06242017Headline:

Syrian student, with family and friends living in ‘warzone,’ feels conflict

After last visiting her home in Damascus, Syria in 2012, Katty Alhayek, an Ohio University second year graduate student, said she found it difficult to stay in contact with her friends and family.

“I feel depressed, because the Syria I knew is not there anymore,” said Alhayek, who is studying women and gender studies.

“With my family, now I can communicate every once in a while via Skype and Internet but my friends and some part of my family live in conflict or warzones, it’s so hard to communicate,” Alhayek said. “So many of my friends fled Syria, some are still inside, some are in prison … I lost friends in the conflict.”

Major protests began in 2011 to oust President Bashar al-Assad and his regime.

As of July, more than 100,000 people had been killed and millions more had escaped while seeking safety and refuge from the mounting military action within the country, according to the United Nations.

Many Syrians are displaced and traveling to neighboring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan.

“My friends provide some help, food and any necessities to offer to the refugees,” said Adiy Tweissi, a second year OU doctoral student studying instructional technology. “I hear from them (that) they hear a lot of bombings over near the Syrian side.”

Tweissi visits Jordan twice every year and said traveling back home grew difficult.

In 2012, Tweissi visited his friends in Jordan, one of whom hosted a Syrian family of refugees in his home.

“They seemed so happy to be in Jordan … they escaped from being killed from the opposition and the army of the regime,” Tweissi said. “With war, the people are the ones paying the price.”

OU offers services to its international students whose home countries face conflict. At OU, there were two enrolled students from Syria for the 2012-13 school year, according to the university’s Institutional Research website.

“The (International Student and Faculty Services) is always willing to support these students if they need someone to talk to and have other resources for them,” said Krista McCallum Beatty, director of International Student and Faculty Services.

Despite initially expressing thoughts of not returning to Syria, Alhayek said she hopes to take what she learns at OU and bring it back to her homeland.

“I think now my part is to do research (to) make the Syrian people’s voice heard,” Alhayek said. “(What) I can do as an individual for the long term is to bring back my knowledge to my country and help rebuild Syria.”

hy135010@ohiou.edu @HannahMYang

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