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Even though we didn't teach any boys yesterday they came back in force today. Tiny barbarians at the gate. I joked about riots on previous days, but it actually got pretty intense today. Some of the older boys took on the task of keeping the younger boys out of the training area, but most of them were doing it not to be good helpers, but because they wanted to be in a position of power. A really common occurrence was a handful of boys would breach the gates. I would catch the first one in and turn him around, and he would immediately start waving his ams at the kids behind him and say (I assume) "Get out! Get out!" As if his plan all along had been to get ahead of the mob so that he could help turn it back. The boys started getting pretty violent with each other and it got hairy for a second. Fortunately this security guard came out, and I don't know what horrors he inflicted upon them in the past, but they paid attention to him.



I asked our journalist Zack if he'd even been in a riot and he said, "Yeah, one time in South Korea I was in a riot between 50,000 civilians and 20,000 police."


"Ah," I said. "So bigger than this?"


The girls were of course wonderful and perfect. If I ever have 95 children, I hope they are all girls. We actually had well over a hundred today, split up between the older and younger girls. With the youngest ones we were happy to get them to hit some pads and do ground and pound. The older girls progressed to the eyes closed drill with a choke and bearhug. Considering the conditions they were training in - language barrier, way too many students, crazy hot, limited time - they actually did really well.



In the afternoon we got a tour of the American University here in Dohuk. It's a US sponsored university that's only a couple years old. All of the instruction is in English, and they have a diverse staff and student body. I'm coming back this weekend, but the rest of the team will be teaching there next week. The beautiful building makes a great contrast to the refugee camp we've been at so far, and it's great to think that we can provide instruction to such a range of people and situations.



After that tour we took our first jaunt into proper downtown Dohuk, and this is where we got the proper "Middle Eastern," experience. We ate at the best kebab place in Dohuk, which is impressive considering there are about a million of them in the city. Then we walked through a honeycomb of a bazaar, all scarves and spices and watches and so many shoes! Holy cow, Kurdish men must buy a lot of shoes. We also passed tons of delicious looking restaurants, cafes, and desserts. I don't really go for desserts, but they looked like they'd appeal to the sort of people that enjoy them.




Friday and Saturday are the weekend around here, so we have time off. We'll go to the major city in the region - Erbil - to be tourists, and apparently they have better prices on knockoff Gucci anyway. Just six days here have been incredibly exciting, and we've had way more doors open for us than we expected. We thought we'd have to wheedle for every opportunity and get turned away regularly, but I don't think we've had a single meeting refused, or anyone say, "We don't want you to get involved." It helps that we're not asking for anything but permission to help. All of the aid workers and refugee administrators that we've met have been genuine, hardworking people. They really do want to make things better for the refugees, and they're doing the best they can with extremely limited resources. We aren't making their lives easier by asking if we can create a swarming mass of near-feral young boys outside their offices, but they accept anyway because they want things to get better. And if we can do all of that, and also get to sit and drink tea by the canal, watching folks play cards in the evening, it's a good week. 





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