Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lets go to school in Kurdistan

To the world's most loyal blog reader,
First of all before you do your glayee (which is basically you complaining why I haven't blogged for a while) let me explain. I have been busy with courses, modules, essays etc... and also I sometimes write in Tasbeeh & Chay.
Recently I received an email from someone who said she was returning to Kurdistan and she was worried, mostly about schools. So, this blog is not only for my blog reader who asked me to tell her a little about what to expect when she returns, but also any of you who are planning to make a return back HOME. And yes it is home.
With any return back to Kurdistan the number one concern of families is "manalakan… ay maktabakayan chon?" (children, how about their schooling?) does that sentence sound familiar? Funny enough in every house hold when the subject of returning to Kurdistan opens this becomes the number one concern of so many parents, and for that matter the kids too.
I don't want to make it seem like a nightmare, but unfortunately for pubic schools the conclusion one can make is that schools are not always fun, there is a lot of pressure on students and most of the learning is off the text book. The only method of testing are examinations and too often to succeed one starts paying for a private tutor. However, there is a bright side.
Today in Kurdistan there are many English schools, though the system is different to a degree, in fact it can be entirely different. However, it is not impossible to manage and many go through successfully. Now it is much better than six years ago when I first returned. There are different options when it comes to schools- some are elegant, expensive and are described to be military-like. This is probably the schools where all the children of businessmen and leaders. Nevertheless, there are others which are quiet decent but you just have to learn a few other languages along the way. This means you need to take a Kurdish and an Arabic class (and Turkish sometimes), though the subjects are all tMany of my friends have gone through these types of schools in Kurdistan, I must admit they have great jobs at the moment and they can speak and write three or four languages fluently- including English.
Schools should no longer be an issue when a family moves back to Kurdistan, at least not as a great issue as it was few years back. The interesting part is that there are also universities at the moment. There is a long list of English-teaching universities in Kurdistan, though the best of the list remain to be the American University in Sulaimaniya (Slemani) known as the AUIS and The University of Kurdistan- Hawler, which I believe is the best in all of Iraq. Here, education is entirely in English, exams, essays, assignments you name it. Nearly all the lecturers are either international or have completed their degrees abroad.  
So…. Next time you think school and university is a reason why you don't want to return to Kurdistan, think again. There are options… the experience of schooling and education back home has its own beauty.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

You haven't met Ashna?! NO WAY!!


To the greatest, dearest, most special blog reader in the world,

Why? (of course, other than the fact that of all the things in the world you can do right now you've chosen to be on mandalawi.blogspot) because you are about to meet a very special Kurdish girl. I won't write any introduction, but here we go.... let's meet Ashna Shareff. NOW!

"A little about me, I am Ashna Shareff, 22 years old. I have studied politics and international relations which I love more than any other subject. Originally, I am from Hawler, and I live there as well. I currently work in the ministry of municipalities and tourism, as a personal interpreter of the minister.  Number one thing that I love most in my life is writing; I almost spend more of my time writing than doing anything else. I can describe myself as an adventurer, and one thing that makes me feel good always is doing charity with friends.

To me, my favorite place in Kurdistan is wherever the mountains are. I love Kurdistan’s mountains.  Climbing mountains seem to me as the road of life, I struggle until I get to the top, but once I stand on the top, I truly feel freedom and the beauty right in front of my eyes. 

However, my favorite place in Erbil, Shorsh Street. The street itself is full of beautiful memories for me.  I have been living in Erbil almost all my life, but Shorsh Street has always been my destination in whatever I have done in the city. I love walking there at nights.

My favorite month in the year is February. I was born in winter, and it’s always been my favorite season of the year. February is the mid of winter in Kurdistan.

 My favorite day in the week is definitely Thursday.  Mostly because every Thursday I do a different thing, I go to different places, basically different small journeys.  I usually finish from work early in that day, often times, I visit friends or I just take a walk on my own to somewhere. I do enjoy walking alone, especially in the cold weather. It gives me time to think about my life and about myself.

It’s really difficult for me to decide my role model, as I look up to so many people in my life. If I had to choose, then I choose my grandfather. Although he has passed away years ago, yet we still communicate through my dreams. He often comes to visit me there, and we chat about things (I know you think am crazy Sazan) he was a very simple man with a heart as big as the ocean; I have never met a man as good as him. And he was my guard when I was little (I miss Him).

 Oh now it’s absolutely hard to choose a day in my life!  But I will choose the day when I got my final grades in high school, Sixth grade.  I remember a night before that day, I had a dream. In my dream the principle of my school, she came and she grabbed my hand. She told me “I am going to take you somewhere very special”. I began to walk with her until we reached somewhere very high; we were standing on the top of a building. She told me look below and when I did, the place seemed like a heaven. It was surrounded by buildings, and the place was shining with the lights on. She told me this is university of Kurdistan-Hawler, and she took me to a class. Some guys and girls were inside; the principle told me these people are going to be my friends.

I woke up that day, and my heart was filled with comfort and happiness. I was sure that I will score a very good grade and I will make it eventually to UKH. Since UKH was a dream that I worked so hard to get into it. I waited until the noon, and then I had a phone call from my sister; she told me I have scored 87. I was indeed so happy when I heard that, for me 75 was enough since UKH was accepting students scoring 75 and so.  I was home alone with mom and dad only. Dad wasn’t so happy; he wished that I had scored higher. But to me, it didn’t make any difference, I was still very happy.

Part of my struggle was paid off. Then sisters came home and after lunch everybody was talking about me, and all of the sudden the vice principle, called from the school and she told the oldest sister that the real score of mine is 93 instead and that they have made some mistakes with giving her  a wrong number earlier that day. OMG, everyone was jumping form happiness, no one believed that I scored 93. At the beginning of my studies in the 6th grade in my high school that year, I faced problems of not passing in the midterm exams, because I was too worried and stressed about getting high scores all the time.

In the afternoon, my house was filled with relatives, everyone bringing sweets and congratulating me and my dad for my success.  I was more than just happy.  Relatives kept coming to my home and I kept smiling all day.  The dream I had the night before I get my score came true at the end. I got a good grade and eventually I did make it to UKH, the place where all my dreams were. And now I am a graduate of university of Kurdistan-Hawler. J

The best thing I like in my life is the fact that I always count on myself. It has been the case with me since childhood. I learnt to be independent and always look after myself instead of bothering others to do so for me. Though sometimes it gets really hard.  

There is not something particular really that I don’t like about my life, but I guess what bothers me most of the time, is the fact that I know there are so many disadvantaged  girls out there in Kurdistan, who are deprived form most basic needs of life. I do wish from bottom of my heart I was able to help them in whatever I can.

I would definitely describe Kurdistan as “the land of the freedom fighters”

My typical weekend, would be first sleeping tight in the morning, then waking up and having breakfast with family ( though I rarely have breakfast) after breakfast, watching Cartoon for a couple of hours with niece and nephews, and then going to Citadel with friends. Taking some shots there, doing some shopping, and then at them in a café-shop and just have a nice warm chat with them, I would love it more if we were to meet to discuss a book we have all read, like a small book club meeting, and then going back home and spending the night watching a movie with sisters. Nothing would seem better than this to me in a typical weekend.

I can’t decide one thing in Kurdish culture, so I am going to choose two.  Tazbi7 and Jamadani. I love them both and I always carry them both in my bag. To me they represent the reality about Kurdistan.

If I had to change one thing about Kurdish culture, it will be certainly marriage tradition. By saying this I mean when someone finds a husband or a wife for someone else. It really bothers me, especially, when mothers find wives to their sons. I believe marriage should be about finding one another by chance, not by plans.

I do have a blog, the address is the following;

The website is where I feel the real Ashna is. I write what I feel and what I see and nothing makes me happier than when someone tells me how much they have enjoyed reading my writings.  I normally write poetry and articles about Kurdistan, about people who have touched my life and sometimes about issues that I find important to be spoken.

 My first wish for Kurdistan is like so many Kurdish people for their land, I wish one day Kurdistan will be recognized as a country. I wish I will see Kurdistan flourishing day after day like a flower strong with its thrones so that the enemies of Kurdistan will never be able to touch it again.

If I had a wish to come true for my career, then I wish work as a professional writer. I wish I will be able to publish poetry. I wish I will write a book someday.

As for wishes for myself, I wish I will do my Master in politics and international relations this year, and be one of the top students, a dream that I couldn’t make true when I was in my undergraduate.
 I do wish I will visit America and go to Harvard University someday. I wish I will have my own institution for charity in the future."

Blogger note: What ever I write won't be enough, so I will just express myself in one sentence: Ashna, with no doubt, is one of the most important in my life.