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Iraqi Immigrant Studying Fort Worth For Local Civics Lesson

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
Joel is an Emmy Award winning journalist with more than 15 year...
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Its the simplest of civics lessons for Americans. Have a gripe about potholes? Go to city hall.  Need to pay a water bill? Go to city hall.

But for the entire nation of Iraq, all of this is a new concept. So, they sent one man here to figure it all out.  “In Iraq we’ve had a central government for centuries,” said Satie Najm. “And back in 2005 they just started having what we call local government, mayors and governors. So the whole concept is new for Iraqis.”

Satie Najm immigrated from Iraq to the Dallas/Fort Worth area three years ago.  Now, he’s working for an international aid agency, The United States Agency for International Development, to make a documentary about how local government works by profiling Fort Worth City Hall.  It will be shown to a gathering of local Iraqi leaders in September.

Americans might find someone working in a city office mundane. But to Najm, “Its really exciting,” he said. “We’re walking in we show people in their offices and what they do.”

Those offices included Mayor Betsy Price, who spent time with Najm to help with the documentary, and Jason Lamers, who is in the city’s Communications Office.  “They were fascinated with the different divisions of government like water works and streets,” Lamers said. “Even something as simple as having three minutes for citizens to speak at a city council meeting is news to them.”

And as Najm learns about local government, he offers a reminder for the people he’s studying.  “You think about all the turmoil they had and everything we take for granted here, we’re very blessed to live in America.  We as Iraqis are grateful for all the help that the U.S. gave to Iraq and especially for what they did.”

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