Tuesday, March 8, 2022 - 11:30
On International Women’s Day 2022, American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) recognizes the invaluable support of the Humanities Scholarships. Administered by AUIS’s Kashkul Center for Arts and Culture, the Scholarships provide financial support to young women studying humanities at the University. Kashkul is a research center at which students join local and international artists and scholars to study, create, and preserve cultures in the Kurdistan region and greater Iraq.
Since its inception in 2017, the Humanities Scholarship has benefitted 10 female AUIS undergraduate students from across the country and enabled them to follow their dreams of studying humanities. Student scholars major in programs such as English Literature, Journalism, Law, and International Studies and take courses in topics covering history, gender studies, philosophy, and more. After graduation, scholarship recipients have gone on to pursue various job opportunities, with several winners pursuing postgraduate degrees in the United States.
The Humanities Scholarship has been provided to the University through the generous support of a donor who wishes to remain anonymous but maintains a strong commitment to uplifting young women in the region through educational opportunities.
Detailing the intention behind the grant, the donor explained, “This grant is part of a larger global effort to help women and girls, as well as men and boys, focusing specifically on conflict zones where violence disproportionately affects women.”
“We have chosen to remain anonymous because this support should in no way focus on us, but on the women who anchor long-term peace efforts in their communities. As they rise, they will lift up everyone,” the donor continued.
According to Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS) at AUIS Dr. Choman Hardi, equal numbers of men and women study in the humanities departments at public universities in the region, where education is free. However, parents are more likely to support and pay for their sons to get a better education at more expensive private insitutitions.
“That’s where you have good quality education, especially liberal arts education, and when it comes to parents investing in their daughters, that’s where we don’t have the support that’s required,” she said.
“Education in humanities is very important, in particular for young women who are brought up in a patriarchal culture,” Dr. Hardi continued. “Humanities and social sciences provide us with the critical ability to examine our long-held views about men and women, and about our own capabilities and position in society, and for any woman to succeed, it’s very important to have awareness and the ability to challenge the limits set by society.”
Scholarship recipient Shene Mohammed credits her experiences as an AUIS student and her time interning at Kashkul with expanding her understanding of the value of arts and culture in society.
“The projects that find their home at Kashkul have taught me to behave not only with respect, but also warmth, knowing what treasures lie inside an artwork, a manuscript, and appreciating the power any kind of knowledge carries” she said, explaining further that her internship pushed her outside her comfort zone and taught her the importance of being challenged in order to grow.
“When co-organizing a Meet the Artist series, I learned the importance of connecting local artists to the region’s wider community,” she said. “This project opened conversations with artists about how they build their careers by developing skills for their own ideas to become their jobs.”
Listening to those artists, she said, showed her the strength and hard work necessary to overcome her fears for her future. Now at the University of Iowa, Shene is finishing a Master of Fine Arts program in Literary Translation.
“[At] Kashkul, I learned to read and ask [questions] as a translator; I learned to nurture what was inside so [I] could grow further in my next level of study and work,” she said, adding that her next step is to prepare for a Ph.D. program.
“Thank you so much for believing in me and for enabling me to be a part of Kashkul and of AUIS.”
American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) is the first non-governmental, not-for-profit, American-style university in Iraq. Founded in 2007 and operated for the public benefit, it is also the first non-governmental university in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region to be accredited by both the federal Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government. The only certified member in Iraq of the Association of American International Colleges and Universities (AAICU), the University welcomes students from diverse communities throughout Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. For more information, visit http://auis.edu.krd.
The Kashkul Center for Culture and the Arts at AUIS, headed by Center Director Dr. Andrew Slater, is a place where students join local and international artists and scholars to study, create, and preserve culture in both the Kurdish region and greater Iraq. Through its Artist-in-Residence program, Meet-the-Artist event series featuring local artists and cultural figures, and robust internship program, Kashkul serves AUIS students, artists, and the broader community by celebrating the rich world of arts and culture.