From the Kurdish Mountains to the City of Spires.
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Ended Nov 30, 2014
My name is Rezhiar. I am a Kurd from North Iraq. I can tell you a lot about myself. How my parents were political refugees who escaped to Iran for a time. How I was born in in Iran and how still, as an adult, when I think of the UN I think of ... More ...

My name is Rezhiar. I am a Kurd from North Iraq. I can tell you a lot about myself. How my parents were political refugees who escaped to Iran for a time. How I was born in in Iran and how still, as an adult, when I think of the UN I think of the biscuits they used to distribute to us in the villages. How when only seven years old, I had to say goodbye to my parents for many years as they went into hiding. How one of the first English words I came to understand so well was “genocide”. All these are experiences that have shaped me. To the outsider there may be a tendency to think, “poor you” but I do not feel at all like “poor me”. If anything, my experiences have given me a deep sense of curiosity, a need to ask the “why” questions.

 

Two years ago exactly I spoke no English. I started working for an English NGO and I began to learn. Today, all the things I used to wonder about when thinking in Kurdish, my mind asks those very same questions in English. I started a blog, which I write in English. I make observations about the life around me but I also have many unanswered questions. In Kurdistan, history in my lifetime has me ponder the notion of man’s inhumanity to man. I have no answer but believe I could find an answer if only I knew more, understood more.

 

So it came about that not so long ago while preparing for an English exam, I realised I had questions about philosophy and politics and the way societies organise themselves. I figured this might help me write about and observe better the society to which I belong. I decided that I would, one day, study PPE in Oxford. That “one day” is not too far away. I plan to start in September 2016. Oxford does not know yet that I am planning to join them so soon. In the meantime, I want to read and study. I have had an education that has given me much but realise that for Oxford I need to read more in order to think more so I can get the most out of my time there.

 

So many of you will be asking what makes a young man from the Kurdish mountains want to go to Oxford. I mean, that is aiming pretty high, I hear you all say. I did two years at University in Kurdistan but quickly realised I was being schooled and not educated. Schooling means knowing plenty of things off by heart but never knowing how to ask the right question. Schooling means holding on to the past no matter what because you are too afraid to face a changing future. Schooling means accepting the inevitable without even realizing that things can be different if only you knew how to ask yourself what is needed for change.

 

I have a dream to help change the society I live in.  Kurdistan is a land at war. It is a land full of weapons but they do not bring about good changes.  I need the right weapon to help make changes even if they are small. The best weapon I can have for change is a weapon called “education”.  I could use a gun and force change but a pistol makes Kurdish children too scared to think. So I know I must learn and then speak with thought. I need to speak with the goal of finding new ways to help people in Kurdistan have a peaceful life, to help the Kurds enjoy peace and learn how to value it. I want to help our people to not use the gun when things get tough but use their minds.

 

What is it that I am asking you to help me with? I want to take a few months off before starting at Oxford to study Plato, Aristotle, economic behaviour, the thinking behind politics and a whole lot more. I want to discover Pepys and Dickens because they had a lot to say about society. The English language is hard for me at times but each day that I study I get better at understanding more. I realise that language is not a barrier to understanding a great idea, a profound thought or appreciating the beauty of a sentiment. As my English has improved, I understand more at a deeper level. You can never stop learning.

 

The next time you read about Kurdish refugees in the newspaper and start to feel sorry for them, please think beyond pity. Refugees are not immune to dreaming. They have hopes. Remember that I was once a Kurdish refugee too but one who, after all the trials, dreams of going to the City of Spires. Please help me raise the money needed for my studies at Oxford and spend a little bit of time preparing for it before hand. Please be a part of my dream and help me along the way.

 

Rezhiar Fakhir

 

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