Last weekend could not have gotten any better. I got to attend the Jusoor Annual Conference and listen to successful speakers talk about their projects and ideas to benefit Syria and help us bring the smile back to our country. The sadness and heart break were apparent in people’s faces and voices as they talked about the current situation and obstacles, but the energy and excitement of new ideas being put on the table were even more visible and more importantly, contagious. We do have a complicated crisis with hundreds of thousands of children that are out of school because of it, but as Iyad Duwaji from Jusoor said, we can take this challenge, one step at a time. Speaker Fadi Ghandour talked about moving from feel-good charity to activist charity where we get genuinely involved in our community. Everyone was at the conference because they loved Syria and wanted to help out in every way they could. Speakers showed us their inspiring work including volunteering at the refugee education program in Lebanon, teaching children how to code, supporting children’s psycho-social health, raising awareness about the situation in Syria to promote action, and planning fundraisers to support the education and basic needs of Syrians affected by the war. The conference was followed by an art auction that raised $300K to support the education of Syrian Children.
Syrian IIT Students’ and alumni success was celebrated at the conference. Being an IIT Alumni, I was very happy and honored to be a part of the Syrian cohort at IIT that has proved to be successful. At the same time, I was feeling humbled by all the high achievers in the room. I had a nagging feeling to give back and be a part of this wonderful energy rather than being a product of it. Two opportunities at giving back presented themselves to me lately: The first one is the Jusoor Alumni Association organization that my friends and I are starting. Our goal is to support the education of one Syrian student in the near future. The second opportunity is to run The Hamptons Marathon in September and raise funds to the refugee education program in Lebanon in the process. I was able to add Jusoor’s name to the Hamptons Marathon charities to support the education of Syrian children. This means that anyone reading this post can head to this link and learn about Team Jusoor to either join it or donate money to those of us running the marathon in September.
As the weekend came to an end, there was no better way to end it than to hear that Gerald Doyle has won the Sheldon H. Nahmod Civil Rights Award for Vision to honor his work to make the IIT Syrian Student Initiative happen. A lot of people have an inspiring vision, but Jerry turned his vision into reality and changed my life and the lives of many others. None of this would have become reality if Jerry had not believed in us and done everything he could to facilitate the Syrian Initiative at IIT. The Syrian initiative was based on a previous initiative launched with the National Society of Black Engineers, RISE, Inc and university students from Sir Arthur Community College in St. Lucia where Illinois Institute of Technology provided scholarships to St. Lucian students. As he and his colleagues across the university continue to work hard to provide more scholarships to deserving students all across the globe, and as they comes up with more creative fund raising ideas, I am so excited to see that he is being awarded for his vision that all of us appreciate so tremendously. Thank you Jerry! Thank you for being such a wonderful humanitarian. I never left a meeting with you without feeling inspired to make a difference and wishing there were more people like you. Congratulations on winning the award and thank you again for all the wonderful work that you do.
Cheers to an exciting weekend full of hope and inspiration. Cheers to Jusoor, cheers to Jerry, and cheers to my alma mater –Illinois Tech – for their unwavering support of young people who “have a Dream!”
Nour Daoud, ‘14
Illinois Institute of Technology
Armour College of Engineering
Alumni of the Jusoor IIT Initiative