Tuesday, June 01, 2004

In the heart of Baghdad's military-protected Green Zone, where Cara Scherer lives and works, the petite foreign service officer stepped away from the war's stress and did something for herself: She helped start a weekly salsa night.

She found a dance partner. She met a deejay from Puerto Rico.

"I usually have to talk the GI's into putting down their guns before they twirl me around," Scherer said. "It's a little surreal."

The 28-year-old arrived in Iraq Feb. 20 and has since put in long, demanding days as a U.S. public affairs officer, working mainly with the Iraqi press corps...

After June 30, when the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority intends to hand over authority to the Iraqi government, she will become the assistant administration officer for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Scherer knows that, even within the Green Zone, Baghdad is a dangerous place -- but she believes the work is well worth the risk.

"I think we're all optimistic," she said. "That's why we work together and continue to do what we do. We all care about what happens to Iraq and each other."...

Her goals are to help facilitate a free press and show people that Iraq is progressing. Schools are opening, police forces are being trained, agriculture is improving, she said.

"There are so many good stories that you won't see here in the American press that I see every day," Scherer said. "You know, there's a lot of hope, and there are a lot of hard-working Iraqis that are making big strides."

No comments: