Stories from Kurdistan

American Teacher Honored by Yezidi Students After Death


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region–An American English teacher who was teaching English to Yezidi Kurds voluntarily died of a stroke on July 2 and was buried in Kurdistan, as he requested.

67-year old Leland Standford Scott, known as Mr. Lee to his students, came to the Kurdistan Region four months ago as a volunteer teacher, teaching English and volunteering in the clinic at Bajid Kandall 2 refugee camp, in the Kurdistan Region’s province of Duhok, where many Yezidi refugees are staying.

Teachers asked to be buried in Yezidi Shrine before death

“On July 2, he died of a stroke in a hospital in Duhok,” Rudaw’s correspondent Nasir Ali reported. During a brief period of consciousness after the stroke, he contacted his family by email and made arrangements to be buried in the Yezidi Sharafadin Shrine near Mount Shingal.

Scott has five sons and two daughters, all of whom live in America. The US embassy in Baghdad permitted his burial in the Kurdistan Region.

At his funeral, many people, including his students, came to pay their respects, carrying signs expressing gratitude to their deceased teacher.

“I am very proud, because Mr. Lee helped me to learn English,” said students thanking their teacher.

Honored friend, teacher, father figure for Yezidis

“Mr. Lee was a great teacher, great friend and great father for us,” read one student’s sign.

According to his students, Scott had intended to stay in Kurdistan for just a short time, but he became captivated by the Yezidis changed his mind, deciding to stay longer and hoping to do more to help the refugee population.

“I have been with him since the day he arrived until he was dead,” one of his students told Rudaw. “He was about to stay here for a week, but then he changed his mind. He was living with us in cabins for four months.

The students added that Scott had 150 students, teaching them for 6 hours every day.

“He contacted us in February and said that he had heard about our organization and he wanted to come and work with us voluntarily,” a member of the Joint Help for Kurdistan Organization told Rudaw.

She added that after arriving in Kurdistan, Scott taught English to refugees and helped to provide medical treatment for four months.

At the end of his journey, covered with Kurdish and US flags, Scott is now buried in his beloved adopted land, Kurdistan.

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