Iraq: Building Peace for the Next Generation

by David Hovde

Besides working for the CPT-Iraq team, Mohamed Salah teaches English to sixth and seventh graders in Suliemaniya.  While in Chicago for CPT’s Peacemaker Congress, Salah spoke to numerous school groups.  He shared letters and videos of his students singing songs of greeting and friendship in English.

At one west side school, a teacher expressed concern about the presence of military recruiters and fear that his students may not think they have alternatives to what the military offers them. 

The class of mainly Latino students sat on the floor in the gym to view slides of CPTer David Hovde’s time on the CPT Iraq team.  Then Salah showed the video of his students singing.

“The leaders of our countries talk to each other, but the common people don’t,” he told the students.  “Making friendships between the common people of our countries is a way to make peace.”

One student asked what kind of music people in Kurdistan like.  The teacher pulled up a YouTube video of a popular Kurdish musician and Salah offered an impromptu Kurdish dance lesson, leading a line of students hand in hand around the gym.  

Salah then gave the class letters from his students in Kurdistan.  He said that, besides letter writing, he hoped the students could also exchange artwork to display at the schools.  Perhaps someday they could even visit each other’s schools.  

When asked what his biggest accomplishment was, Salah said, “I’m doing it at this moment, building peace between our countries for the next generation.”