“I con­sider Kur­dis­tan my home­land”

Dr. Mahsa Mosh­feghyan: be­tween Iran, In­dia and Bri­tain, set­tled in Kur­dis­tan

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - By H. G. H

Kurds are fa­mous for their hos­pi­tal­ity. If the guests have come from a dif­fer­ent place or a very far­away coun­try, they are even more warmly wel­comed with love and re­spect. In re­cent years, hun­dreds of thou­sands of tourists have come to South­ern Kur­dis­tan. Be­side the tem­po­rary vis­i­tors, tens of thou­sands of for­eign­ers per­ma­nently live here. They mostly work in the fields of hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­tiv­i­ties, busi­ness, ed­u­ca­tion and econ­omy.

In the city of Er­bil (Hawler), in one of the class­rooms in the Lan­guage Cen­ter of the Sala­hadin Univer­sity, a doc­tor wel­comed me with a broad smile and ra­di­ant face. When I said I wanted to write about her life story, as an Ira­nian stu­dent stud­ied in In­dia, then get­ting her Ph.D in Bri­tain and now teach­ing English in Kur­dis­tan, she agreed in­stantly with­out any hes­i­ta­tion.

Dr. Mahsa Behroz Mosh­feghyan said: " I was born and lived in Na­gada with a Kur­dish mother and a Per­sian fa­ther. Then I went to In­dia and fin­ished school there". She con­tin­ued, " I chose In­dia be­cause it has a rich cul­ture, for ex­am­ple 120 stu­dents from a va­ri­ety of coun­tries were study­ing at one univer­sity. I was also in­ter­ested in study­ing the English Lan­guage. I gained my MA in ped­a­gogy, and fin­ished my higher ed­u­ca­tion in Bri­tain gain­ing my PhD. In ad­di­tion, I have stud­ied psy­chol­ogy, ped­a­gogy and how to teach the English lan­guage.”

She has par­tic­i­pated in 14 lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ences, she says.

She is flex­i­ble and open­minded dur­ing her lec­tures. Dr. Mahsa is quite friendly with stu­dents, too ea­ger to dis­cuss the cul­ture and life­style of dif­fer­ent na­tions; she, many times, talks about the suf­fer­ing of women.

When we talked about Kur­dis­tan and the rapid growth of this tran­quil re­gion, she op­ti­misti­cally and hon­estly said: “my mother is Kur­dish and she’s from Na­gada. If the mat­ter is the de­vel­op­ment of Kur­dis­tan, I want to be a part of it. I teach 12 hours with­out any pay­ment, and I help Syr­ian refugees as well.” She said that she has pub­lished three books. Re­gard­ing the re­vival of Kur­dis­tan she re­sumed: “there’s con­sid­er­able growth, a bright fu­ture is pre­dicted for Kur­dis­tan, this makes me happy, and I don’t feel I’m ex­cluded from this process.”

Kur­dis­tan hasn't en­tirely over­come some neg­a­tive cul­tural phe­nom­ena and old-fash­ioned so­cial prob­lems. This some­times pro­vokes crit­i­cism from the Kur­dish cit­i­zens and for­eign­ers as well. Dr. Masiha Mosh­f­e­gyon com­plained about the is­sue of women and said: “Kur­dis­tan needs cul­tural changes, es­pe­cially with re­gard to women, the sit­u­a­tion is not good, women are still looked down on , chil­dren has to be taken a bet­ter care of, and a com- plete par­a­digm shift has to take place. Fa­thers did not al­low their daugh­ters to work in the past, but this new gen­er­a­tion is ready to do the op­po­site. The next gen­er­a­tion will take even more dras­tic steps in this re­gard. The mat­ter is, of course, of great con­cern to ev­ery­one.”

Re­gard­ing some level of dis­re­spect which few people have shown, Masiha said with a wry smile : “there’s some neg­a­tive at­ti­tudes among some in­di­vid­u­als here, when they dis­cover that you’re a for­eigner, they may in­tend to ex­ploit you. Some pre­tend to re­spect you, but they ac­tu­ally bother you in­stead. This is not ac­cept­able that some people be­have in such a way es­pe­cially in the Kur­dish so­ci­ety which is per­me­ated by friend­li­ness and hon­esty, it’s just not pos­si­ble.” This doc­tor, who has lived in three cul­tures and is now liv­ing in the fourth, is now teach­ing English cour­ses in the Lan­guage Cen­tre al­most ev­ery day. She con­tin­ued: “but in the class and work, the mat­ter is com­pletely dif­fer­ent; ev­ery­thing pro­ceeds in an or­derly man­ner with due re­spect to all, which is de­light­ful. The hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions are greater here, be­cause both the con­duct and work are taken se­ri­ously.” This coun­ter­bal­ances her pre­vi­ous crit­i­cism, which for sure pre­sents a brighter pic­ture of the Kur­dish com­mu­nity.

She has an op­ti­mistic view con­cern­ing ed­u­ca­tion and learn­ing process here. She thinks that ed­u­ca­tion is of high stan­dard. More­over, ef­forts are be­ing made to im­prove it fur­ther. “But I feel that some stu­dents are re­luc­tant to work and learn, or some­times are not se­ri­ous. I want to help them to make more tan­gi­ble progress," added Mahsa .

Hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced var­i­ous cul­tures, she says that she con­sid­ers her­self as part of the cul­ture and cir­cum­stances in Kur­dis­tan. “I’ve trav­elled to im­prove my sci­en­tific abil­i­ties. I try hard to help women un­der­stand ped­a­gogy bet­ter in or­der to en­able them to uti­lize their ca­pac­i­ties more ef­fi­ciently. I feel that I’m in my home­land, that’s why I al­ways try to be friendly with stu­dents and people around. Here is a nice place, the spirit of friend­ship and the sense of com­mu­nity are quite ev­i­dent here.”

The world is head­ing to­wards glob­al­iza­tion. Kur­dis­tan is part of the process. The changes are rapid. The Kur­dish people pre­vi­ously were not al­lowed to travel and ex­pe­ri­ence other cul­tures. Now, not only can we en­joy and visit other coun­tries, but we re­ceive thou­sands of people from dif­fer­ent cul­tures, lan­guages, col­ors and reli­gions here in our land. Kur­dis­tan in gen­eral and Hawler (Er­bil) in par­tic­u­lar has be­come an at­trac­tive des­ti­na­tion for for­eign guests. Doc­tor Mahsa is a good ex­am­ple of people com­ing to Kur­dis­tan, not only to visit, but to live and work here.

Be­fore the farewell, she asked for a bot­tle of wa­ter and in­sisted on pay­ing for it her­self. She said: “Red is a spe­cial color to me.” She added that she wanted her fi­nal words to be: “ed­u­ca­tion and learn­ing should be taken a bet­ter care of.”

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