Last night I attended a reception at the Adnan Palace to celebrate Turkish Armed Forces Day.
Adnan Palace was Saddam's son, Uday's palace, it's inside of the IZ.
I walked into a room of about 70 military men from all over the world. Flashes started going off and as my eyes adjusted from the flashes it was quite clear I was the only woman in the room. It was one of those cliche moments you dream you've showed up to a big presentation naked or something. I took a deep breath and put on my smile. As I scanned the room, I knew about 5 people at the reception. It didn't take more that 30 seconds for a colleague to approach me, but those 30 seconds seemed to last an eternity.
As I listened to the Military Attache recount the significance of Armed forces day. I looked at the crowd I was standing alongside and tried to figure out how in the world I got to this palace.
Pushing aside awkward feelings of being the only woman in the room I decided this is what it feels like to work in a male dominated field. If I could make it through this reception, I could make it in this international arena.
A Ukrainian, an Iraqi, an Italian and an American sit down for dinner ... not a joke! I got the best seat in the house. The men who rounded the end of the table where the funniest men at the reception. Not surprisingly one was an Italian! You've read my reviews on their Embassy and my growing dreams to move to Italy -- last night simply continued cultivation.
My company was not simply diverse, keep in mind they are all Commanding Generals or Defense Attaches of their respective countries. The Iraqi I sat next to told me I remind him of his daughter and that I should remember him like my father. He looked at me and said, “Thank you America, Thank you, America.”
Across the table, the General said, "Look at us, we are from all over the world and we are sitting together. Before, the Baath party would’ve cut off food to your family and had you hung for trading secrets with foreigners. It’s only been 5 years, and look, we are having dinner together.” As he spoke his eyes watered with emotion, and it the most significant moment of my time here so far.
The food was delish too!