Saturday, September 26, 2009

Second Blog posting from Iraq

Carl writing; Carolyn in brackets.
We have recently gone through the three day holiday called Eid al-Fitr, the period of celebration and feasting that follows the month of fasting called Ramadan. During Ramadan, observant Muslims do not eat or drink during the daylight hours. Eid is a major holiday when many stores close, and at the university, many offices were closed to allow local employees time with family. This link to an AP story will give you some indication of the meaning of the holiday, and also the role that the Kurdish area of the country is playing in the larger Iraqi way of life:
The new American-style university referred to in the article is, of course, AUIS, and we are pleased to be part of what it is bringing to this part of the country, and hopefully to the rest of Iraq.

In this report, I will concentrate on two topics: the university and shopping for essentials. There are more photos at and I will refer to several of them as I write.

AUIS started classes in the spring of 2008 with 50 students. This fall, we have 500. About 400 of these students are in an English language preparation program while the remaining 100 students are in undergraduate degree programs. It is the latter group of students that Carolyn and I will be working with. All of our students for the fall term were in regular undergrad courses in the spring term so we will not be dealing with any first time freshman students. I will be teaching the second half of a course in the history of the West/World. Carolyn will be teaching the second half of accounting and assisting the business office of the university in setting up accounting systems.

The university has gone from one main administration building to an administration building plus lots of modular structures for classrooms and faculty offices to accommodate the rapid growth in the number of students. I have included a photo of the administration building. Classes start tomorrow, Sunday, September 27th. The normal work week is Sunday through Thursday, with Friday and Saturday constituting the weekend. We look forward to the beginning of work with students. {We intend on sharing a little about our lives back home by way of power point slides which we will share in class.}

Getting the necessities: We have now been to Zaras three times to stock up on food and other household items. Zaras (see photo above) is a two story store that sells a little bit of everything: food, clothing, housewares, small electric appliances. It is a very small version of a Walmart Superstore. Having all this under one roof is most helpful. But we cannot depend on finding the same things there from week to week. In our first trip, there was no ground beef, but we found some English cookies (biscuits) that we like. Yesterday, there was ground beef but no cookies. We have been advised that if a store has something we really like, to buy it now, knowing it may not be available later. We have also been to the bazaar section of the city, a much older section, where lots of things are available, but only by doing a lot of walking from one group of stores to another. All of the meat sellers are grouped together – an interesting experience to walk through after living in a society that isolates the messy and gory parts of butchering from those of us who ultimately purchase a sanitized package of meat in the grocery story. {We saw live chickens and turkeys as well as ones who had just been killed.} Others sellers are likewise grouped together: cell phone sellers, baby clothes sellers, etc. {The average shop is the width of a king-size bed and about twice as deep.}

The products we consume come from all over the world. As you might expect, lots of stuff from China, but then frozen fish from Vietnam, pickled vegetables from Iran, honey and salt from Saudi Arabia, apricot jam from Syria, pots and pans from France and Turkey. To date we have not paid a lot of attention to the prices that we are paying for what we purchase. We need it, there really is no meaningful way to price shop, so we buy it.

I close this second blog with a reference to the third of the photos included above. We had just purchased some dried apricots from the young man in the photo. He agreed to a photo. The apricots are delicious, as are fresh fruits like water melon and muskmelon.
We are well. We wish you all the best, and thank you for Blog comments even when this medium does not allow for individual comments.

1 comment:

  1. Your blogs and photos are truly inspiring and informative. I eagerly look forward to the next postings. Thank you for taking time to share them.