Breaking the Mould.

In life, one can have many sources of inspiration. When I ask myself the question “What inspires me?”, I can answer this question in the following way. I was born and raised in the Netherlands but I have my roots in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq. Both of my parents were born there. My father was a Kurdish freedom fighter or so-called ‘peshmerga’ during the reign of the Baath regime in Iraq. He and many other people have experienced awful situations. When my mother was eight years old her father passed away. From that moment my grandmother became a widow and had to raise eight children without the ability to read and write. Despite my grandmother being illiterate, she managed to raise eight children who all got a degree. However, this is not the main thing my mother tells me about my grandmother. What she emphasizes is the way my grandmother raised her children. The prominent advice she always gave was that all she wanted for her children was them to become happy in life, on the condition that they would finish their education. She was not educated due to the time and place she grew up in. When she was young, her brother did not let her go to school. That is why she wanted all her children to go to school because that was one of the things she would have loved.

There are many stereotypes based on gender roles. Some stereotypes of men are that they are dominating, independent, breadwinners, unemotional, and ambitious. Women have as stereotypes that they are obedient, dependent, domestic, emotional, and warm (Balswick and Ward 1978: 46). Both my father and my mother have shown me that they have broken these patterns due to the way they have taught me what strength is. Strength in a different way. What I have learned from my father was that strength lies in, despite all the hardships, still being there for others. What I admire about my father is the attitude he generated throughout the years. An attitude of spreading positivity, an attitude of seizing the day and last but not least, an attitude of warmth towards others. He was one of the warmest people I have known. I had already noticed this when I was young. I told myself that when I grew older I wanted to be exactly like that. What I have learned from my mother was that strength lies in not giving up. When my mother came to the Netherlands she managed to finish an education and to work at an elementary school as a teaching assistant. During the period where my father was sick, she went to work, took care of two children and she was there every day for my father. In 2013 my father passed away. My mother became a widow herself. She has shown me that she is one of the most independent and ambitious women I know who has always moved forward. These two sources of inspiration are something that I carry with me every day.




Balswick, J. and Ward, D. (1978). “Strong men and virtuous women: a content analysis of sex

roles stereotypes”, The Pacific Sociological Review, 21(1): 45-53.

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