Nov 22, 2014

New Beginning...

Dear Blog reader,

If you happen to stop by sometimes and read my blog here, then I am happy to tell you that now I have a new personal blog. Unfortunately I won't be posting anything here anymore, so if you still want to read my writings and know more about my journey, then do visit me at http://ashnashareff.com/


Thank you,
Ashna 

Feb 14, 2014

My words and their meanings

I spent last night thinking about my favorite words in Kurdish, English, Arabic, and  Korean.

I have never really thought about my favorite words before, so it was a kind of  practice for me, but since writing is my passion, words are very important to me.

Words can be as devastating as destructive weapons and as sweet and warm as mother's embrace.

I love learning different languages.

When you speak a new language you become part of a new culture and you will be able to understand its history.


I speak three langues only, Kurdish that's my native language, Arabic because I am surrounded by Arab countries so it was important for me to learn the language, and English because I love it.

However, currently I am teaching myself Korean, and I have to say I JUST LOVE IT. Though, it's a little difficult to learn.


Words always sympathize something, they give meaning and value to a particular object. And the reason why we love some words over others is because they either remind us of something or someone remarkable in our lives.

And sometimes, we love the words just for their meanings.

To me, it's mostly because of the stories behind the words.

So I am happy to share some of my favorite words in Kurdish, English, Arabic, and Korean.

I will give each word its English meaning just in case you don't understand Kurdish, Arabic, or Korean (Not that I understand Korean well, but well may be one day, you know!)


My favorite words in Kurdish:-


Jargo: (liver) I never thought I would like this word someday, but the word reminds me of all the great people in my life and thanks to them, I love this word now. My friends and I call each other Jargo, so that makes us all Jargos.

Shirin: (Sweetness) The meaning says it all.

Daya: (mom) I'm positive that every Kurd loves the word.

Baran: (Rain) Because I love rain, because the word brings tranquility and joy to me even though rain is noisy, but noisy in a good way (like echoes of rain).

Galla: (leaf) Because each leaf recalls a story of its own.

Azadi: (freedom) Because I strive for.

Papula: (butterfly) Believe it or not I always see white butterflies around me no matter where I go, and I take that as a good sign from God.

Baba: (dad) The word is smooth, and because my dad is the only man who's been able to touch my heart wholly so far.

My favorite words in English:-


Peculiar: Because I am.

Moon: Because I talk to every chance I get, because it gives me hope and an ear to listen to my stories before I tell them to anyone.

Fly:  Because I am determined not to settle unless I find my sense of belonging in the world.

Hope: The word itself gives me hope

Faith: Because I live by it.

Beyond: I like the word for its pronunciation, but I also like it because I always tend to look beyond the ordinary and want people to see beyond what I appear to be.

Aurora: Simply beauty of the universe! I am hoping one day I will see it with my eyes.

My favorite words in Arabic:-


مغامرة :  (adventure) Because I love challenges and going on adventures.

الطبيعة: ( nature) Because I love everything in nature, nature reminds me of who I am.

حالم: (dreamer) Because I am.


And finally...


My favorite words in Korean:-



I am still a beginner, so am going to share few words among those that I've learnt so far.

 Chingu: (friend) Because I have so many great friends in my life, and they mean SO much to me.

Saranghaeyo: ( I love you) Because I love so many people and I love my dreams, they are very precious to me.

Nnuen: (I) The word is very simple, I like it, and I am a firm believer that if you're not able to use I confidently, then you won't be able to stand up for anyone including yourself or anything in life.

Bogo Sipda: (to miss someone) I like the pronunciation of the word. Note that the "S" is read as "Sh".



I can't wait to learn new words in Kurdish (because even though I am a Kurd, I still feel there are words that I need to learn, after all learning is joy!), Arabic, English, and Korean. I can't wait to share new words, new meaning and new stories behind the words.


What about you? What are your favorite words?


Feb 6, 2014

Celebrate your achievements

All my life, I have been a hard working student. I have always had passion for reading, especially for poetry and prose. I remember when two of my sisters were at school (both older), I would often take their books and read them, especially if it was a book of poetry or short stories. There was one poem that I liked most about a village girl written by Goran, one of the most famous Kurdish poets of all times. I can still recall parts of the poem.

I was sent to school when I was five, I was pretty young and I have had a really hard time at school.

Like many kids, first year of school was terrifying to me, the environment, experience, everything was so new and I just wanted to fit in.

I don't remember every detail about my first year, but I do remember one particular day very well.

That day, I walked slowly to class, it was one dreary autumn afternoon. I took my seat which was at the very end (I have always been taller than most of my classmates, so I had to sit in the back, which I very much hated).

My teacher who was a young harsh women walked into the class, for some reason she would NEVER smile, I don't know why. She walked in and straight slammed the door. I immediately started crying, screaming, and asking my teacher to open the door. At that moment, I was frightened, the weather outside was gloomy, and the class was somewhat dark, and I was just a kid, all that scared me.

Guess what she did?

She walked towards me, and slapped me hard on the face. Yes, can you believe that?!

In that instant, I cried even harder, and run out of the class to home, to never return to it. I remember I was crying on the road calling for my dad, my hideout.

After telling my parents of what happened, I decided to quit school. My parents tried to convince me of going back, but I was determined, I wouldn't go back.

So I didn't.  After one year I returned to school, fortunately my teacher was no longer there.

For quite sometime, I was bullied among my relatives for missing education for one year and being such a coward ( we all have been bullied for one thing or another, haven't we? I ironic, I know).

when I was a teenager, I really wanted to find my teacher and slap her right on the face, so she would understand how it feels to slap a frightened five years old girl.

But, years passed, and instead I made a commitment to study hard and get both my Bachelor and Master.

Determined I was, I got a good education at UKH, majored in politics and international relations. And straight after graduation, I applied for Masters in the same filed. Within a year, I finished my MA and three days ago, I submitted my dissertation.

When I look back, I see my childhood scars small, but I do appreciate having them, I really do. And I have to thank my relatives  and  my classmates,  those who bullied me during my childhood. Because of them, I've became the person I am today.

If life was as easy as the flowing river, I wouldn't have achieved all the things I have now and I wouldn't dream big. :)

Jan 14, 2014

Because every life matters

I was supposed to blog about this long ago, but I guess I was too lazy to share.


 I have decided (after submission of my thesis) to dedicate more time for writing and blogging.


 Stay tuned people...


I know I have been focusing on tragic stories a lot on this blog, but from now on I'll be sharing more exciting stuff. And I have a good feeling that exciting things are awaiting me this year!


Anyways, to start of let's together go through one of the most exciting journeys of my life. :)


About four months ago, I started a job (for three months period) at a humanitarian organization. My job was basically doing workshops for high schools girls in Hawler. Myself with a team of a sociologist, gynecologist, assistant, and an organizer undertook 10 workshops in 10 different high schools in Hawler. In each school we had 25 to 30 female participants and the total number of all participants was 302 girls.


The first day of the first workshop & in the first school
Discussions on sexual harassment 

In the Kurdish society, there are many issues that girls either face, or are not aware of. Among many of those issues are sexual harassment, and gender discrimination among some families. The fact is neither culture, nor families allow open discussions on such matters.


Group discussions on healthy communications with parents

That's why, I thought it would be important if we provided a special program where we could meet girls closely talk about such matters. That's when I decided to initiate this workshop. 




In one of the sessions about anger and depression. Asking the girls, "Have you ever loved someone whom you have lost contact with? If yes, please step forward."


Our aim was to inform the girls about some of their basic rights which they might not be aware of. We wanted to teach them how to become decision makers and work to build their future.We wanted to teach and help them how to control feelings of anger and depression and build healthy communication with parents through dialogue. Our aim was also to explain the importance of self-esteem for the girls and having goals in life. And finally, we wanted to give health awareness through a gynecologist who walked the journey with us all through the three months we spent with the girls. 


And so we did it! 


Session on Health and hygiene 


In the three months that I have spent with the girls, I literally learnt A LOT. I was not only inspired, but also taught everyday life lessons from the stories I have heard and the personal experience I have had with the girls. I made over 300 friends, and listened to more than hundred of dreadful and joyful stories. More importantly, I was able to be a small part of problem solving for the girls. 



Discussing the effects of gossip on society 

The experience was life changing for me. For the first time in my life, I loved my job and since I always leave jobs after few months of working ( mainly because I believe we shouldn't settle unless we find what we love) my family was quite surprised to see me so happy with the work I was doing. 


Chinese whispers

I was fascinated to find girls opening their hearts for me and building trust so quickly. I really wish all schools in Kurdistan would consider having such programs so the girls would talk about their problems and find solutions. 


I am more than sure that those girls have the ability to be change makers, only if they were pushed a little. Most of them "have it" in them, but what they need is motivation to bring out the positive energy. 


Role playing on family relationships 


 I am still in touch with some of them, they still send me messages, sometimes they tell me about their problems and sometimes they just text me to share a happy news with me. And that makes me super happy.





That's how we exchanged letters everyday with the students




Our dreams on the wall. 









Those girls have touched me deep inside, and I know somehow I have touched them too! :) 





Letters from the girls. Beautiful words from beautiful people! 






One of the girls, she dreams of becoming a writer someday. She was pretty good at poetry actually. :)







Because simple acts of kindness touch lives... 






Sharing love. Writing for each other.






In one of the sessions about self-esteem and having goals in life. One of the most exciting ones. 





There is a lot more that we can do for Kurdistan, and a lot more awaiting me to do as well.

A very special thanks for Brwska (sociologist) Sahand (gynecologist), Abdulahad (assistant), Rezheen (organizer), Hawer (volunteer) for walking the journey with me. 

*The project was sponsored by Rwanga charity organization.*

Jan 8, 2014

I choose to be like Lotus flower

We all have our shares of sorrow in this life.

We all have experienced bitter moments, and cried over things and people we have lost.

In the shadow of life, we have locked ourselves and decided to shut the world out. But, even if we spent centuries in the shadow of life, life won't come to hold our hands and guide us to the light, because life waits for no one.

Because life is on a mission and the mission requires it to be on  a continuous race with time. And the more we stay in the shadow, the more pain, regret, and disappointment we will bring to ourselves. 

As life races time, we grow old. And the more we grow, the more complicated life becomes. We all go through moments when we want to go back to childhood days, we yearn to laugh truthfully and conquer life with a child's pure heart. 

But, we can't go back and that's okay. 

Tell yourself today, I choose to be like Lotus flower. 

Just like how Lotus grows in gloomy ponds, I will grow in my difficult, troublesome days, because that's the only way for beauty to display itself.

Tell yourself,
Every morning, with the sunrise, like Lotus flower, I will open up to the world, put a smile on my face, pack my knowledge and modesty and shine up to the world around me. 

Tell yourself, 
Like Lotus flower, I will overlook all the ugly and unfair incidents that I come across everyday, and use them to nourish myself. I will see the good only.

Tell yourself, 
I am special because just like Lotus flower there is only one "me" out there in the world and I can touch the world around me by just being myself. 

Tell yourself,
I am going to be healthy, because Lotus represents health and long life. I want to live long, because I have been put on this world for a reason, to fulfill a task and I can't give up unless it's accomplished.

Tell yourself today,
I will live my life fully and choose to maintain purity and good intention no matter how hard the world pushes me to the circle of corruption, war, and hatred.

"Because Lotus is always clean and pure against the background of the dirty pond." 



Jan 2, 2014

World's one of the oldest heritage sites

Since I am home currently, basically doing nothing but writing my MA Thesis which hopefully I will be handing it on February 1st, I felt like coming to my blog and just writing a random post. 

 I usually like spending time watching sunset, and sometimes I just look at the stars and talk to the moon when I feel like taking a break (especially when I am supposed to study). But, this time I decided to blog instead and share with you  an aspect of our beautiful Kurdish culture. 

I am talking about Arbil Citadel. One of the world's oldest heritage sites, located in Kurdistan. 

I am not sure about the origins of the Citadel, but well according to my parents it goes back to some 6000 years ago. Of course the citadel has undergone developments to get to its current shape, and I believe at the moment there are renovations taking place inside the Citadel. If you haven't been to Arbil citadel yet, then you must visit it someday, you will love it, I promise. 

Anyhow, I have taken the below photos long ago, not too long though. I think it was summer 2011.

I believe the photos will speak for themselves so I am not going to say much.

Just enjoy. :)

The museum inside the Citadel
inside the Museum

Kurdish traditional clothes

Yup, that's me over there. 
Qala Antiques
On the wall inside the Museum.
In this shop, you will find every piece of Kurdish antiques. 
I actually don't know what this is for. 


Kurdish traditional hats for men
Textile machine 
Traditional lamps
Pieces of art hanged on the walls of the Museum 
Antique music box
Mashka

Kurdish Jewelries 


Traditional vases 


Kurdish Samawar

Outside the Museum


Finally and truly,

"A nation's culture resides in the hearts and the in the soul of its people."  Gandhi 

Sep 28, 2013

Life after prison

If you are to look back in your life and say "I wish I didn't do that, what would that be?"

Two days ago, a friend of mine and I went to the prison to interview the prisoners for research purposes.

The life inside the prison as we know it, is uncomfortable, perhaps unbearable, and of course like any other prisons elsewhere, extremely restricted. But, here is a good news, it doesn't always give that impression for everyone, at least not for all female prisoners in Kurdistan.

I will not go about telling the story of the women inside the prison, at least not for now since I know soon (in few coming months hopefully) you will find out all about it in the research my friend is conducting with just a small help from me.

But there is one thing that's stuck on my mind and which I had the urge to say it here. Believe it or not for some of the female prisoners, prison is their second home if not the first.

When I was a freshman, I went to the prison to get some information for my presentation which I chose to be a short one about the life of some of the prisoners.

This time, we met only one prisoner, we spent an hour listening to her as she was recalling her story. With tearful eyes, she told us the reason why, when and how she was brought to the prison. She was just a year older than me, but you couldn't tell for she seemed to be a woman in her late 30s!

She had three kids whom she has lost contact with the day she entered the prison.

We asked her about her life in the prison, with a truthful smile she told us how happy she was to be in the prison and how many friends she had made there so far.

A woman with no family, a mother whom her children already believe that she is dead, what does the future or the life outside the prison hold for her really?

 I am not trying to portray the image of an innocent woman here, because I know she is to be blamed for her crime; but, aren't we also as individuals who make up the society responsible for their crimes? How does the society look at the wrongdoers, especially at the females? How does it portray them? Does the society even allow a small space for those women to adapt again into the normal environment?

For them, life after prison is way more difficult than the life in the prison. They go out to face life all alone with no money, job, or even a family around for some of them.

For someone who have been abandoned by her family and unable to adjust in a society where everyone looks at her with their doubtful and despised eyes, where else does she has to go to other than the streets? And who knows may be she will end up doing worse than what she has already done in the past, and soon end up in the prison, only this time for a lifetime.

I am not asking much, I am just asking the society to be a bit  more understanding. We really never know what these women had to put up with all their lives.
But, I know one thing and I am sure of, every single prisoner has a reason for what they have done. That behind every story  there is someone or something, especially for those who have committed minor crimes. You only need to hear it from them to truly believe that they are not to be fully blamed for their crimes.

And I also believe that sometimes destruction could be a way to rebuild something else, perhaps something better.  Because just like a deserted city, which once was full of vibration and life, those women were also vibrant and full of life at a point of their lives and all they need is a little help from you and me to rebuild what has been destroyed.