Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Iraqi University In Syria

During the last four years, the Iraqi retarded groups continued to kill each other, kill the innocent Iraqi people and drive Iraqi professionals out of Iraq. I couldn't ask for a better retaliation by the Iraqi higher education community than what I heard on NPR's All Things Considered:

Iraq's universities remain a target for insurgents and militias. Iraqi media reports say more than 1000 professors have been murdered. Many more have left the country, which threatens the future of education in Iraq. But Iraq's loss has been neighboring Syria's gain. A group of Iraqi professors who fled there pooled their savings and opened a new private university outside of Damascus. They're recruiting some of the best professors from Iraq.

NPR's Deborah Amos reports from Damascus.

DEBORAH AMOS: More than 1000 students are enrolled here. The modern glass and concrete buildings, the labs, the computer classrooms, even the soccer field – it's all new. Almost all of the professors are from Iraq, refugees in Syria. They were department heads back home, at the top of their fields, which is why so many Syrian students have signed up for the chance to learn from them.

It's the first university in Syria to offer classes in English. It has Iraqi and Syrian students. An Iraqi expat came all the way from Germany to study at the university. In a very short time, it has become a model of excellence in higher education.

Deborah Amos continues:

AMOS: The copy machines are busy. While courses here are based on American models, professors packed their own lesson plans when they fled from home. They've tried to reestablish the old Iraq on this campus in Syria, where professors are valued.
[...]
AMOS: These professors have another bond. They were all targeted for death. Not because they were Sunnis or Shiites, Christians or Kurds, says Rijad Shakur Aoum(ph), the dean of science here. But because, he says, Iraq's religious radicals want to force out anyone who has an advanced degree from the West.

It's true that Iraq's loss is Syria's gain. Still, I'm happy to see the Iraqi professors have not given up their dreams while trying to cope with life in exile.

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