STUDENTS were given an eye-opening glimpse into Iraq by a diplomat in preparation for a school visit to the recovering nation.
Dozens of pupils at King Edward VI learnt about the history, culture and education system of Kurdistan during a presentation by Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman – a high representative of the regional government.
Ms Rahman, who was joined by Gary Kent, from the Kurdistan All-Party Parliamentary Group, visited the Bury St Edmunds school ahead of a trip in March by sixth form students to the once war torn nation.
The visit aims to help train teachers and develop youth leaders while raising the profile of sport at King Edward’s two Kurdish partner schools.
Ms Rahman, who described Kurdistan as ‘secure and stable’, praised the trip, which is understood to be one of the first of its kind.
She said: “From the perspective of the Kurdish schools, there has been decades of isolation and there’s a real desire to learn about the rest of the world. It’s a fantastic opportunity which will hopefully open more doors.
“It’s a very pro-British place. It’s an innovative and revolutionary idea. I suspect as time goes by many other schools will follow.”
The high representative, students and staff also spoke to teachers at partner school Dwaroj, in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah, via an online video link.
Pupils Matt Osborne, 13, Laura Paveley, 17, Jessica Larwood and Tony Diver, both 14, were fascinated by the talk.
Jessica said: “It surprised me because it seems really different to the way the media portrays it. I didn’t realise how developed they are compared to a couple of years ago.”
Headteacher Geoff Barton added: “The talk was utterly inspiring. It reminded us what the whole project is about, which is getting an insight into a culture different from our own.” The school has yet to decide which students will visit Kurdistan.