Two weeks a ago, on a day with scorching heat, I took a taxi . The driver was a handsome young man who seemed to be flexible with any amount of money. When I opened the front door, I felt the joy in his eyes, something normal to any taxi driver who hunts a customer, but this time, it was different.
I hurried to ask him about his other job besides being a taxi driver. I thought of everything but the answer he gave. He had just graduated from high school. So automatically my next question was: how much did you get on the final exams? I thought of every number but the answer he gave, again. He had gotten 97! His facial expressions were enough evidence to me to believe him.
The taxi driver was among Kurdistan region’s top ten students and Sulaimani’s top three students. I was really happy to be with someone like that. I asked him whether there was a special university or department in his mind. It was clear that he was still thinking for an answer. I told him that I am student at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani, and if he is not planning to join Law department, it would be the best for him to come and study at AUI-S.
He was about to fly in joy when I told him. He told me that he was looking for a student from AUI-S to ask him some questions. He actually asked me too many questions, but I was more than happy to answer him. He has been to AUI-S and met with D. John Agresto. I gave him my cell phone no and paid for the ride with a promise to help him whenever he decides to come to AUI-S.
I saw him three days ago. He was with another smart friend of his. I saw the financial aid form in his hands. I immediately knew that it was financial aid form because I, myself, am on financial aid program. I asked him, “didn’t you tell me that were among the top ten?” he said, “yes, but they told me to fill in this form too.” I couldn’t understand, but they were told by AUI-S admissions and administration. I told him not to worry, and that he will be accepted without any tuition.
Now, if you have read so far. Read this next story too!
I took another taxi yesterday. This time, the driver was a man in his mid-40s. His taxi was an old one without an air conditioner. I told him to take me to the American University, and I was regretful to say it, because I knew that he will pour me with questions. He did! I asked him some questions and this time, I felt that I was lucky. Because the driver had gotten 97 in 1987 in his high school final exam!
He was a taxi driver and not a doctor or an engineer because he had been imprisoned by Saddam’s regime for being accused of being a PUK member. He told me that he can’t study university because of his age.
The story of the young driver with 97 came to my mind. I told the old driver with 97 to give me his cell phone no because I would speak with Dr. Barham Salih about his issue when he visits AUI-S.
Now, Dear Dr. Barham Salih, Kurdistan Prime Minister
Mr. Umed, the old taxi driver, is a citizen in this country. His dreams were butchered by Saddam’s regime because he was a student with nationalist feelings and duties. You are responsible of him now! He told me that he is ready to study again and he promised that he will beat every other student with his high grades. He deserves a better place than what he is now!
Dear Dr. John Agresto, AUI-S provost
Why didn’t you give a full scholarship to the young taxi driver? For God’s sake, he is among Kurdistan’s top ten students. Do you think that you can solve your financial problems with the money you get from these students? Do you want his future to be like Mr. Umed’s, the old taxi driver?
Kurdistan and Iraq need people like those taxi drivers, not those who know nothing but consumption. Dr. Barham Salih has a duty to solve Mr. Umed’s problem, and AUI-S has duty to give full scholarship to our young taxi driver.