Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lennon & McCartney...Butch & Sundance... Breaux & Segzdaviciute???

There are always two things that short-term election observers on an OSCE mission are most curious about - where will they be stationed once they arrive in-country, and who will their partner be.

The "where" is usually just a matter of logistics - how far they will have to travel from the capital to get there, what will the accomidations be like, and are there any cool sites to see when they get there.

But the "who" can really make a difference in the entire election experience,since our partner will be our nearly constant companion in a strnage environment, working long hours under enormous pressure. Your partner makes the difference between the election observation expericence being an adventure or a nightmare.

The OSCE always creates multinational teams - so the only thing I know going into this is that my partner won't be an American.

During the briefing process in Tbilisi, I discovered that I would be deployed to the region of Samtskhe-Javakheti, in the south-central part of the country along the mountainous boarder with Turkey, and that my partner was named Indre Segzdaviciute.

Indre Segzdaviciute

I'll pay $10 to anyone who can say that last name correctly on the first try, and another $10 who can tell me the entimology without resorting to an internet search...

I first met my partner when a lovely young woman on the bus for Akhaltsikhe asked "Does anyone know who Steve Breaux is?"

Indre works for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Lithuania ("Foreign Service at your service") and, like myself, has served on two previous OSCE election missions.

Unlike myself, she is attractive, charming, and multilingual - all of which are very useful when working as an election observer...

Over the course of five days traveling on the rough roads between polling stations around the town of Aspindza, she would prove to be exactly the kind of teammate that everyone on OSCE missions dreams about - a talented hard worker who also knows how to take advantage of the opportunity to make new friends and explore some amazing local sites.

The circumstances of all of our hard work and the amazing sites we saw will, of course, be the subject of upcoming posts!

More to follow...


No comments: