Another foreign language may be taught at Metro high schools soon.

Tuesday night, the Metro School Board voted unanimously to request for the state to add Kurdish as a foreign language credit option in Metro high schools. The request still has to go through the state, but it's received strong support within the Kurdish community.

"I take old family photographs and depict my family's journey from Kurdistan to America," said artist Nuveen Barwari, walking through old black and white photographs she'd painted with bright colors. "It gives them a place in history."

Barwari spoke from a space where she does her work at Tennessee State University.

"This is definitely a way for me to hold on to my heritage," she continued pointing to more art pieces. "That's my mom. My dad is in this one. They immigrated here in the 70s to escape Saddam Hussein's regime. They were the first wave of Kurds that came to Nashville."

A snippet from a Nashville Banner article from about 40 years ago hangs in Barwari's work space. In it, her family talked about their hope their children would know their past and culture. Barwari said that's not always easy for young people like her, born in Nashville, more than 6,500 miles from Kurdistan.

"That's why I'm so drawn to fabrics and rugs," she continued. "It gives me a sense of home and belonging."

Barwari strongly supports the idea of teaching Kurdish in metro schools. 

"It'll definitely bridge the gap between these different generations of Kurds in Nashville," she said.

Barwari said it's not just about Kurdish young people connecting to their roots. In a city with the largest Kurdish population in the US, she sees this as a chance for people to better understand her community.

"Hey, this is us," she said. "We're your neighbors. The language definitely identifies us. It gives us a sense of identity. As young students, that's something that we need."

A rep for the Tennessee Kurdish Community Council also told News4 they're thrilled and eager at the possibility of the language being added to the curriculum. The rep said the organization is very hopeful the request will pass the state and represent one a large minority group in the district.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Forrest Sanders is an award-winning reporter, videographer and editor at News4.

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