For the past three Thursdays in a row (January 14, 21, 28)we invited students from our classes to our apartment for dinner and conversation. We served Sloppy Joe sandwiches (aka, a Spanish hamburger recipe that came from my family), salad, chips, and homemade brownies. My mother (Ruth Falls) would be so pleased to know that the very recipe she used to prepare food for Anderson College students was used here and that some of the students asked for her recipe. The students seemed genuinely to enjoy being in our home, something that just does not happen for Iraqi university faculty and students.
When given the opportunity to watch a movie together or sit in conversation, all three groups preferred conversation. That is not to say young Iraqi people don’t like American movies. They love them!!! They simply enjoy visiting with us as we share about ourselves and learn more about them. It truly is an evening of learning for all of us. We are reminded by them that although there is so much room for improvement and growth here, the changes which have occurred in the past ten years are enormous and life is so much better here today than it was when they were in elementary school. There really has been massive change in a very short time.
For instance, most of them remember a time when most families did not have a car and now almost all families have at least one car if not more. They remember a time when there were no banks and now there are choices of banks. The students admittedly agreed with us that the banks are not particularly efficient, but they see improvement almost daily. Young people remember the day when everything was made in another country and imported here—now Coke and Pepsi are manufactured in the capital of Kurdistan, Erbil. Although the internet is very frustrating at times because of poor band width, fiber optics is just months away. Where we get frustrated with short power outages (the power went down momentarily five or six times last evening when they were here), they can remember when there was no power for hours every day.
And yet with the all the rapid change, tradition still plays a very large part in most social customs. It is good fun to talk with the students about dating and marriage. For them, parents continue to play a significant role in the choice of spouse, and open dating prior to engagement and marriage is rare. One group wanted Carl and me to tell them about how we met, dated and married. They said they thought we were an exemplary couple and admired our commitment to each other. That was rewarding to hear from them.
As we have mentioned, one of our most favorite experiences here is getting into some of our students’ homes and meeting their families. We have more of those events planned in the next few weeks. All of this being said, these young people will forever be in our hearts and we have hopes of some of them visiting us someday in the States.
We close this blog with a few pictures of our student suppers, including one when Dr. John Agresto, the Provost of AUIS, was able to join us.
The next four photos are of Carl's classes.
The next four photos are of Carolyn's classes.