Kalona Fall Festival


One of the great benefits of us coming to United States other than having a great education and working in this beautiful country is to make great friends.

Last week we were invited by our amazing friends Cal and Shirley to attend the Kalona Fall festival in Iowa and to spend the weekend at their lovely house.

Kalona is a small town in Iowa that is a lot different from Chicago. Houses over there are far from each other and the nature is just stunning. The main thing you notice about Kalona is the people and how nice they are, I can easily say the people in Kalona are the nicest people I have ever my so far. We’ve been there only 2-3 times before, but we already know so many nice people there.

My favorite thing in Kalona (other than Shirley’s great food) is the morning walk with Cal, which takes place early in the morning, and right after that Shirley will be waiting for us to have breakfast. Every time we go there they usually have planned schedule for us where we can see some new places.

I will share below few pictures from our trip (Alaa, Katie, George, and I) to Kalona last week.









Suhaib Ibrahim

Project Engineer, TERRA Engineering

A New Semester with Syrian Club at IIT


Hey everyone,
I am writing on behalf of the new Syrian Club board members to introduce ourselves, our mission and tell you about our events and goals for this upcoming semester.
The Syrian club is a non-political, non-religious organization at IIT, aimed to present the Syrian cultures to the IIT diverse community through free events throughout the semester on and off campus. As Syrian students, we try to show our true cultural identity through this organization, away from the sad stories of war that can be seen in the news. Our club has a rich mixture of students from various Syrian ethnicities, cultures and religions.
In previous semesters, we have held events like our Cultural Day, the Taste of IIT, vigils in remembering the martyrs in Syria. We have also performed at the International fest, and organized a Bowling tournament, a pool party among many other events on campus gathering hundreds of students from all nationalities and backgrounds.
This semester, we will be holding the following events:
Syrian Cultural Day : Oct 5th (12-2p.m) in MTCC
-Spot the Syria: Oct 26th (12-2 p.m) in MTCC
Taste of IIT
and will be representing the IIT community at the Harvard Arab Weekend in early Nov.
Keep an eye for our upcoming emails and posters around campus and make sure you come out for our events as they are FREE and have plenty of delicious food that might be hard to find around campus.
Thank you for signing up for our mailing list and remember to check the new board of our club below this message.
Warm regards,
Majed Abdulsamad
Mailing list sign up: http://goo.gl/forms/XggdLLtRnF


Majed Abdulsamad
5th Year architecture student.It takes less than a day around me to recognize my passion for soccer, political and social movements, skyscrapers and everything that you could possibly relate to architecture, or food. But mainly architecture.

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Lama Almansour
Junior in Information Technology and Management with a minor in Business administration.
I’ve always heard many times that there are a low percentage of girls in Technology field. Therefore I’m interested in knowing the reason and being part of the solution.

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Mazen Horani
Vice President
Senior in Information Technology and Management
My favorite sport is soccer. I played for many years and I currently play in the school team. I hope one day I can use everything I learned and will learn to benefit my country Syria and rebuild it

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Toufik Simo
Publicity Manager
Senior Business Student
Coffee, chocolate and a thoughtful talk, a combination that never puts me down on any day. I am Syrian-Kurdish, which is the largest ethnic minority in Syria. Finally, my name means “Good luck!” in Arabic. So, Toufik to you in school!”

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Farah Abdulsamad
Events Coordinator
Junior in Information Technology and Management with a minor in Architecture
I come from the city of Homs in Syria, where my parents still live today. This is the second year I join the board of the Syrian Club and I am looking forward to our best semester yet on campus.

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Mouhannad Safadi
Junior Biology major
I love to play beach volley ball and go hiking, I am a little excited about wild life, just a little bit. Don’t be fooled by my picture.

Supporting Syria from the streets and the people of Chicago


“We all have heard and seen in people in Syria. The refugee crisis has taken way too many lives. While feeling bad about the situation and discussing about it what most of us can do, there are a few other things we can do to provide help.

A little that we could do was go out on the streets of Chicago during Labor Day weekend and share the word about a petition to the US Government to increase the number of Syrian Refugees allowed in this country.
This petition needs 100,000 signatures for the government to take an action. If you all take just 30 seconds to sign this petition and ANYONE in the world can sign it, you don’t have to Syrian or American.
Yesterday we took this petition to the streets of Chicago and people were incredibly supportive.”
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Please share it with your family and friends too. It could be possible help that you provide for people in Syria.
Also, if you want to read up on other organizations that you could assist in providing help, here is a link:http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-09-03/5-groups-doing-important-work-help-refugees-you-may-not-have-heard
Srishti Mehra
Illinois Institute of Technology
Editors note:

“This is how the world changes. When we live and study with one another – whether we are from Chicago or from far away countries, what begins to happen is that we are changed; our world “becomes more personal and ‘others’ become like family” as it were.

The issues that too often separate us become unified for us because this is no longer about another neighborhood, city or country but the home and families of my and our friends.

We are grateful for the way the Illinois Tech community, our new friends across Chicago and those we have yet to meet have come together in support of children, women and men of Syria.”


Designed in California for the Universe.

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This summer I had the privilege of working as a Software Engineering Intern for one of the most prominent technology companies in the world.

And since we are talking about prominent technology company, we definitely mean California, precisely the Silicon Valley. The beautiful the weather is in California, the nature, trees, landscape reminded me of the nature in Syria. These are few snapchat stories of me posting poems by Syrian poets describing the nature.(Yeah I still remember poems from middle school).


But aside from that, I got the amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented, intelligent, and fabulous engineers on the planet. People who had a great understanding of Software Engineering, and work in this field with incessant passion, and dedication.

I was lucky to work in a place where a very substantial part of the software is written by us [the company], I saw how software gets developed starting from the kernel of the operating system, to the simplest animation on the display that takes milliseconds and your eyes barely notice.

What made me more happy than actually meeting those people, and working with them is actually contributing to the code, Yes! the production code, the code that is basically running on millions of devices right now. It made me really happy, that I’m actually contributing to the world, that I’m paying some of the technological debt back for using all these technologies for all these years, the same technologies that saved my life. (if I didn’t read the post on Facebook from Safari browser about the scholarship that night, I would have been still in Syria… probably).
At the end, I’m thankful for all those intelligent people in California who sometimes don’t get enough sleep at night to provide amazing technologies for people around the universe, so we can do more!

Jamal Kharrat

Global Impact: From Health Care IT to Helping Every Hungry Child


This summer I had the opportunity to join Allscripts Healthcare Company where I served as Quality Assurance Intern for the last 12 weeks.

My journey with Allscripts was incredible – and inspiring. Beginning from my first week, I was introduced to the wide range of their Medical Devices and the technical solutions that Allscripts offers to clients.   In addition, I was able to learn and observe first had the rapid transformation of the Healthcare system through the intervention of innovative technologies at the level of both software and hardware.

Community engagement and corporate responsibility represent a core value for the Allscripts Healthcare Company.  I’m very fortunate and happy that I was able to give back to the community with my colleagues at Allscripts by attending the Global Impact Day Event, where all the employees gathered at the Chicago office and with the help of Stop Hunger Organization, we were able to pack about 10,000 meals that were all sent to children in need to help reduce the amount of hunger globally.

My colleagues have taught me several important lessons that I will carry forward with me.  First, I have learned that IT and the Health Care field are undergoing a rapid transition; certainly, Syria will depend upon these innovations within the country and among those living in refugee campus that are home to too many Syrians.  Secondly, I will take with me the role of leadership to participate directly in partnership and collaboration to deliver humanitarian aid demonstrated on this day in Chicago.

I hope that some of this good work reaches my beloved country Syria and helps every hungry child.

Farah Abdel Samad

School of Applied Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology

Studios as Life: attitude makes the most difficult moments in life worth living for


Today my last architecture Studio in academia is done officially. A hard decision I have made in my life in 2012, moving from California to the unknown Chicago. It feels like yesterday when I arrived to IIT, and I was told, “You will start from 2nd year!” Whether it has been fair or not; It has been a rough journey for 3 years. It is not every student’s struggle. “Archi’s” struggle is quite unique. Suffering from Sleepless nights, lack of food and nutrition, absence of social life, and losing the sense of time while working on projects and many more challenges that “Archi” students go through.

After almost 9 years of studying design, architecture has taught me a lot of lessons:

I learned to keep going towards my goal even if people left you alone in the middle of the road.

I learned to believe in myself when no one else did and people tell me “If you are not good in architecture, just leave!”

I learned that passion could ease the pain, and it’s in the heart not in the brain.

I learned that “you can’t climb the ladder with your hands in your pockets”

I learned patience after redoing a work of multiple days.

I learned that professors are not always right even if they tell me, “You don’t need to sleep tonight.”

I learned to appreciate sleep, and learned that a dark roast coffee cup is my wine.

I learned that people who get A’s work for the people who get C’s.

I learned the more I know the more I need to know.

I learned that making people happy is a noble decision.

I learned that being perfect is impossible. It’s a goal that could be sought, but it’s unachievable.

I learned that studio friends are a treasure, and I will find no one like them ever.

I learned some of them become family.

I learned that the richest man isn’t who got the money, but the one who got a family!

Today isn’t the end,but a beginning of a new journey. I would like to THANK all my family members, friends, and beloved ones, for the unconditional support, and for standing beside me through those tough times. It has been real. #ArchiStudioClassOf2015

Mohammad Hatahet

730 days: both a lifetime and a blink of an eye

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Summer 2013. The war in Syria continued but events were unfolding that would change the trajectory of my life forever because a small group of people at Illinois Institute of Technology, EducationUSA, the Institute of International Education, and Jusoor were working to support university students like myself whose higher education was halted by conflict.

The life changing opportunity was given to me by Illinois Institute of Technology offering me a scholarship to finish my education in United States.

After leaving from Syria to Egypt in 2012, my university and professional future seemed bleak. I was in my 4th year in Damascus University when I left Damascus, and due to the political circumstances in Egypt, advanced undergraduate students from Syria were ineligible to be accepted as a transfer student. The only option available to me was to begin my undergraduate studies in engineering from the first year.

For me, this struggle and disappointment would end months later. The course of my future – and for my family – was altered when I received the best email in my life (so far). An email from Illinois Institute of Technology congratulating me on being accepted in their program to support the higher education in Syria, and offering me the chance to continue my education in Chicago.

The support that I received upon my arrival to the university was amazing. The Illinois Tech faculty and staff provided assistance nearly every day from the evaluation of my credentials, and advising to the numerous professional student organizations as well as those providing events and activities for student life and enrichment. I traveled to the home of an IIT alumnus for Thanksgiving (which would eventually lead to a network and my first job upon graduation). I met new friends from Syria, new friends from Chicago, and new friends from the more than 90 countries who attend my alma mater of Illinois Tech.

For me, the Office of Student Access, Success, & Diversity Initiatives at Illinois Tech represented a personal anchor for me and so many of my peers; the staff was there for us almost every day during our time at Illinois Tech (and even till now more than seven months after graduation). I remember going there for almost all the problems I faced and I got the support and advice every time I went.

The incredible life transformation I had during the past two years is just amazing. I was in a place where I left my country at my 4th year with no plans. And two years later I am working as a consultant for Illinois Department of Transportation.

Studying and working in United States for two years has been so far the best experience I had in my life; these days have taught me a great deal which I will carry forward. And along the way, I’ve learned several important lessons: • Always dream big. • Work hard, and expect the unexpected and open to possibilities. • Never forget the past or current circumstances of home. • Start from where you are and initiate specific actions for change. • Remember that we are all peacemakers. • We shall return, and rebuild our cities and Syria.


Suhaib Ibrahim

Project Engineer, TERRA Engineering

**The photo is for Civil Engineering school at Damascus University