April 11, 2018

Finding Opportunities in DC

By Hibah Abuhamdieh

What stood out to me during my first week in DC is the tremendous level of opportunities available, not only in this incredible city, but also within veterinary medicine. I am a proponent of taking opportunities as they come, and figuring out through these opportunities, ways in which they can be applied to what I hope to accomplish; that is, working in developing countries on the human-animal interface to enhance public health and animal welfare while raising awareness of this crucial role that veterinarians play.

While learning about the work that is done by the AVMA Government Relations Division and the current legislative issues that the Assistant Directors are focusing on, I also had the chance to attend events about topics outside of veterinary medicine in which I am interested. One of these was a panel discussion about Syria, hosted by the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. One of the speakers was Jason Hamacher, an American musician, who, through a series of unexpected events, ended up making an incredible impact on sharing Aleppo’s history. Between 2006 and 2010, he recorded chants from the Armenian Orthodox church of Forty Martyrs in Aleppo, which was later bombed during the Syrian crisis. It is all about opportunity. This artist with no ties to Syria, through spontaneous means, ended up in Aleppo, recording some of the oldest chants from the Orthodox Church and taking photographs of the country before its devastation.

I had the opportunity to attend a talk about a subject that is near and dear to my heart: Gaza, Palestine, where Dr. Brian Barber a professor and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies, spoke about his travels to Gaza over the past 23 years, an opportunity denied to most Palestinians, including myself. He is now a crucial figure for sharing the unheard story of the 1.8 million people of Gaza.

My blogpost is probably getting too long, but the last example that I need to share is getting the chance to listen to David Miliband speak at an event about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. David Miliband, former Foreign Secretary of the UK and member of Parliament, resigned from his government role to become the president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where he has benefited millions of people facing humanitarian crises around the world.

I have often wondered how I can tie together my passion for human rights and justice, with my passion for animals and veterinary medicine. I believe that through policy and advocating for subjects that matter, these matters can be tied together and we can work toward a better world. I believe that opportunities arise for a reason, and over these next couple of weeks in DC, I am excited to continue exploring the events and connections that come my way, and seeing where they will take me in the future.