Building bridges across the pond: Syrian students go stateside
Syrians living across the globe have joined forces to provide the help and guidance to the youth of Syria by launching a non-profit organization with the goal of connecting “the intelligence of the east with the knowledge and education system of the west. “
“Jusoor,” meaning “bridges” in Arabic, is an organization recently established by Syrians from different parts of the world to help Syrian high school graduates to continue their education in the U.S. by showing them the process of applying to universities abroad.
“Because the education system is different in Syria, we are trying to facilitate the process of applying and remove those barriers that usually put off students from applying because a lot of these students are overwhelmed and feel lost for the most part,” said one of Jusoor’s co-founders Dania Ismail.
Ismail stressed the importance of connecting the Syrian expatriate community in the U.S. with youth inside Syria to help them establish a solid understanding of what the American education system is like and what is needed to proceed on with their education in the west.
“There are more than 20 million Syrians residing outside their country…the hope is to leverage the power of the Syrian expatriate community to help the youth in Syria somehow in a way that is impactful and long-term that will help develop their country once they return,” said Ismail.
Mentors from the Syrian expatriate community were recruited to direct the students’ footsteps as needed to reach universities that align with their field of study.
Those interested by Jusoor’s opportunities have been able to reach their targeted field of study in the U.S. and are currently appreciative of the organization’s efforts.
Bashar Alisber, a Jusoor applicant, is continuing with his education in the U.S. as an Aerospace Engineer.
“They (Jusoor) know we should build the new Syria through educating people, so they gave an opportunity to learn in the first country in the world in the field I am interested in, which is aerospace engineering,” said Alisber who is originally from Homs.
Although Jusoor has no political affiliation to any Syrian party, the political unrest in the country expedited the process of establishing Jusoor.
“We didn’t decide on doing this because of what’s going on politically, this is a plan we had for a while, but the escalating political unrest forced us to speed [the process]… we had set up the plan of Jusoor before anything happened [the uprising], but with the way things were going last year and things getting worse by the day, it helped us accelerate the need to set it up,” said Ismail.
Although Alisber made it outside the country, he is still faced with the heartaches of watching his hometown being struck on daily basis.
“Focusing on my studying is the hardest part, I'm always worried because my family is still in Homs … but I'm trying my best, in order to be able to participate in building the new Syria once the war is over,” he said.
Nour Daoud, electrical engineering major, also joined Jusoor two months ago and said she feels guilty to be away from her family and friends in Hama as she watches the violence escalating everywhere in the country.
“Jusoor members have been very supportive. They even invite us to Arabic-style meals to that we don’t feel homesick,” she said.
By Katherine Jane O'Neill
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