Tell us about the Kurdish Society, King’s Community Fund project.
The Kurdish Society have been hosting Kurdish language lessons from 2022 to the present year thanks to the King’s Community Fund. Our aim is to educate others about Kurdish culture, history and language, especially in support of those who face restrictions back home. Everyone is welcome to join our lessons – we have invited Kurdish students that may not know their mother tongue as well as other students who may be interested in the culture. Typically, we have around 30 regular attendees – and students even bring their parents along! We believe we are the only group offering free Kurdish language lessons in the whole of the UK – demonstrating how important our project is.
Our teacher is very kind and friendly – he not only teaches us the language but educates us on history and culture too. He gives Kurdish nicknames to students in class who do not have a Kurdish name, particularly those denied Kurdish names at birth in Turkey, Syria and Iran.
What roles did you do?
Our core team, Ali, Melinda and Rukya, all had different roles and tasks that we completed, such as communicating with teachers and students, getting resources ready, organising room bookings, advertising the course through social media and Eventbrite, and welcoming and signing people in on-the-day.
Talk about King’s Community Fund.
The King’s Community Fund made a massive difference to our project. We originally planned to put the classes on for 6 weeks and the fund allowed us to make our classes free and accessible to all. We were also able to give free books away to all students.
You are very passionate about this project. Can you talk about that more?
Ali: Many Kurds, like me, grew up not knowing their language. Through learning the language you can learn more about yourself, other people and become more involved in the community.
Rukya: I grew up speaking Kurdish but felt I lacked a community. When I joined the Kurdish Society, I found out that only a few members could speak the dialects as they just hadn’t had the chance to learn, this made me realise the importance of developing this project.
Melinda: Language is one of the most important aspects of culture. There's a famous quote “If my mother tongue is shaking the foundations of your state, it probably means that you built your state on my land.” by Musa Anter, a Kurdish writer who was assassinated by the Turkish government in 1992. So many young Kurds have been denied the rights to learn their language and it has become a key missing element from our community. To be able to deliver this project is an honour.
What was successful in your project?
We saw that our project was successful when students, who were initially unfamiliar with Kurdish, progressed to holding beginner conversations after 12 weeks of classes – this was an immensely heartwarming achievement! Additionally, there is a strong sense of community each week – after classes the students will catch-up and go on a walk or get dinner together.
Any advice for other students who are considering volunteering?
Rukya: Just go for it. Initially, I was hesitant but being a part of an existing student group made it easier as you can support one another with planning and delivering a project.
Melinda: The main advice I’d give is be passionate about what you want to do – my passion for culture, education and language has provided me with the strength to organise this project.
Ali: If you're unsure where to start, ask another student group for tips and advice on beginning a volunteer project. Their insights can be invaluable.