Hello Dreamers, I think there is always things that happen in your life and you’re just like “I wish someone told me this”. Well thats why I’m here, I know theres still a lot of Kurds and non-Kurds alike who really want to see Kurdistan for the first time, but have no idea what to expect. This is why I’m here… hello… hi.. My name is Alê and Im here to tell you 4 things someone should have told me before visiting Kurdistan.
These 4 things are from my own personal experience of traveling there four times already with family, which I stayed for a span of 2-3 months. I feel like I have a lot of experience on this subject, which is why I want to help others out there who really want to see the world and the beauty of our homeland.
Different Societal Rules
This can be a positive and a negative thing when you really think about it. I wanted to include this in the beginning because it is something that I definitely struggled with when I visited in 2012 with my father. As a teenager I was asked to pack “appropriate clothing” and nothing “too westernized” because I would be meeting a long list of family members that I haven’t seen in years or have not met at all. Though I was still not prepared for what I witnessed when going. Certain things that I’ve learned because I was told that is not right after doing it is what I want to talk about. Playing soccer on the streets with your cousins (couldn’t do it), sitting outside your uncles house for too long (couldn’t do it), going to the mall with a group of your friends (absolutely not), and going to the parks with a group of your friends (absolutely not). These are just a few examples (in the city of Duhok) that I’ve personally witnessed, however the positive thing that is attached to this is it has definitely changed over the years. As Kurdistan continues to become progressive and more modernized it slowly continues to accept certain activities. For instance, in 2014 I went to the mall with my cousins by ourselves, I went to the arcade with my cousins and went bowling, and went to Azadi park and dream city. This is something that everyone needs to understand and help change the stigma around females going out by themselves or with a group of their friends. Societal rules are constantly changing and restructuring for the citizens of the country or city, however just by being aware is what will definitely help you in the long run.
Best time to learn
BEST TIME TO LEARN, I think this is the best thing to do when visiting such a historical, and cultural area. Though your trip may be for vacation, but the easiest thing to do is be open minded and hear stories about Kurdistan and the different cities while experiencing them yourself. The best thing to do is ask and I bet there will be a historical story with it, if its about the era of Saddam Hussien or even years before that. When I went in 2012 as a young teenager I learned so much just from my family members that I didn’t know before. that I’m a very strong believer that just simply asking questions you can learn so much that you did not even think you would have learned. Driving with my dad from Duhok city to the village of Babirê I would just sit there without any music playing and listen to his stories. Stories about which mountains he fought on as a peshmerga and which cities he was in as a child and what he did. You learn so much just by simply listening and being present in the moment, which is something I learned over the course of my visits.
3. be adventurous
This goes hand-in-hand with being the best time to learn. I have always had trouble with this because I am just normally a lazy and tired person that could sleep all day. There were times in Kurdistan that I would get forced by my father who would call me and tell me to get dressed not telling me where we are going just so I could leave the house. It definitely gets hard especially going during the summer and it being extremely hot outside, but you are not going to see and experience the full beauty of Kurdistan from your home. My dad definitely forced me to step outside and experience Kurdistan the right way because he has always been the adventurous type. My parents and I would often just leave the city of Duhok and drive to the villages and stop wherever we wanted and experience each area for what it was. I remember, my parents and I went to various villages and then we ended up on the edge of the south and north of Kurdistan where there was a village that we sat by the water and had our dinner. It was very spontaneous, but those are when the best adventurous happen, and for me the most memorable moments.
4. Life changing
I wish someone would have told me how life changing it was going to be for me. In 2012 when I was going to go with my father I was not a 100% sure I wanted to. I was forced by my dad because he really wanted me to see Kurdistan just like my brother did when my father took him the year prior. I was sceptical about it and did not want to spend my entire summer in Kurdistan, however when I got there I automatically fell in love with it. The experience is definitely life changing for me and I hope for all of you because I found who I was when going on that trip, this is where my love for Kurdistan grew to what it is today. Just by experiencing the culture, family, language, history, and various cities it made me think about my life in Canada and how grateful I am. I hope before you go you are aware of the life changing experience you will have and that you are accepting and opening of what might change for you.
If you have any other things that you wish someone told YOU before you left for Kurdistan comment them down below!!