“The daily lives of Syrians have changed dramatically since March 2011…The conflict has become protracted with the principal armed actors entrenched and a political and military stalemate consolidating. In the context of this current stalemate, the humanitarian crisis wrought by the conflict is worsening: more than half the total population killed, maimed, or displaced within only four years. The human tragedy of the Syrian conflict has no current end in sight….” –Samer Abboud, Syria (Hot Spots in Global Politics)
The University of Evansville, from 2012 to 2018 and compared to other small schools, supported a disproportionately large number of hardworking Syrian students. We are proud to have been included in a consortium of 57 colleges and universities dedicated to providing support in the form of scholarships and other aid. Our Syrian scholars enriched our campus and community tremendously, but our concern grew for their country's future and the welfare of their families back home. Scholars for Syria was created as the brainchild of impassioned Syrian students and American friends to support these students and, in an era of fear and unrest, to help our community understand Syria’s rich culture, humanize the staggering numbers of dead and displaced, refute the sweeping generalizations, and explain the complexities surrounding Syria’s current crisis.
Our nonprofit, started in the summer of 2016, is a collective and continuing effort almost three years on, a partnership and opportunity for students, faculty, and community members from all nations, regardless of identity, to learn and share information about Syria and work toward its future. What began as a group of concerned individuals, heartbroken by the Syrian holocaust and desperate to do something to alleviate the horrific suffering, has blossomed into a grassroots organization committed to providing an active and robust movement to support our students, engage in projects that pool resources, create ideas, and implement goals that can have a concrete, positive effects on the lives of Syrians everywhere. We hope to change the disastrous results of this prolonged conflict in whatever small ways we can, and we strive to weave a chain of connection that can result in a bridge built with the raw material of humanity, compassion, and love.
Gail Vignola, Kendra Mehling, Walid Hasanato, Kristen Fowler, Megan King, Lydia Crain, Hannah Richardson, and Sam Schanwald