As Nesreen, the visiting Baghdad teacher, and I do our tour: Putting a Human Face on 'collateral damage' I am often asked, "How did you connect with a teacher in Baghdad?"
After a workshop at John Dewey High School, Brooklyn NY I promised the students I would get them email contact with students in Baghdad. Of course I had no idea how I would accomplish this and left in a minor panic.
As a good New Yorker I turned to our most powerful tool: networking! I emailed, wrote, called, and collared every person I knew.
1. Terry Shutte, a friend from high school days, put me in touch with a friend who works for an Arab-American newspaper.
2. The reporter knew someone in Washington, D.C. who “does something with the Middle-East.”
3. That person, from Global Exchange, knew someone she thought worked with Iraqis.
4. That someone works for The Center for Nonviolent Communication and pointed me to a man who “might be able to help.”
5. The CNVC man knew of a doctor who traveled the world treating war-traumatized children, and “she was in Iraq.”
6. But when I contacted the trauma doctor she told me
that she could only do her work for six to nine months at a time. The emotional
load of working with these violence-damaged children became too much for her
from time to time. She had left Baghdad and was back in London for some much
needed rest and recuperation.
6. But when I contacted the trauma doctor she told me that she could only do her work for six to nine months at a time. The emotional load of working with these violence-damaged children became too much for her from time to time. She had left Baghdad and was back in London for some much needed rest and recuperation.
She sensed my disappointment and said, “Don’t worry. I have the email address of a taxi driver in Baghdad and he knows everyone!”
7. I wrote to the taxi driver and he put me in touch with a woman he thought was involved with education in Baghdad.
8. I emailed the woman and she said, “My sister is a teacher here in Baghdad. I will ask her if she wants to contact you.”
9. And then Nesreen wrote these words to me:
Sent: Friday, March 05, 2004 6:37 AM
Subject: Re: A request for High School age contacts in Iraq and Afghanistan
I’m ready to help. But let me tell u something first. I’m also a teacher in (XXX), a high school for girls. I’ll ask my friends, students, and colleagues to help and share ideas with u.
Well, OK, it's eight degrees of separation, but who's counting?