4th Annual Kurdish Youth Festival


Kurdish Youth in Diaspora Will Explore Their Identity through Competitions, Shows, Festivities and Intellectual Endeavors during Three Unforgettable Days in San Diego, CA January 2013

logoSan Diego, USA. November 2012- The most anticipated gathering of the year for Kurdish youth across the US and Diaspora at large will be held at Hotel Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines, in sunny San Diego, Ca on January 4-6, 2012. The Kurdish Youth Festival committee would like to extend their warmest welcome and invite guests to register online in advance in order to take part in this memorable festival. All of the programs of the festival will be held at this four star hotel; therefore, the committee has arranged for the attendees to receive unprecedented discounts on their room rates. Hotel guests will also be able to attend a free boat tour of the San Diego Harbor.

Korang Abdullah (Kae Kurd), Kurdish youth’s dynamic comedian, along with female co-host Helat Tahir, will entertain and enlighten the guests, and lead them through a fantastic weekend of events. The festival will include well-respected guest speakers, interactive round-table discussions on returning to Kurdistan, and panel discussions on women, tolerance, and the Kurdish language.

Crowd favorites, such as the Art Auction, Film Competition, and a more elaborate version of the trivia contest, will return for another round of applause. While new events, such as an interactive Helperkê workshop with audience participation, will bring fresh energy and excitement to the line-up.

There will be a gripping short one-act play by Cklara Moradian and Soraya Fallah. Kurdish Rapper Serhado will give a sensational performance. He will also act as one of the judges of the festival’s most popular event: Kurds Got Talent. The grand prize of the talent show will be a round trip flight to Kurdistan. Talent show hopefuls should sign up online as soon as possible.

As in every year, the festivities will come to an end with a grand Kurdish concert with live performances by two well known and loved artists. The spectacular festival finale is expected to fill up to capacity. The committee has invited award-winning photographers and directors to photo/video document the entire event.

Thanks to Diamond sponsor Asiacell, who is sponsoring the festival for the second year in a row, the committee is able to extend scholarship opportunities to youth pursuing an education. This year there are eight opportunities to win a scholarship through the annual essay contest. The committee encourages all current undergraduate students or high school seniors applying to a college or university to enter the contest.

The annual Kurdish Youth Festival is a volunteer run non-for-profit non affiliated organization and is only able to operate through sponsorships from organizations and individual donations. The financial commitment of sponsors makes every one of the above events possible. Every dollar invested in the Kurdish Youth Festival is a dollar invested in the future of the Kurdish Youth. The committee is dedicated to providing quality programming with minimal administrative costs. You are invited to make a direct difference in strengthening the Kurdish identity of youth in Diaspora.

Email:  kyf@kurdishyouthfestival.org
Website: http://kurdishyouthfestival.org
Twitter: @KurdFestivalUSA | #4KYF

Qubad Talabani: It’s Time to Go Back to Kurdistan

Qubad Talabani: It’s Time to Go Back to Kurdistan
By Sîrwan Kajjo
(originally published in the June 2012 issue of
The Kurdish Review, a monthly Kurdish newspaper from Washington, DC. Reprinted here by request of author)

US Representative of Kurdistan Regional Government Qubad Talabani is getting ready to leave his office this year. After 12 years of representing Kurds in several positions, Talabani is expected to be working in the Prime Minister office once he’s back in Erbil. To shed light on this issue and other relevant matters, The Kurdish Review met with Mr. Talabani for this exclusive interview.

Sîrwan Kajjo (L) interviews Qubad Talabani (R)

Kurdish Review: Let’s begin with the continuous dispute between KRG and central government, how do you see the US stance on this crisis?

Qubad Talabani: There is obviously a political dispute within the federal government, and this dispute is a natural dispute between legitimate entities in the country. The United States is no longer in charge of Iraq. Iraq is a sovereign country, so these disputes have to be managed domestically, managed by the governments themselves.  It’s not the United States’ role to have a stance. It’s not for the US to take one side over the other. I think the US is trying to normalize its relation with Iraq. I think what the US wants out of all of this is an outcome that will lead to stability.

KR: There were Kurdish delegations from Turkey, Syria and Iran in Washington DC over the last few weeks to meet with US officials. Did you get to meet and/or Help them?

Qubad: We were pleased to meet all of our delegations in town. The details of the Eastern Kurdistan delegation was less clear to me.  But I was certainly aware and closely following BDP/DTK delegation and Kurdish National Council in Syria’s delegation. We received them here in the office and gave them our advice of the kind of things that people here in Washington are interested in. I’m very happy to see these kinds of delegations coming from other parts on Kurdistan to meet with US government officials, meet with think thanks and educate them on other aspects of Kurdistan that they might not be familiar with. There’s a reasonable understanding in Washington regarding the issues of Iraqi Kurdistan and its complications. But I don’t think the policy community here is fully aware of Kurdish issues of Eastern, Northern and Western Kurdistan. So I believe these meetings are very important.

KR: Did you get any feedback from Washington policy-makers regarding those delegations and their meetings?

Qubad: Yes the feedback, official and nonofficial, that I’ve received was positive. The meetings were timely and people learned a lot from the delegations’ visit in Washington. For example, there is some much analysis on Syria. Very smart people in Washington and London are analyzing the situation as they read, but what makes all that even more unique is actually hearing from people from that region. Having the Kurdish delegation from Syria helped policy makers here to form a clearer vision on the issue. It was a good source of information for Washington.

KR: Rumors being spread in the Kurdish community that New-elect Kurdistan PM Nechirvan Barzani wants you in Kurdistan to hold the post of minister of oil and natural resources in KRG. Is that true?

Qubad: (Laughing)…. That is so far away from the truth. It’s true I’m leaving Washington after serving Kurdistan interests for 12 years in various posts as PUK representative, KRG – Sulaimaniyah Adminstration representative and finally the unified KRG representative. Now my time is running out here. I’m going back to Kurdistan to work for the Prime Minister in his office.

KR: When are you going back?

Qubad: This summer.

KR: Yes, but when precisely?

Qubad: This summer.

KR: Fine, who is going to take over your position?

Qubad: It’s not clear yet.

KR: Do you think KRG representative to UK, Bayan Sami Abdulrahman will succeed you?

Qubad: I have not heard anything formally about that. I think whoever takes over the job, will do it fantastically. Certainly Bayan Xan is more than capable of handling this job. In fact, she’s doing it already in England. I know she’s a great candidate and a great colleague of mine. I have a lot of respect for her. But for everybody’s sake, I think we should wait to see who the nominee is.

KR: During your period of service, how was your relationship with the Iraqi embassy in Washington?

Qubad: I’ve always had a good relationship with the Iraqi embassy. Obviously our work is different. There was some sensitivity in the past, mainly from embassy side. I can’t represent Basra here. I can’t represent Baghdad. My job here is to represent Kurdistan. In fact, we’d like to think that we’re filling a void on behalf of the embassy. So we live together, we work together but we don’t work for each other.

KR: But the embassy has complained about the expansion of your work here! Why is that?

Qubad: Up until recently, we only had six staffers, a couple of part-timers and contactors. We can’t compare our expansion and budget with the embassy. For instance, the embassy has a commercial attaché with a staff, a military attaché with its own staff and several other offices. So there really shouldn’t be any complaints.

KR: By the way, how many people work for your office now?

Qubad: Well so far, we have eight full time positions. We have a Director of Public Affairs, Director of Congressional and Academic Affairs, Director of Cultural and Community Affairs, Director of Political and Diplomatic Affairs, Director for Outreach . There also a couple of administrative positions. Moreover, we always have internships for Kurds and non-Kurds. So it’s quite a full team.

KR: What has Qubad Talabani done in the past 12 years representing the Kurds in the US?

Qubad: Well, it’s a good question. But it’s not for Qubad Talabani to say what I’ve done. With the help of my staff, we’ve been able to turn this office from a one-person office into an institution. I think that’s probably the accomplishment I’m most proud of. Twenty years ago, this office was run from somebody’s basement in Fairfax. Now it’s a true representation. We have this beautiful building that is owned by our government in a prominent location of the city. I would say it’s no less that an embassy in Washington. Of course, forming the American-Kurdish Congressional Caucus for the first time in the history of US Congress, for example, was a testimony of the good work this office’s been doing. Many other groups have been established here in order to promote Kurdish interests in the US.

KR: Many think that you played an imperative role in unifying the “divided” Kurdish community in America, in Washington area specifically. How could you get all these people together?

Qubad: I thank whoever says that. Indeed when I first came here, the community was really divided. Newroz parties were held separately. There was one for PUK, one for KDP, one for KDP-I. Even simple things like demonstrations were done separately. There was still a left over effect of the regrettable conflict in Kurdistan within the community here. But thankfully, that dynamic has changed and things are much better now. There’s one Newroz and everyone goes to it. Whether you’re Northern, Eastern, Southern or Westerner, it doesn’t matter. It was one of my goals when I first came here. I thought was crazy. Newroz is Newroz, it’s not PUK’s or KDP’s. It even went beyond that. Once we had meeting for several groups. Our eastern brothers got angry and left the meeting. And do you know what the challenge was? It was a problem with portraits of political leaders (laughing)… It was about whose picture to hang up at the event!! One party, I won’t mention names, wanted two pictures, one said just one picture is enough. Then things got so complicated… just over pictures. Of course, the experiment of having each person bring one picture became so embarrassing. So everyone eventually came to the understanding that its time to move on. Thankfully , the year after, which was 2005, we had the first new year without pictures. We just had the Kurdish flag.  The community has also been more active in getting involved in policy making in the US. For example, the community was very helpful when we passed a resolution to open the US Consulate in Erbil

KR: What advice would you give to the next KRG representative in Washington?

Qubad: Washington is a unique animal. It’s not like other capitals in the world. Anyone who comes here has to be aware of this. My advice would be for them to not become part of the political divisions here. They should work with all parties, think thanks and other institutions. Our job here is not to take sides.

The other thing that I would like the next representative to work on is our getting closer to the community here. The Kurdish community can strengthen our mission here. One aspect of my years here that I can be somewhat self critical at is my work with the community. While we did engage the youth with some success, I think I could’ve done better in terms of broader community outreach and better engaging the community in our efforts. We have some exceptionally talented and patriotic Kurds here in the US, and they can be a real asset to Kurdistan.

Kurdish Studies and language classes at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU)

A letter was released by MTSU yesterday announcing further development of the institution’s budding Kurdish Studies programme. Last August MTSU announced that it would begin teaching Kurdish. MTSU is only one of three universities in the US where Kurdish is taught. The other two are the University of Arizona and Portland State University. Here is the text of that letter:


At the direction of President McPhee, plans were developed to create a Middle East Center (MEC), which officially came into being in December 2006. From July 2006 through June 2009 MTSU had a Department of Education Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Languages grant to initiate language programs in Arabic and Hebrew, develop courses for a new Middle East Studies (MES) minor, support faculty members working in MES, and offer workshops for middle and high school teachers in the region that presented ways to incorporate the study of the Middle East in their curriculum.

With the foundations of the MES program well established, Dr. Allen Hibbard (director of the MEC) met with the MES faculty and students to discuss future goals. The Kurdish Students Association attended the meeting and members advocated for the development of a Kurdish Studies program citing the large Kurdish community in Middle Tennessee. Dr. Kari Neely, professor of Arabic, supported the motion agreeing that language programs need strong community support to be sustainable. Dr. Canak, the faculty advisor for the KSA, also supported the motion along with several other faculty members. As a member of the Foreign Language Department, Dr. Neely volunteered to take the initiative on the project.

Dr. Neely started modestly offering a special topics course for the Middle East Studies minor “Introduction to Kurdish History and Culture” in the Spring of 2009 which immediately filled. The success of the topics course allowed Dr. Neely to submit proposals for a two-year sequence in Kurdish language that were accepted by the Department of Foreign Languages and the University Curriculum committee. Seeking funding for a professor to teach these courses, Dr. Neely applied for and obtained an Access and Diversity grant from the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR).

MTSU hired Mr. Deniz Ekici, a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter, as a full time faculty member. Mr. Ekici is an accomplished author of Kurdish language instructional materials. He is the author of both Beginning Kurmanji Kurdish (an interactive DVD-ROM) and Kurmanji Kurdish Reader. Additionally, his background in Kurdish Studies has allowed him to collaborate with MTSU faculty members to co-teach general MES courses while incorporating Kurdish themes. In the 2011 year, Mr. Ekici will offer Intermediate Kurdish in addition to the Elementary Kurdish. In order to reach a larger audience, he is developing an online course to be offered in the Spring of 2012 through MTSU. Mr. Ekici teaches a standardized version of Kurmanji (Behdînî) rather than a particular regional version.

With these developments, MTSU is uniquely positioned to become a center for Kurdish Studies in the United States for a number of reasons. First, we are situated near to the largest Kurdish community that gives scholars the ability to have direct experience with a Kurdish community and practice their Kurdish language skills in context. Also, it allows international Kurdish students to easily adjust to life in the United States. Second, there are already two faculty members (Dr. Neely and Dr. Clare Bratten) who are interested in Kurdish issues and who incorporate Kurdish issues into the MES courses. Dr. Bratten teaches Media in the Middle East and Dr. Neely will be teaching Introduction to Middle East Studies and Peoples of the Middle East in addition to occasional offerings of Women in the Middle East. Thus, Kurdish themes are present in three of the primary courses in the MES minor.

The Kurdish Studies program at MTSU continues to grow through the support of the administration and MES faculty. MES faculty and KSA members are working with the university on new projects to help strengthen and enrich the program. Chief among the goals is to strengthen ties with international Kurdish institutions, especially within Kurdistan.

CrossTalk: Pax Kurdistana

How critical is Kurdistan to Iraq’s stability and prosperity? Should Kurdistan be granted sovereignty? Why is the US always willing to protect the region, even though its human rights record is very low? How would the US withdrawal affect the Kurds? And will they find common ground with Turkey? CT-ing with Sami Ramadani, Brendan O’Leary and Peshwaz Faizulla.

No Kurdish flag at GMU’s International Week celebrations

Meet by the Clock Tower from 1.30-4.00pm, Tuesday, 05 April

Demonstrations in Diyarbakır, Qamişlo, Slêmanî…and now…Fairfax, Virginia. Students at George Mason University’s Kurdistan Student Organisation (KSO) are organising a protest tomorrow to voice their displeasure at being denied the opportunity to display the Kurdish flag during GMU’s International Week celebrations. Students have created a FB page, Mason bans flags representing recognized student organizations, and another page about the protest, Protest at GMU against banning of Kurdish flag.

The protest will take place tomorrow, 05 April, at Freedom Square by the Clock Tower from 1.30-4.00pm. According to the FB pages, this event will be covered by major news outlets including ABC, FOX, NBC, as well as Voice of America (VOA).

Below is a statement sent to Kurdistan Commentary by the Kurdistan Student Organisation at GMU. If you’re in the area, grab a Kurdish flag and head to the Clock Tower to show your support!


Every year the Office of International Programs and Services (OIPS) makes an issue out of the displaying of certain flags during International Week, and we as students with active, dedicated and recognized student organizations are tired of meeting, begging, and fighting every single year to have our flags flown because an oppressive government on the other end of the globe would be offended by American freedom. We are Americans and we are good law abiding students and citizens that demand that GMU behave the way George Mason himself would have behaved.

We have been told by staff members themselves, point blank, that it IS about the money (The Chinese government has many international Chinese students on campus and has threatened to withdraw them and their funding if their demands for only nation-state flags to be displayed are not met. This is because of the HUGE problem they have with East Turkmenistan, a region in China whose inhabitants are viewed by the Chinese as being terrorists and separatists. In a meeting with Chinese students in 2008, one Chinese student spoke up and said, “They are all Muslims so we all know they’re terrorists!”

The evidence is clear: this was never an issue before the Chinese embassy, and by extension the Chinese government, made an issue out of it in 2008. Since then, it has been one battle after another with false promises being made to students–such as in 2009 when they were told that all flags not “randomly selected” to fly in the JC would fly in Mason Hall instead, only to find a completely bare Mason Hall when I-Week began. Random students all over campus were at one point asked by KSO members to sign a petition to see if students would support all groups being represented on campus and within two hours they had over 500 signatures (this was in 2009) But OIPS didn’t take those signatures into account at the various meetings that were held.

Recently, in an email released to the KSO, Judith Green, the director of the office of international programs and services (OIPS), stated that it was impossible to have all flags displayed, as that there is only room for 81 flags to be displayed in the JC atrium, but regardless, the flag of Kurdistan would not be displayed because on the I-20 form, no international students are listed as being from Kurdistan. The I-20 form, she states, is what will be used to determine which country flags are flown. The form is a supporting document that goes along with the awarding of a student visa for international students wanting to study in the US. So all non-international students would not be represented, according to her argument.

According to mason’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE): “George Mason University draws students from all over the world, but its student body is dominated by residents of northern Virginia.” A student body that, according to OIPS, would not have the luxury of being represented, regardless of whether or not they make up one of the most active student organizations on campus.

Since when are international students the only students recognized during International Week?! And what about 1st generation Americans who were born here but are proud to have both an American and an additional ethnic/national background? And what about the fact that the MAJORITY of participants in international week via their student organizations are active AMERICAN students with additional ethnic or national backgrounds and thus would not be included on the I-20 forms because they never had to fill one out? Or better yet, what about students who came to the US as REFUGEES and thus came to the US under a different set of pretenses and would have fill out a completely different form–like the majority of Kurds who fled here during the years of Saddam Hussein’s brutal Anfal campaign?

Moreover, while Kurdistan is not listed on the I-20, the Kurdistan Regional Government IS a legitimate government entity, recognized in the Iraqi Constitution as well as by all of her neighbors, members of the G-20, the EU, and NATO. Why then does GMU deny our existence? The sad thing is, even if Kurdistan was on the I-20 form, we still wouldn’t be represented because we are all either American citizens that were born and raised here or we came here seeking political asylum. Unfortuantely, not all of us have the luxury of coming here as international students. Many of us were actually fleeing for our lives and came to the States hoping for a better future–like many Americans have throughout our vibrant history.

Finally, while the official statement from OIPS is that their decision was based on three workshops that asked students to fill out surveys and questionnaires about their attitudes toward the issue, KSO members attended all three of those sessions and not a single student from any other student organization attended. In fact, during the last session the only other representative there was a representative of the Confucius Institute who was not a student.

At the last official meeting with OIPS, we were told that it was decided that countries that were recognized by the UN would be able to fly their flags. Then, in a separate email correspondence with Judith Green we were told that it had nothing to do with UN recognition but rather census information gathered from the I-20. At the last meeting that was held when an OIPS representative agreed to simply meet with us when we were told nothing could be changed because the guidelines had been made official, they’d admitted that the newly drafted guidelines were based on discussions that were had at the workshop—discussions that only the KSO as a student org attended along with a representative of the Confucius Institute–and yet the report came out in favor of the latter. We were also told at that meeting that there had indeed been fears that the Chinese embassy may in fact remove Chinese students from campus and that, of course, the presence of international Chinese students on campus was highly valued. So valued in fact, that they opened the opening ceremony in 2010 during I-week and had a “passport to China” event, complete with games, prizes, information booths, etc. focusing solely on China-something that, in our 6 years of I-week experience at mason–is a privilege that has not been afforded to any other international student org.

When we asked OIPS if there had EVER been ANY complaint against the display of the Kurdish flag in recent years by ANY student OR organization, the answer was “no”.

Notes on two recent conferences

Amir Sharifi, Hisyar Ozsoy, and Robert Reigle (Panel: Language, Music, and Identity)

The First North American Conference on the Kurdish Language took place on 05 November 2010 in Los Angeles. From the organisers’ final report (2MB, .pdf) and news from VOA, it seems the event was a success. More than 20 speakers from around the world, including the US, Canada, UK, France, and Turkey, convened at the UCLA James Collins Auditorium to give papers on a range of topics all related to the Kurdish language. Some experts in the field, including Amir Hassanpour and Michael Chyet presented via Skype. By rough estimates, says the KAES report, 180-200 people attended the conference throughout the day.

Michael Chyet (Library of Congress) gives a pre-recorded presentation

I’ve also seen interviews, both audio and transcribed, with some of the presenters on VOA website in Kurdish: Laura Shepherd, Hashem Ahmadzadeh, Jaffer Sheyholislami, and Christian Sinclair.

This was an important milestone for Kurdish Studies in the United States being the first-ever conference of its kinds in North America. Let’s hope there is a Second North American Conference on the Kurdish Language at some point in the future. The conference organisers and sponsors deserve many thanks for this successful event.

And then later in the month, from 18-21 November, was the 44th Middle East Studies Association (MESA) conference, also in California (San Diego). I cannot offer too many specifics related to the abundance of Kurdish papers presented at MESA. I saw almost all of them; some were good, some were great, some could have benefitted from more preparation time. What I can say is that many conference attendees spoke of how Kurdish Studies is now coming to the fore and the numerous papers at MESA are a manifestation of the growth in interest in Kurdish Studies. This is great news.

In the past, while there were papers at MESA on Kurdish issues, it was mostly Turkish academics who held a monopoly on the discourse of Kurdish Studies at MESA and other conferences. We are now seeing more and more Kurdish scholars presenting at MESA, and, for the most part, the research is outstanding. Amongst the presenters were also quite a few European scholars and a handful of US scholars.

As usual, most of the research was about Kurds in Turkey…13 papers by my count. Iraq, 4; Syria, 2; Iran, 1; Diaspora, 2. So that’s 60% focusing on Kurds in Turkey. The thematic content varied greatly amongst all the papers, but there’s still a lot on the discourses of nationalism. Papers on Kurdish nationalism in Turkey are getting old, fast!

There is so much else that needs to be researched: folklore, music, language, Kurds in Syria, Kurds in Iran, Kurdish-Kurdish relations across borders.

The only paper on Iran was given by Nader Entessar, entitled Entente Cordiale: Iran and the Kurdish Regional Government. While focusing on the KRG, Entessar gave an overview of economic relationships between Iran and the KRG.

The two papers on Syria provided very different contexts. Ahmet Akturk’s paper (‘Good but Ignorant’: Kurdish Self-View under French Mandatory Rule) looked at Kurdish nationalism through Hawar and other journals published in Syria under the French Mandate. Didn’t really focus so much on Syria as it did the promotion of Kurdish nationalist discourse. The other paper about Syria by Christian Sinclair looked at Kurdish rights under Bashar al-Asad from 2000-2010. The assumption was that Kurds are worse off now under Bashar al-Asad than under the father and the question was what has changed, regionally and otherwise, to affect the changes vis-à-vis the Kurds. The two other papers that were on the agenda about Syria were not presented as the presenters did not show up: Michael Gunter and Robert Lowe. Too bad, I would have enjoyed hearing Lowe speak.

I thought the best paper was the one presented by Nicole Watts (San Francisco State University). Her paper, ‘When Remembrance Isn’t Enough: State-Society Relations and Symbolic Politics in Halabja,’ offered keen insights into the 16 March 2006 demonstrations in Halabja in which protestors set fire to the memorial commemorating the victims of the 1988 chemical bombing attack on the city that killed an estimated 5,000 men, women, and children.

Watts argued that the episode reflected efforts by locals to gain control over the considerable symbolic and material resources Halabja accrued due to its status as a martyred Kurdish city, and, thus, to renegotiate the relationship between citizens and the KRG. She spent quite a bit of time in Halabja doing interviews and reading government documents for her research. A memorable presentation on a sensitive topic.

Several panels evoked lively, healthy debate afterwards with many questions and criticisms. Many of the Kurdish presenters were quick to question some of the Turkish presenters’ interpretations of Kurdish events and history. After one panel late Saturday afternoon, one member of the audience was trying to clarify a point with a presenter regarding the ruling AK Party in Turkey and nationalism on the one hand, and a resolution to the demands by Kurds for equal rights on the other hand. The presenter, Dr. Umut Uzer from the University of Utah, declared: ‘I don’t believe there is a solution to the Kurdish problem.’ There were audible gasps from the audience…and a few outbursts of laughter.

Other papers that are worth mentioning for their merit are: Azat Gundoğan, Binghamton U (SUNY)—From Fellow Townsmenship to Leftist Activism: Kurdish ’68ers, Turkish Labor Party and Eastern Demonstrations; Shayee Khanaka, UC Berkeley—Kurdish Women under Ba’athist Rule; Mustafa Kemal Mirzeler, Western Michigan U—Cemo (paper read by Diane King); Omer Ozcan, U of Texas at Austin—Prison and Fortress: Home in the Kurdish Experience of War; and Susan Benson-Sokmen, U of Toronto—Beyond the Nation: Celebrating the Kurdish “Counter-Diaspora” in the Streets of Toronto.

If you were at either of these two conferences, please leave comments below. Would love to hear your impressions!