brave. We are excited, and we are adventurous, and we like to think we have a high tolerance for ambiguity, but no – we aren’t brave.
- How will we communicate with you? The same ways we communicate now – email, WhatsApp, Facebook, this blog already has a section linking posts about our life in Northern Iraq. Our world has amazing ways to communicate and we will take advantage of those.
- How can we help? Thank you for asking! First off, if you are someone who prays, we would ask you to pray for us. Second, we still have a lot to do before September second, we would love to have you get involved by donating $25 to two projects at the school of nursing. You can read more about them here.
So, we are incredibly grateful to you – readers, friends, and family for going on this journey with us. Part of the joy of the journey is finding traveling companions – and that is you.