Onward / by Maranie Staab

I left Syracuse on Christmas Eve, bound for Kurdistan and uncertain of what the next several weeks might bring.

It's just past 5AM in Erbil and as I pack up the last of my things I look back on the past few weeks and it is bittersweet, only because I am just not quite ready to leave.

In just 3 short weeks I had the privilege of being allowed into the lives of countless people, was witness to a traditional Yazidi wedding, was inspired by the 14 and 15 year-old young women in my photography course and humbled daily by the grace and generosity of all those I met.

As is always the case, I’ve learned and gained more than I might ever hope to give. Thank you to everyone who touched my life, especially the JHK org team. .

I look forward to sharing more about this community and the individuals I met.

*All photo credits go to the seven young women in my photo course and to Salih, the selfie-master*