New EPIC Intern: A Journey from Baghdad to Washington, D.C.

My name is Taif Jany and I am one of EPIC’s 2014 Spring Interns. Born and raised in southern Baghdad, Iraq, it is heartbreaking for me to see what my country has come to.  Due to the unfortunate events that escalated after the 2003 war, my family and I were forced to leave Iraq. In 2007, we sought refuge in Damascus, Syria where we stayed for almost two years.

Taif Jany at Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.

In Damascus, I joined the Iraqi Student Project (ISP), a program which helps war-displaced Iraqi students acquire their undergraduate degrees in the United States. I was accepted to Union College in Schenectady, New York, and arrived to the United Stated in August 2008. In 2012, I graduated from Union with a B.A. in Sociology and French. Studying at Union College was an eye-opening experience. It allowed me to integrate, connect, and exchange cultural experiences with American students and professors, encouraging a dialogue that I believe to be critical to improving the relationship between my home country and the United States.

During my senior year at Union College, I was fortunate enough to intern at the office of Congressman Keith Ellison. This experience gave me working knowledge of how legislation works and helped me better understand American domestic and foreign politics and policies. Upon graduating from Union, I interned at the Arab American Institute (AAI), Congressional Quarterly (CQ Roll Call), and Mennonite Central Committee-UN office in New York City. These academic and professional experiences have helped me better understand American society and culture.

Before arriving to the United States, one of my goals was to work with an organization that bridges the gap between my country and the United States by helping to rebuild the relationship between these two countries, improve the lives of my fellow citizens, and reestablish a more peaceful Iraq. The Iraqi Student Project was the first step that inspired me to advance this goal. This is what brought me to EPIC. As an Iraqi citizen, I believe that EPIC is the perfect fit for me. I am very excited to work and share my experiences with the EPIC team and look forward to all of the upcoming learning opportunities that help me to improve my professional knowledge in the field.

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