Wednesday December 12, 2018
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Baghdad students to neglect war and gander for love

Baghdad students who have seen war from a long time is now ignoring it and are looking for love

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Student taking lecture in Baghdad . Image Source: www.wikipedia.org
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War is all Baghdad University students have ever known.

Iraq is awash in armed groups, targeted killings, sectarian bombings, and Islamic State brutality. Perhaps because of that, students prefer to focus on their future, their friends, Facebook and love.

The university campus is closed off by two checkpoints, but once inside, tree-lined driveways and green park-like spaces surround the somewhat tired classroom buildings.

Inside, students are getting ready to take their final exams- milling around the classroom, laughing and chatting.

The young women are well-coiffed, with perfectly straightened hair, high-definition eyebrows and glossed lips.

The more conservative women wear long sleeves and cover their hair, but scarves are red or blue, and the long skirts are form fitting. Other women wear their hair loose, and are in jeans and blouses.

Young men are laughing, some sporting the latest haircut of close-cropped sides and a long mop of hair on top.

Graduate students flying off their hats. Image Source: wkimedia commons
Graduate students flying off their hats.
Image Source: wkimedia commons

FILE – Baghdad University graduates wave national flags as they celebrate during a graduation ceremony in Baghdad, Iraq, July 14, 2012.

Most of these students were toddlers when U.S. soldiers stormed into Iraq in 2003, and they were not even teenagers when al-Qaida was terrorizing the country.

Since then, violence has become a way of life. Islamic State is just one in a string of nightmares to deal with on a daily basis.

A large bomb exploded in east Baghdad just as the students were taking their exams. They shrugged it off.

Hamid Muwaffak laughs with his friends on a bench underneath a tree on the campus’s main square, near the cafeteria where Nestle Toll House has just opened a stand.

Also Read: Baghdadi killed, how he built caliphate

He has no idea why anyone would want to join IS.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe they’re getting paid but, personally, I don’t know why someone would kill people and blow himself up. I don’t know, and I’m sure if the government knew why, they would do something about it. I just don’t know.”

A mechanical engineering student who is about to graduate, Muwaffak is more worried about finding work.

“I’m in my fourth year and I am thinking about my future, what I will do,” he said. “I hope that when I graduate, I can find a job, start my career. But for now, the situation is not very good. There are no jobs, unless you have the backing of someone important.”

It’s a thinly veiled reference to the vast corruption and nepotism that dominates Iraq.

‘Trying to have fun’

But in spite of, or perhaps because of, the armed checkpoints and blast walls outside the campus, the students say life in Baghdad is like any other city.

Sajida, who would only give her first name, constantly plays with her fashionably straightened long black hair as she talks with friends.

“Even if there is a war, we can live a normal life, like we go out, we have fun, we make love stories. Even if there is a war, there is love,” she said.

She says she goes to restaurants, cafes and malls, she enjoys being with her friends, and she spends a lot of time on her cellphone. She laughs that she is not a great student.

But for Sajida, there is more to life than war.

“We are just trying to have fun, forget about wars,” she said.

Many Iraqis would like to do the same, if only they could. (VOA)

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  • Shubhi Mangla

    These students are the future of Iraq….glad to know that they are devoid of any hatred!

  • Archita aggarwal

    A moove towards peace

Next Story

Children In California To Return To School, 3 Weeks After The Wildfire

Schoolwork will probably be secondary to dealing with trauma and reconnecting with friends, said Paradise High Principal Loren Lighthall.

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Erica Hail hugs her son Jaxon Maloney, 2, while preparing her older children for their first day of school since the Camp Fire destroyed their home in Yuba City, Calif. VOA

Eight-year-old Bella Maloney woke up next to her little brother in a queen-size bed at a Best Western hotel and for breakfast ate a bagel and cream cheese that her mother brought up from the lobby.

And then she was off to school for the first time in nearly a month.

For Bella, brother Vance and thousands of other youngsters in Northern California who lost their homes or their classrooms in last month’s deadly wildfire, life crept a little closer to normal Monday when school finally resumed in most of Butte County.

“They’re ready to get back,” Bella’s mother, Erica Hail, said of her children. “I think they’re sick of Mom and Dad.” At school, “they get to have time alone in their own space and their own grade and they get to just be by themselves.”

California, School
Erica Hail, back left, dresses son Vance Maloney, 5, while preparing her children for their first day of school since the Camp Fire destroyed their home in Yuba City, Calif. voa

Schools in the county had been closed since Nov. 8, when the blaze swept through the town of Paradise and surrounding areas, destroying nearly 14,000 homes and killing at least 88 people in the nation’s deadliest wildfire in a century. About two dozen people remain unaccounted for, down from a staggering high of 1,300 a few weeks ago.

About 31,000 students in all have been away from school since the disaster. On Monday, nearly all of them went back, though some of them attended class in other buildings because their schools were damaged or destroyed, or inaccessible inside evacuation zones.

Bella was shy and not very talkative but agreed she was excited to be going back. She wanted to see her friends.

The small, tidy hotel room with two queen beds has been home to the family of five for some two weeks. Since they lost nearly everything to the fire, there was little to clutter up the space. The Hails are booked there until February.

“Bella, what time is it?” Hail asked her daughter, waking her up in their hotel room.

“Seven dot dot three five,” came the 8-year-old’s sing-song reply. 7:35. It was time to brush her teeth, comb her hair and hit the road for a nearly hourlong drive to school in the family SUV.

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Bella Maloney, 8, arrives for her first day of school since the Camp Fire leveled her family’s home, in Durham, Calif. VOA

A few minutes later, at seven-dot-dot-four-seven, they were out the door.

Some families driven out by the inferno have left the state or are staying with friends or relatives too far away for the children to go back to school in Butte County.

The Hails — whose five-bedroom, two-bath home in Paradise was destroyed — are staying in Yuba City, a long drive from their new school in Durham.

It was shortly before the 9 a.m. start of the school day when they pulled up to Durham Elementary School, where Bella is in third grade and Vance is in half-day kindergarten.

Across the county, nearly all of the teachers are returning to provide a familiar and comforting face to the children.

“It’s important that the kids are able to stay together and have some sort of normalcy in the crazy devastation that we’re having now,” said Jodi Seaholm, whose daughter Mallory is a third-grader.

Mallory underwent radiation in October to treat a recurrence of brain cancer and showed no fear, Seaholm said, but “this situation with her house burning down has absolutely devastated her.”

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Trees reflect in a swimming pool outside Erica Hail’s Paradise, Calif., home, which burned during the Camp Fire. VOA

Counselors brought in from around the country were in nearly every classroom Monday to help children who were distressed by their escape through a burning town and the loss of their homes, Paradise school Superintendent Michelle John said at a celebratory news conference. Many of the teachers lost their homes as well.

“Our kids are traumatized,” John said. “Their families are traumatized.”

Most of Paradise High School survived but is inaccessible.

The district doesn’t have space yet for intermediate and high school students whose classrooms were rendered unusable, so for the 13 days before the holiday break begins, they will learn through independent study. They will have access to online assignments and a drop-in center at a mall in Chico where they can get help from teachers or see classmates.

Also Read: Australia Suffers From Heat And Fuel Wildfires

Schoolwork will probably be secondary to dealing with trauma and reconnecting with friends, said Paradise High Principal Loren Lighthall.

“They don’t have their church, they don’t have their school, they don’t have their work, they don’t have their friends. They don’t have any of that stuff, and we’re asking them to write five-paragraph essays?” Lighthall said. “It’s just unreasonable at this point. We’re going to do it, but we’re going to be super flexible with what we require.” (VOA)