Guest blog post by Sameh Attia, Senior International Program Specialist, Office of General Counsel, Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP)
My name is Sameh Attia. I am a Senior International Program Specialist with the Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) within the Office of General Counsel. I joined CLDP in 2012 after receiving an honorable military discharge in 2011. I am very honored and proud to represent veterans for the U.S. Department of Commerce and give a glimpse of my military life as we celebrate Veterans Day on November 11th.
I am originally from Egypt, and Arabic is my native language. I was raised in a neighborhood called Nazlet El-Semman in Giza, Cairo, which is adjacent to the pyramids of Giza. I grew up in a typical middle-class Egyptian family. My parents taught me the value of patience and kindness. They always encouraged me to work hard and make something of myself. Fun fact is that the distinctive feature of my neighborhood where I grow up was the abundance of horses’ stables, which were mainly providing horse and camel riding services to the tourists on the Pyramids’ Plateau. I’ve always liked horses, and I spent every chance I could get to be around them. They always calm me and set my life at ease.
In 2000, upon graduation from college, I immigrated to the United States. I began a new life journey by joining the U.S. Army in 2006. I decided to enlist because I felt obligated to help my country during the time of war, especially having Arabic language skills that were needed in Iraq at that time. I was the soldier of the cycle during the U.S. Army basic combat training, and I was assigned by drill sergeants to teach new soldiers about the Middle Eastern culture and Arabic language. Since then, I have served with the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade, Fort Huachuca, Arizona and the 51st Translator Interpreter Company, Fort Irwin, California. I was deployed twice to Iraq, where I was one of the primary interpreters/translators for the 25th Infantry Division, 5th Special Forces Group and 10th Special Forces in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. Working in the most dangerous areas in Baghdad and Diyala as a U.S. soldier gave me a great appreciation for teamwork and working under pressure, both certainly serve me well now in my civilian life.
Service to my country didn’t stop when my military service ended because I joined CLDP as a civil servant. I am a member of the Middle East team where I work together with attorney advisors on economic development programs in Egypt. Being Egyptian and understanding the culture enabled me and my team to develop the best possible working relationships with our Egyptian colleagues. Seeing the successes of CLDP work in Egypt and witnessing the positive impact on the country where I grew up is one of my greatest achievements that brings me authentic pride.
Military life helped shape me into the person I am today. It also gave me an understanding of why veterans are extremely special people due to the sacrifices they made on our behalf. That is why every year in November, the nation comes together to remember and honor the service and sacrifices of our veterans. Veterans Day is a time of reflection on my years of service as a combat linguist and one day to truly honor those who have served.
My advice for today’s youth interested in working for the Federal Government is to learn about other cultures, acknowledge different traditions and beliefs, and embrace diversity. The Federal Government consists of numerous cultural, racial and ethnic groups. In the new era of globalization, diversity is becoming increasingly present in every aspect of life. Celebrating diversity, rather than judging people who are different, is rewarding both personally and professionally. In my role at CLDP, I have seen that respecting everyone helps to improve the legal environment for business across the globe; and each day I get a chance to learn new things from people with different backgrounds and unique experiences.
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce Military Veterans in honor of Veterans Day.