Why Reno? An Interpreter’s Story

NNIC is embarking on a series we call “Why Reno” over the next several weeks and months. In this series, you will learn about the different perspectives from people who have answered that question from a very personal perspective—through a quick trip to Reno on an international visitor program, or studying and working at NNIC, or living here permanently and hosting visitors through the International Center. With this series, we hope to evoke and share our sense of what we mean by the “Why Reno Question.”

In this first story, Abdelhafid Missouri, an interpreter and English Language Officer working for the US Department of State, shared his view of visiting the Biggest Little City this past year:

In March of 2012, a group of Iraqi judges and prosecutors visited Reno on a trip organized by the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The visitors traveled to Washington, DC, San Antonio and Reno on a three-week tour to study the investigation and prosecution of major crimes. In the three cities, the Iraqis were introduced to American law enforcement practices and legal procedures, they examined how to organize police forces, train personnel and implement disciplinary action, etc.

“The visitors were tempted by Reno lights and Casinos. However, none ventured inside. But they did eventually a day later, only to testify before their counterparts in meetings that casinos are not what they thought them to be, that they are clean and decent, that security is everywhere to make sure people are not bothered and disturbed, that casinos are also a place where people sit, have a cup of coffee, or just socialize. The group also visited the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline Executive Director David Sarnowski as well as the Nevada State Advisory Council for Prosecuting Attorneys Director Brett Kandt. In addition, the visitors had a memorable time at the Washoe County Detention Center with Heidi Pickard and Janet Hippert, whose company during the tour proved to be both very informative and fun. The Fusion Center/ Northern Nevada Counter Terrorism Task Force with Mike McKinley was a great occasion to educate the visitors on coordination of activities between the various players and agencies to fight major crimes. The meeting with Forensic Science Division Renee Romero was certainly a highlight. The visitors were introduced to forensics in the US and the great dependence on DNA in the fight against crime. The judges also enjoyed the professional meetings with the Nevada Supreme Court Justice Cherry.

I can say without reservation that the visitors loved Reno hosts. They very much enjoyed the meeting at the National Judicial College staff to the point that we only managed to get everyone out for the next meeting about thirty minutes later. The NJC were so friendly, engaging, and ready to answer questions and engage on a personal level with each visitor. The visitors loved it, and felt closer to America than ever. They loved the Lake Tahoe journey. The weather was unlike anything they experienced before. The snow, the cold, the agitated lake provided them with opportunities to stop the driver many times and to ask pictures be taken of them. Very interesting to them was the idea that half the lake is under California jurisdiction and the other half under Nevada’s.

But amazing to the visitors amid all of this was the warmth and generosity of Carina Black and her family in Reno, Nevada. Home hospitality once again proves to be the essence of exchanges that mean to put the people of the world together to face a common destiny, that we are all the same and share the same worries and concerns and must work together to live together.”