CISR in Sudan 2012: Preparing for the big trip
The official birth of a new country is a rare occasion, and rarer still when the process can be orderly and peaceful. On 9 July 2011, CISR staffers watched as the Republic of South Sudan secured its hard-won, long-desired independence.
The moment was especially meaningful for those of us who worked on the 2011 Senior Managers’ Course in ERW and Mine Action. From mid-May to mid-June, CISR hosted 17 senior-level managers of landmine-remediation programs on the campus of James Madison University. As with all of our programs (but more so with an in-residence course like the SMC), a real camaraderie formed in our cohort.
So when the Republic of South Sudan seceded from the Republic of Sudan, our thoughts were with these two states… but mostly with two of our participants—one from either side of the world’s newest political border.
This Saturday, 17 March*, I will join two staff members from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) on a trip to Sudan and South Sudan. Besides this exciting opportunity for CISR, I have to provide some disclosure: The PM/WRA staffers and I are good friends and alumni of JMU.
Emma (Smith) Atkinson is program manager for weapons-destruction programs in Sudan, South Sudan and several other African countries. Previously, she served as the Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow for Humanitarian Demining at PM/WRA and as a CISR Editorial Assistant, where she helped us facilitate a planning conference in Bogota, Colombia.
Katie Smith is the current HD Fellow at PM/WRA, having spent the past nine months assisting Emma with weapons-destruction programs in Sudan, South Sudan and elsewhere in Africa. She taught English for a year following graduation in American Samoa.
CISR staffers have many preparations leading up to travel, yet the best one for me is contacting our colleagues and friends to plan reunions. In the coming days, I hope to share more about our preparations for this exciting trip. While we’re on-the-ground, I will do my best to post to the CISR blog… keep an eye out for updates.
*Note: I should also mention that, as I write this Wednesday, 14 March, we still have not received our passports/visas for travel. All my immunization shots may have just made me the healthiest person who couldn’t leave the country.
Geary Cox II (’06, ’08M, ’15P) is project manager and program coordinator at CISR. He joined the staff as an Editorial Assistant to the Journal of ERW and Mine Action in March 2005. He holds a Master of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, both from James Madison University. He is pursuing his doctorate in nonprofit leadership at JMU’s School of Strategic Leadership