Living in a War Zone: Iraq

War is Limitless

Approximately 90 percent of North Star’s ELL students are from Iraq. They escaped the war in their home country, seeking safety in the United States. After attacks in 2014 by ISIS, many families fled to surrounding cities in order to stay alive.

Sophomore Hozhin Suleman fled to Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan, after ISIS attacked her village near Mosul. She went to school in Erbil, but could not last for more than one year because she was treated unequally in the school because of her Yezidi religion.

Many families could not survive the conditions in the camps as winter approached, so they returned to their villages even though ISIS was still close to the area.

Suleman returned to her village when ISIS was only two miles away. Fighting was still going on between ISIS fighters and Peshmerga, the Kurdistan army.

“I saw ISIS’s flag and their cars from my village. They were that close to us,” Suleman said.

The community decided to open schools so students would have education to take their focus away from the war going on around them.

“They started school late because there weren’t enough teachers to teach at the beginning,” Suleman said, “Teachers did not get salaries from the government. But because many teachers were Yezidis, they continue to teach us for free. They were at school till late hours sometimes to catch us up with school in order to graduate.”

“Every day we wake up to sounds of guns and bombs. We were so frightened all the time in school and at home,” Suleman said, “Sometimes, I was doing my homework, and the sounds of guns would start again. I would just would leave the homework because I was not sure if I would be able to go to school the next morning.”  

Suleman had to leave school and the village in the middle of final exams because the sound of guns and tanks did not stop.

Suleman said the most important thing every student should have in order to succeed and learn is safety.

Suleman came from Iraq one year ago along with her family through International Organization for Migration (IOM) because Suleman brother Mazon worked with The United States Army.