Two years ago my brother moved from Scotland to Kurdistan, an autonomous region of Northern Iraq. There he teaches and oversees the English department in a primary school. In the Spring of 2018 I travelled there to see what attracted him to the region and discover the culture he has immersed himself in.
He moved to the town of Soran in 2016 to teach English in an International School and has now taken the management roll of Academic Quality Controller in which he oversees the teaching of English in the School.
Soran is located to the North East of Erbil in the beautiful Zagros mountain range and is a popular destination for visitors looking to escape the heat of nearby cities such as Mosul and Baghdad.
The school aims to raise the standard of education in Kurdistan and prepare the students for a role on the international stage. It has a diverse population of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrian Christians and other minorities living working and learning together and it is clear to see what a treat it is for the children to have a native english speaker in the school.
During the evenings and weekends Tom rides his 125cc motorbike around the mountain ranges and valleys surrounding Soran, within minutes of leaving the town he can be riding along a dirt track on a valley floor or cruising up a smooth hairpin road which leads to the top of a spectacular mountain. Tom and I have ridden motorcycles all over the world and both agree this is one of the best places to explore on two wheels.
Kurdistan is an Autonomous region, encompassing Southeastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, Northwestern Iran and Northern Syria. In September 2017 Iraqi Kurdistan held a vote for independence with the vision of becoming a permanent nation state and received 93.25 percent in favour of independence. In response to this overwhelming response Iraq, Turkey and Iran deemed the referendum unconstitutional, unacceptable and illegal.
With no sign of the vote being internationally recognised it is unlikely we will see an independant Kurdistan in the near future, however this has not diminished national pride and the Kurds still fly their flag with optimism wherever possible.
This project has been supported by the South of Scotland Visual Artist and Craft Maker Awards
funded by Creative Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Live Borders.