Religion Magazine

Enlarging Our Hearts in Ranya ڕانیه

By Marilyngardner5 @marilyngard

It's difficult to believe that we have only been in Kurdistan for 48 hours.

Our flight from Qatar was uneventful. We connected with another new faculty member just before boarding the plane. The fact that she spotted us so easily was a reminder that we are westerners and everything from the way we talk to the way we walk identifies us as such.

We flew into Sulaymaniyah, also called Slemani, a large city two hours from Ranya. The way the plane entered the air landing strip allowed us to see the entire area before landing.

The airport in Sulaymaniyah is small and customs and immigration was easy. We had our pictures and finger prints taken and temporary visas stamped into our passports in record time, then on to retrieve our eight large pieces of luggage on the other side.

A faculty member from the university was there to greet us and load our luggage into a truck and we took off on the two-hour journey to our new home.

Ranya is a town of 230,000, established in 1789. It is surrounded by a mountain range called the Kewa Rash (Black Mountains) and, for lack of a better word or because my thesaurus is not loading properly, nestled by a beautiful lake called Lake Dukan. Driving up a hill, you know you have arrived in Ranya when you see a large concrete statue of the number five. The statue commemorates March 5, 1991 when Ranya boldly rose up against the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. Though the most notable recent uprising, it is not the only time in Ranya's history where they defied the ruling authorities. Indeed, this is part of Ranya's story since the early 1900s. Because of this history, many Kurds refer to the city as Darwaza-I Raparin - gateway to uprising. It feels particularly important for me as a newcomer and stranger to acknowledge both the history and wounds of this place where we will work and make a home.

The University of Raparin (literally the University of Uprising) is at the edge of the city and we saw the buildings immediately after passing the commemorative statue. Going past the university, we arrived at the apartment complex where we will be living. Our apartment building is one of six buildings built specifically for faculty at the university. We arrived and were graciously welcomed by university staff. They also graciously carried our heavy luggage into the apartment, no small feat!

We walked up three flights of stairs and opening the door crossed over into our new home.

Earlier today I sat in a sun-filled room, listening to Georgian chant in a town in Kurdistan. An hour later I embarked on the task of heating water for a cup of tea for a guest. While this sounds simple, it didn't feel simple. Still later, we made our first trip alone to the bazaar and the triumphal feeling of shopping in a language I don't know in a city that is new is akin to giving birth. I, indeed, am Woman! Hear me roar - in Kurdish, no less.

The enormity of all of this converges with how normal it feels and I feel yet again how beautifully complicated Home can be.

But though all of this has expanded our hearts and minds, nothing compares to the conversations, afternoon snacks, and meals we have shared the past days. In just two days our hearts have grown larger and I marvel at the new friendships, primarily with young men and women who are our kids' age. They are the future of Kurdistan and we are so honored to be with them during this time.

I will write more specifically about some of our new friends later, but for now, I am filled with gratitude and my heart is enlarged in the best way possible.


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • 15 Non-toy Gift Ideas for Kids

    Non-toy Gift Ideas Kids

    With Christmas just two weeks away, the pressure is on. And if your kids or the kids you’re buying for are like my kids, they really don’t NEED anything. Read more

    The 11 December 2018 by   Thesamanthashow
    LIFESTYLE, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Handle with Care: Consolidating Bill Traylor’s Artwork

    Conservator Catherine Maynor has extensive expertise caring for works on paper at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, including many by self-taught artists,... Read more

    The 11 December 2018 by   Americanart
    ART & DESIGN, CULTURE
  • Recipe: South African Three Bean Salad1 Min Read

    Recipe: South African Three Bean Salad1 Read

    Summer in South Africa means Braai - their word for BBQ. This light and bright salad makes the ideal complement to traditional BBQ fare. Serve it alongside... Read more

    The 11 December 2018 by   Healthytravelblog
    TRAVEL
  • December 12th - Freebies!

    December 12th Freebies!

    December 12th is... Gingerbread House Day, National Ding A Ling Day (1971), National Ambrosia Day, National Cocoa Day, National Poinsettia Day (1851), First... Read more

    The 11 December 2018 by   Catherine Mcdiarmid-Watt
    FAMILY, FINANCE, SHOPPING
  • Video: Africa's Okavango Delta in 360 Degrees

    Video: Africa's Okavango Delta Degrees

    360º video can be an amazing tool for delivering a unique experience. Case in point, the clip below takes us to Africa to visit the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Read more

    The 11 December 2018 by   Kungfujedi
    OUTDOORS
  • Human Missing Link Actually Missing in South Africa

    Human Missing Link Actually South Africa

    Taung, the first Australopithecus discovered, had an brain cast South Africa is home of the original "missing link" of human evolution. It's where Raymond Dart... Read more

    The 11 December 2018 by   Reprieve
    BIOLOGY, SCIENCE
  • Bell UH-1H Iroquois

    Bell UH-1H Iroquois

    @ Nut Tree Airport, CA September 2018 A tired Huey on outdoor display at the Center for Freedom Flight located at the Nut Tree Airport in Fairfield, CA. Read more

    The 11 December 2018 by   Htam
    PHOTOGRAPHY, SOCIETY