Sulaimani | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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Celebrating Nali

  On November 14th, 2016, students commemorated the National Day of Sulaimani by celebrating the works of the acclaimed Kurdish poet Nali. The organizers included students from AUIS, University of Sulamani and Salahaddin University, who are all on the staff of DidiMn - a literary website.  >> یەکەم ئیڤێنتی کلتووریی دیدی من بەهاوبەشیی زانکۆی ئەمریکی بەڕێوە چوو >> ڕۆژی نالی بە وێنە The evening began with a moving and powerful recitation of the poem "Camekay Nali Bo Slemani" by Rzgar Amin. Bushra Kasnasazi, a writer and professor at the University of Sulaimani then hosted a panel discussion on Nali's work with Kurdish writer Rabwar Siwaili, and Dr. Dilshad Ali, professor at University of Sulaimani. The discussion was focused on the research and publications on Nali's work produced by both the panelists. This was followed by a lively Q&A session with the panel. The discussion was followed by some poetry reading by journalist and poet Shalaw Habiba, while AUIS student Pshtewan Babakir read from English translation of the same poem.  The evening ended with a beautiful musical performance of Nali's poetry by the talented AUIS Oriental Music Club. Students also distibuted beautiful handmade souvenirs with Nail's most famous verses. The event, Nali's Day, was attended in great numbers by the literary community of Sulaimani and the AUIS community. The program was conducted by AUIS student Shatoo Diyar Bakir. The main organizers from AUIS included students Shene Mohammed, Zhiwar Jawhar and Pshtewan Babakir.  The event was made possible with the generous contribution of our sponsors: Chalaak's Place, Ako Printing, Bahar Group, and Taha Sadiq Group.   

A Presentation on Queen Puabi and the Royal Tombs of Ur

On May 28, 2015, the Head of Art History at University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Holly Pittman, was invited to AUIS to give a talk on Queen Puabi, one of the most famous queens of Sumer, the oldest civilization of Mesopotamia, and the treasures of the Royal Tombs of Ur. The site was excavated first in the 1920s and has provided one of the greatest collection of artefacts from ancient Sumer. Dr. Pittman has recently been working on a travelling exhibit of the Royal Tombs of Ur in the United States. Queen Puabi’s graves at Ur showcase the immense wealth of the earliest cities of Iraq and also raises questions about the status of women and the role of the afterlife in the ancient Mesopotamia. Puabi's grave is exceptional in that a large number of courtiers, both men and women, were sent to their deaths along with her when she died. It is the most famous case of mass suicide in ancient Mesopotamia. Listen to Dr. Pittman’s lecture in the podcast below.  Dr. Pittman was visiting AUIS as part of a group of American archaeologists currently travelling through the Kurdistan region. She was accompanied by Elizabeth Carter, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at UCLA, who has spent many years working in Iran and Iraq and has written an important textbook on Iranian archaeology. The presentation began with Dr. Carter providing a brief introduction to Sumer and Ur. Dr. Pittman then talked in detail about the Royal Tombs of Ur and specifically about the artefacts discovered from Queen Puabi’s graves. The presentation ended with a short talk by Breton Langendorfer, a Ph.D. student of Near Eastern Art History specializing in ancient Assyria. He talked briefly about his dissertation on Assyrian reliefs and how they tell the story of destruction of cities in ancient Assyria. The lecture was arranged by Tobin Hartnell, archaeologist and assistant professor of Social Sciences at AUIS. Check out our Facebook page for photos from the presentation.

AUIS students Hold Regular Reading Camps

Studying, chatting on the internet, and checking Facebook everyday takes up a lot of the time of men in the Kurdistan Region, in Iraq, and in the broader Middle East. However, there are some who want to escape from the meaningless and mundane activities of everyday life. They want to have a respite, to escape into books, an occasion when they can get away from everything but their books.  In Iraqi Kurdistan, there are dozens of students who regularly schedule a “reading retreat” in which they dedicate themselves to poring over their favorite books. These events are being held in different villages, towns, and cities in this region.  Each time a different student reserves a house or a villa belonging to a relative or himself. There they spend a week, a weekend, and sometimes even a month doing nothing but reading.  I have been involved in such reading camps for two years. However such events have been going on for many years, and no one can exactly mark its history. Students from different areas participate, mostly from Sulaimani, Hawler, Halabja, Chamchamal, and Rania. 15 students from the American University of Iraq Sulaimani participated in the most recent retreat that I participated in.  How and what to do? The person who arranges the reading camp creates an agenda and discusses it with his companions soon after they arrive at their destination. The agenda must include activities as well as reading periods and rests. In other words, the reading retreats we arrange are activities within activities.  Activities include hiking, swimming, watching movies, playing soccer, field trips to local museums and parks, and lectures by invited intellectuals.  At the end of each day, each participant presents a brief summary of what he read. This time, we headed to a very exciting place named Warte, a sub-district three hours from Sulaimani. The “reading retreat” took three days. In Warte, we went to a villa in the mountains. At night, I heard the cries of owls, and in the mornings, I heard a variety of birds, especially nightingale songs.   Because the place was a mountainous area, we were able to do something very exciting: hiking. We went to Karokh Mountain, one of the highest mountains in the Middle East region. Salman Ahmed, an AUIS student from Rania describes the hiking, “I was truly enjoying hiking in my last trip with some of my colleagues because one of my most interesting hobbies is hiking. It was my second time to do some Hiking in Karukh which is one of the highest mountains, and it is really a wonderful place for hiking especially during spring. Karukh stands against the Zagros Mountains, and we saw Halgurd Mountain which is the highest mountain in Iraq, and it is a part of the Zagros Range.” How Did We Feel? The reading and activities delight the participants. One mentioned, “Even though I dislike getting up early in the mornings, I am really pleased to have this chance to participate again because the reading, the food and above all, the activities and being with such great friends cannot be easily described.”  These reading retreats also reconcile participants with nature as in this hectic life, as they are too busy keeping up with the speed of their modern lifestyles. “These reading camps don’t only make me read books, but also read nature. Each plant is a book itself that should be read, and each sort of their leaves is a book too.” Danar, an AUIS student from Sulaimani said.  Krekar Muhammad from Rania was another participant and expresses his feeling, “This is unprecedented experience.  When you view someone reading, you subconsciously pick up a book and commence reading. I like the discussion part most because I think if you read something and have no reaction, you then have read nothing. But it is certainly fun to learn how our fellow reading campaign members value both the experience of reading and their time spending with books.

Ifpo Conducts Archaeology Workshops for AUIS Students

The workshops were arranged by Dr. Tobin Hartnell, assistant professor of Social Sciences at AUIS. The workshops came about as ifpo and AUIS are discussing the framework for future collaboration and cooperation between the two institutes on archeological work in the region. The workshops were led by Dr. Jessica Giraud, research fellow and resident archaeologist at Ifpo and Cécile Verdellet, also a ceramics archaeologist at Ifpo. Dr. Giraud delivered the first training workshop on May 2nd on the “principles of landscape archaeology”. She explained in great detail the concept of landscape archaeology and how it adds value to historical research. The students also learned about geographic coordinate systems and how to locate specific areas using modern GPS systems. It was a very useful exercise since most AUIS students do not use maps in their daily lives, but are now familiar with how maps are produced and how coordinate systems work. Cécile Verdellet led the second workshop on ceramics and pottery analysis on May 9th. It was an all-day training session on how archaeologists select and use particular pieces of pottery or ceramics to gain valuable insight about the past. They also learned about the special properties of clay that make it one of the most valuable artistic mediums of the pre-modern world. Students learned about how specialists would collect clay, shape vessels, fire vessels, and what ancient residents would use these vessels for. The third and final workshop was a field a trip to the Ranya Plain on May 16th to study landscape archaeology. Dr. Giraud used different historical sites and structures to explain and teach how archaeologists see and document landscapes for research purposes. The students also collected and reviewed samples of pottery and ceramics from some of the historical sites. Dr. Giraud was a very good guide and the site she chose systematically dealt with different issues of landscape archaeology to provide valuable lessons in archaeological survey. Overall, the workshops served as an excellent introduction to archaeological survey and training for the students. AUIS now aims to explore the possibility of running a more sustainable and systematic training program with Ifpo, Erbil to create a strong foundation for archaeological fieldwork in the region. See photos of the workshops on our facebook page. A full report of the workshops can be viewed online here.   

“Room Sharing” with Harvard Graduate School of Design via Digital Portal

The project was led by Dr. Hemin Latif, vice president of university advancement from AUIS and Tamara Jafar and Alexander Jacobson from GSD. Dr. Hemin explained that the idea behind the event was to extend the use of the internet beyond conventional conference calling and face-to-face meeting. Using custom designed software, the event created an augmented reality experience where participants from two ends seemed to be sharing the same physical space. The event was part of Harvard Graduate School of Design’s project entitled Interlaced Space, “which is the first iteration of an ongoing experiment in empowering civilians to directly connect despite pre-conceived, spatial, national, or cultural barriers,” according to their press release about the project. Dr. Latif explained that the event came about after a visit by Harvard student  Tamara Jafar to AUIS last year who initially proposed the project. Jafar is an Iraqi-American urban planning student with a political science background in conflict areas and is a member of Brooklyn-based indie rock band, Cultfever. The digital portal intermittently connected the AUIS cafeteria with Chauhaus Cafe at Harvard Graduate School of Design for four days from April 20th to 24th. The inaugural event on the 20th included interesting discussions and musical performances from students at both ends in the informal setting of their cafeterias. Food and snacks were provided on both sides to add to the natural interaction of the participants. The Interim President of AUIS, Dr. Esther Mulnix, and Associate Dean at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Michael Hays, also spoke to the students at the event. “Only when we believe that distant communication cannot get better and our social life cannot be more controlled by Information Technology, come new ideas and tools that challenge our perception. This project for example, made us rethink how institutions and communities across the world might communicate and socialize in the near future due to continuous innovation in the use of Information Technology,” said Latif about the event. “We believe that the participants enjoyed the experience. A good number of students have signed up for follow up events and further interaction,” he added. While this particular setup was arranged for the launch event only, other smaller events are planned for the future, such as classroom discussions.   Dr. Latif extended his thanks to Korak Agha from AUIS IT department, IT student volunteers, Dr. Esther Mulnix, Ms. Tamara Jafar and Mr. Alexander Jacobson from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, AUIS Communications department and Avesta Restaurant for their support. Read more about the project in this press release by Harvard GSD. See photos of the event on our facebook page. 

AUIS Academic Preparatory Program Awarded International Accreditation

AUIS Academic Preparatory Program
April, 2015 - The American University in Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) is proud that the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) has granted the University’s Academic Preparatory Program (APP) a five year accreditation, from April 2015 to April 2020. CEA is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accrediting agency for English language programs and institutions in the U.S. APP Director Rachel Laribee has been leading the accreditation process since 2012. She emphasized that “For APP, the news for accreditation was wonderful. But the real gift of accreditation was the process that we have gone through the past three years, to make sure our program really is giving the quality instruction that we say we are giving.” She continued, “I hope our students realize that this process is for them. So that when they decide to come to AUIS, they are enrolling in a program that not only strives to follow best practices, but works to deliver quality instruction.” APP operates with a high level of quality, with an approved program of study, qualified instructors, adequate resources, and approved recruitment and admissions policies. And through the hard work of the APP staff and instructors, APP has acquired public recognition with this accreditation which indicates that it fully meets US and international standards set by the US Department of Education. “For APP students, accreditation ensures that they receive a high standard of education. This also gives them a competitive advantage in jobs requiring English skills,” explained Laribee. “For AUIS, this represents a first step towards accreditation for the university as a whole. University accreditation is important for the acceptance and transfers of credits earned, and is a prerequisite for many graduate programs.” Talking about some of the trials they faced during the accreditation process, Laribee said, “The main challenges we faced were finding the time to write the self-study and to formalize all of our policies and procedures, while still having to run the day to day functions. During this time, our program also doubled in size, so it was quite challenging to get everything finished within a few years.” Although she was leading the process, Laribee acknowledges the hard work of the APP staff and instructors in ensuring accreditation for the program. “Without the work of all APP teachers, this could not have been done. Stacie Long was a great help in writing the self-study, and along with the program’s Deputy Director, Katherine Yaw, all APP Faculty - those currently here and those who have since left- were a huge part of the process,” she said. The Interim President of AUIS, Dr. Esther E. Mulnix, was delighted to hear of the accreditation. She stated: “AUIS strives to implement its mission and live its vision to deliver quality education at every level. The community of trustees, faculty, staff, and students have all come together to obtain the accreditation of the English Program that APP delivers.” The Director of Enrollment Paul Craft added, “AUIS focuses on quality. APP’s accreditation by CEA certifies that our program is equal in quality to English language programs in the US, Europe or the Gulf States. Students can get a high quality education at Iraqi tuition rates and without leaving Iraq, the KRG or Sulaimani!” For further information about this accreditation, please contact CEA, 801 North Fairfax Street, Suite 402A, Alexandria, VA 22314, (703) 665-3400,
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