This May, Michelle Risinger presented an AU flag to COB Speicher, a United States Army base located just outside of Baghdad. The flag hangs in the unit’s dining facilities along with university flags and insignia from servicemen and women’s alma maters.
Risinger, BA history and international development ’07, has served as assistant station manager at the Red Cross’s Baghdad station since last July. It is a job she calls “simultaneously exhausting and rewarding. You really get to see the difference that your work and your presence make to someone in a capacity that very few people ever get to experience.”
After graduation, Risinger worked as a historian for the Red Cross—bringing speakers, writing articles, and initiating a tour program for the historic headquarters building. But as much as she enjoyed her job, she felt the pull to be out there on the front lines. “The original reason I wanted to work for the Red Cross was because of its work as an international humanitarian organization,” say Risinger, who wrote her senior thesis on WWI Red Cross Girls. “I realized that I needed to be out there.”
Risinger shares her experiences via her online blog. Climb in Back approaches personal experiences through twin lenses of reflection and historical insight. “The blog is my attempt at making some analytical sense of life in Iraq,” she explains. “It’s my way of trying to both show people what life is like here while at the same time offering some reconciliation of why things happen over here.”