Ten members of the AUD Syrian Cultural Club visited their country during Spring Break for the first time since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011.
Since the trip was organized by the Syrian Cultural Club, the Club’s president, Rama Hodefa, felt great responsibility for ensuring the safety of the club members in Damascus and its region. “There were security barriers everywhere, which made us feel safe, especially in Damascus,” Hodefa told the MBRSC Post.
“We heard a lot of stories about the struggles of the people there. We cried and laughed with them, because they moved us in all kinds of ways,” said Hodefa, a student in journalism.
“I did not expect Syria to be just as I left it eight years after the war,” said Mais Alreem Marouf, a student in architecture. But “the spirit of the country is still in place.”
“We walked in alleys that had been taken over by the Islamic State (IS) during the war, and this is what moved my feelings. I did not expect to come back here one day. I will return to Syria after graduation, because I chose to specialize in architecture for the reconstruction of Syria,” said Marouf.
Most of the members of the Syrian Cultural Club have childhood memories from Syria. “Our visit to the old monastery of Maaloula brought me back more than a decade, as I used to visit the church with my family every year before the war,” said Anna Josefina Hajjar, 19, an architecture student.
Farah Bashir, a student in journalism, described the atmosphere that overwhelmed the students in the plane on their way back to Dubai: “We all felt depressed on the way back. We did not say a word, we got attached to Syria and did not want to leave. After seeing the improvement of the situation, I think about the possibility of returning to Syria after graduation.”
It’s the first trip to Syria organized by the Syrian club. The Syrian government has regained control of biggest cities. but some parts of the country in the North are still held by opposition armed groups and the Kurds.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group with a network of sources on the ground, had documented, since 2011, the deaths of 367,965 people. At least 6.2 million Syrians are internally displaced, while another 5.7 million have fled abroad, according to the United Nations.
Translation: Mira Matar