Tears of pride in LA,

Last week I was in Los Angeles for Jusoor’s third annual conference, where  the birth of Jusoor Alumni Association was announced by one of the first Jusoor students in the US.
This announcement brought tears to people’s eyes and I will try to elaborate on this in few sentences to show how significant and meaningful those tears are.
two years ago, 14 Syrian Students, were able to come to this great country to continue their education due to the generous donations of Syrians, Arabs and Americans whom they have never met and of course the incredibly generous scholarships offered by the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Today, a little more than two years later, this group of 14 students, which later became a group of 39, have started their own scholarship program to give back to their communities and continue the cycle of good and expand it further. This scholarship will be single handedly funding one new Syrian student every year from now on, to continue their education in the U.S.
Back to Jusoor’s 3rd annual conference in UCLA, the tears in people’s eyes were the most touching thing I have came across in weeks. The donations given two years ago by those same people have been sustained and are now the spark that will start a, hopefully never ending, cycle of giving back and supporting education and therefore a brighter future for our country.
Knowing it or not, those donors have contributed, slightly but willingly, to build a better Syria. And to those, and to everyone who have believed in education for a better future, I thank you and promise, on behalf of all Syrian students, to bring tears of pride more often to you eyes. So bare with us.

Majed Abdulsamad
B.S Architecture candidate 16′
Illinois Institute of Technology


Jusoor, Hope and Gerald Doyle!


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

Sources of Inspiration: Awakening the Courage Within

Awake the Giant Within is one of those books that encourages you and provides the strength to take immediate actions in the world, to make a difference, and to reorganize (and recognize) your priorities.

Tony Robbins is a well-known life coach and self help author. He was able to reach a wide range of readers from different backgrounds, ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds – across all ages. His foundation, Anthony Robbins, was able to make a different in millions of lives around the globe through youth leadership programming and hunger relief programs.

For me, I have found strength in the writings of Tony Robbins, and his talks – many of which appear as TED talks.

So if you feel like you don’t know yourself any more, if you are questioning your ability to reach a goal, if you wondering whether or not you can fulfill your dream, or in my case if you are about to start your career. Then I think this book could place you on the success path and you can go from there.

As I think about the future of my country, my colleagues, and myself, I now see the necessity of specific interventions that enable us to gain courage, to remove any sense of complacency or fear in order to move forward.

We have a long walk forward; let’s run together.


Professor Peter Land: A Living Legend

My studio professor during the 2014-15 academic year at IIT is Professor Peter Land. For those who might wonder who is Peter Land, he is – without a doubt – one of the most famous and brightest architects of our time.


With a master degree in Urban Planning from Yale University, 1958, and a masters of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University, 1957 along side a diploma in Civic Design from the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1956 and a diploma in Architectural Association from the School of Architecture. London,1955. Professor Peter Land is a living legend.

He was previously a professor at Harvard, head of architects for the UN in South America and has been a professor of architecture at Chicago’s best architecture school, IIT, for 39 years.

All of the previous introduction should give you a very good idea of important and touching it was for me to hear from my professor that he has been to my hometown, Homs, in Syria even before I was born. And that he is very fond and holds in the highest regard my country and the Syrian people.

I was more touched when answering his questions about the situation in Syria and seeing tears come to his eyes from what he heard from me.


It will be a long time before I will forget the look on his face and his smile as he told his stories from when he visited Syria.

At the end of our short conversation, Professor Land wished me not to lose hope and to be optimistic and keep up the good work because we, and our generation, my generation, are the hope that he sees in the future.

I was touched and honored.

Majed Abdulsamad

College of Architecture

Illinois Institute of Technology

Chicago, Illinois

Born: Homs, Syria

The Language of Silence

Last week I had the chance to read a very interesting book that discusses the power of introverted people and their chances to be a successful leaders in their societies.

Susan Cain’s, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” shares her own difficulties as a Wall Street lawyer with regard to public speaking. As an individual with a self-described “introverted personality,’ Cain concludes that this bias against introversion leads to “a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness, saying that it is ’the next great diversity’ issue of our time.”

In a follow-up Ted Talk on the same theme, Susan provides her audience – and us – the narratives and individual stories of other introverted people such as Bill Gates, Mahatma Gandhi, Steve Wozniak and so many other distinctive individual and their subsequent imprint in the history.

As a future engineer, my peers – architects, scientists, designers, artists and entrepreneurs – and I live in a world in which we build great (often big – and sometimes very small) things to improve our world.

And yet, at the most basic level, we must build strong families, neighborhoods, communities and countries that work together – peacefully and thoughtfully – even when we differ so greatly in our viewpoints and perspectives.

It seems to me that we must use our words and our silence to build a better human network and community.

And so, as a student more naturally drawn to mathematics, the sciences, and engineering, I now frequently find myself drawn to works about psychology, philosophy and literature; books that have caught my attention because they help me (and us) to understand the most complex machine, the human being.


Safouh Takrouri

B.S in ​Electrical and Computer Engineering
Armour College of Engineering

Tipping the balance

Last November, I attended the Harvard for the Arab Weekend 2014 — an event that gathers Harvard Alums with invited students and public figures from the MENA region to discuss the present and the future of the region.

One of the most inspiring talks was given by Rania Succar, co-founder of JUSOOR, about the Syrian refugee education initiative as an example for finding inspiring solutions to current disasters in the region.

The facts about Syrian refugees are depressing, and beyond description. If the Syrian refugee population represented a single country, that country would have the lowest school enrolment rate in the world. Today, less than 25% of Syrian refugee children have the opportunity to go to school.

For nearly all leaders and diplomats, Syria is considered the worse humanitarian crisis in our lifetime; everything about this cause brings the notion of despair, hopelessness and giving up.

But the Jusoor leadership board had a different idea. They proposed and believed that the only thing worse than the current crisis would be for young professionals to not doing something about it.  Rather, young children and young adults needed to see that young and established professionals would serve as role models to demonstrate leadership and to show what could and should be done amidst this humanitarian crisis. Rania and Jusoor chose action.

Jusoor, the Syrian NGO working on refugee education in Lebanon, accepted the challenge and have accomplished some achievements that will contribute to a better future of the country.

The key to doing that was empowering and inspiring the youth to get involved and to make a personal difference in the region. With volunteers from all around the world and almost no money spent, a thousand children have a chance of a better future now. And many thousands are still to get this opportunity to get their lives back.

This is not about Syrian refugee education; this is about determination and making a change. This is about young people not giving up on the future of Syria nor our world.

Majed Abdulsamad
Illinois Tech, Collage of Architecture
B.S Architecture 2016

Graduated, again!

In May 2012, Two and a half years ago, I finished final exams of my senior year in Aleppo University.

I was happy i finished my education and graduated before things in Syria got worse! but it turned out that I did not!!!

Exam results came out saying that I need one more point in one of the classes in order to graduate!!
summer semester got canceled, because war started to get closer and closer .. and I had to leave the country .. and that side of the world ..

Here I am more than two years after, finishing my last exam in Illinois Institute of Technology, where I transferred to.

It took me 8.5 years to finish undergrad, but what matters is that i finally did it..
after all, I believe that missing point, which I cried a lot about, was a gift from God to lose..

Amer Rez

Bachelor in Computer Engineering

Armour College of Engineering.


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