I started decorating my classroom today!

The best part of decorating was meeting the children trickling into the school. They need to purchase their uniforms before class begins next week, and so as I was creating this sea-scape, they were running around the primary school building. I met three little ones, Ara, Ana, and Nazi. Ara spoke a little English (about as much English as I speak Kurdish), and he taught me that massi means “fish,” and dem means “mouth.” We jumped around and made up some follow-the-leader games using sign language.

I’m starting to speak this Arabic-Kurdish hybrid. I know that, in Arabic, fi means “in” and weh means “and.” So I was pointing to pictures, and asking Ara, “fi Kurdi?” Kurdi is “Kurdish,” in Kurdish. He understood, because most children here are more or less bilingual. And I think that I asked a man if he spoke English using both Arabic and Kurdish. I said, “Azani Anglizi?” Azani is Kurdish for “you know,” and I think Anglizi is Arabic for “English.” But really, I’m not sure, and I got an answer from him anyway.

People here are really tickled when I speak to them in Kurdish. I’ve gotten the impression from a lot of the ex-pats that they aren’t interested in learning Kurdish because it’s not useful. I think there are many more ex-pats who speak Arabic than speak Kurdish.

But we’re in Kurdistan – if you want to speak Arabic, go live with Arabs. Seriously, people.

I met my friend’s husband today. She is a teacher here, and she and her husband brought their three kids to try on uniforms. We ended up chatting in English, Kurdish, and a tiny bit of Arabic and German. They lived in Germany for 10 years! I know about 5 words of German, but it was fun to see her daughter’s face light up as I asked her, “Sprechen sie Deutsch?” She doesn’t speak any English, and was very shy.

As we left, my friend’s husband gave me a little gift of some perfume samples (he works as a beauty product representative). I’m noticing that Kurds love giving little gifts to each other. Nothing big, just a little show of affection or thanks. Sarah bought me a little rhinestone bracelet for my birthday, for example. It seems like a continuation of this extreme Kurdish hospitality. When I mention I need something, without a doubt a Kurd nearby will say that they have one and will bring it to me. I needed contact solution, so Sarah brought some from her cousin’s eye clinic. I needed a SIM card, so another Kurdish teacher brought me an extra one he had at home. I mentioned that I liked the fabric flower in Donya’s hair, and she said that the next time she is at the bazaar, she’ll buy one for me.

And whenever I tell them’s it’s okay, I can go shopping myself, I always receive the reply, “Oh no, do not worry, it is no problem.”

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