“I consider Kurdistan my homeland”
Dr. Mahsa Moshfeghyan: between Iran, India and Britain, settled in Kurdistan
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.”