Syria is suffering through one of the painful and hardest crises in its modern history — the individual and collective loss almost unfathomable. As we approach 2014, the New Year, we have witnessed the death toll exceed 120,000 – children, women and men whose dreams and visions ended too soon.
We have lost neighborhoods, communities, clinics, elementary schools and university buildings. And the daily life of our cities dramatically altered. Everything that we have worked on for all of our life has been affected by the armed conflict.
What is happening in Syria is very big – complicated too much intervention on the part of some and not nearly enough engagement by others. At times, the weight of the conflict is overwhelming, and we are led to believe that we as individuals can do little to participate in the peaceful resolution to this crisis or to contribute to the positive change required. And then, we watch a teacher assemble students in makeshift classroom breathe learning into the minds of her students, or a doctor care for the injured and we are reminded of the resilience that has made the Syrian people heroic for centuries. And we know, that we can change the future of Syria – by changing the “newness of our lives,” and in so doing we prepare our country for an even better future comes and this conflict is over.
A great many initiatives have been launched to support the higher education in Syria including Illinois Institute of Technology’s initiative that has welcomed, since Fall 2012, thirty-five Syrian students to the United States and provided them the opportunity to continue their education here at Illinois Tech.
As part of our ongoing efforts to develop initiatives to support and advance learning within the higher education sector in Syria, we, the Syrian students at IIT, are proud to announce a university student led initiative partnering with Mendeley, to help the Syrian undergraduate and graduate students inside Syria to organize, share, protect and advance the vast set of valuable ideas, projects, designs and scientific and engineering research.
In launching the “beta” version of the Syrian Research Exchange, we intend to create a networked community to help university students attain what is most important to them in their life and in the work. In doing so, we seek to help foster the development of stronger academic departments, the incubation of new research centers, idea labs, and “maker spaces” throughout the country in order for all of Syria to once again achieve our greatest potential as individuals and as a nation.
More details will be announced in subsequent posts but for now, you should know that Mendeley is a free reference manger and social network that helps the researchers to organize their researches, and share them with others online, and even helping them to work on new researches.
As we build our Syrian Research Exchange, we will create an advisory board from amongst the Syrian students, faculty members at IIT, and other collaborators from across the globe and throughout the Mendeley network to assist the young university researchers inside Syria to the most possible benefit from the ideas and from the Mendeley community. We have even discussed identifying resources and sponsors, perhaps a few venture investors to provide seed funding to further these ideas.
This is just the beginning. We have much to learn from the Mendeley community and from each other. Together we can change the future of Syria – today.
For more information, please contact us at: Ricsyria@gmail.com
On behalf of the IIT Syrian student community, we invite you to join us.
Suhaib | Zeina | Safouh | Nour