ISP News - Summer 2016

Summer 2016 Newsletter

Dear Friend of ISP,

It is with mixed feelings that I send you this final newsletter from The Iraqi Student Project. First among those feelings is pride . . . pride in the accomplishments of the sixty-four Iraqi students who were prepared for undergraduate education in the United States. Forced to flee their war-torn country, they found refuge in Syria. There, in Damascus, they found ISP, where Gabe Huck and Theresa Kubasak and a host of volunteers prepared them for college in yet another country. Now, of course, Syria too is shattered by war. It became impossible to sustain ISP in Damascus after the last group of students left for the US in 2012 and became our final graduation class this past May.

For the last half-dozen years, it has been my privilege and joy to serve ISP as Coordinator and then Executive Director. I can say without hesitation that it has been one of the great blessings of my life. I found myself in the company of so many peace-loving and compassionate men and women: host families, support group members, educators, and donors. And the Iraqi students! They became the light of my life, the joy of my heart, the reward and inspiration of my every effort on their behalf. Having never known the privilege of parenthood myself, I came very close to it in my love for these brave, resilient, and affectionate daughters and sons. What they taught me about courage in the face of adversity, love of country, and devotion to family will sustain me throughout my remaining years.  

As you read the attached newsletter, you will see that The Iraqi Student Project has come to an end not with a whimper but a bang! The ISP Reunion in May was a resounding success. My predecessor and good friend Jane Pitz and I came up with the idea, but the students themselves made it happen, complete with a study theme of “Paying it Forward,” a triduum of camaraderie, and yes, song and dance.

There is other news here: food for thought, occasions for gratitude, and opportunities to help. The new Board of Directors will see our last student, Safana, through her graduation from DePaul University in May. Gabe and Theresa have again proved themselves undaunted in the face of challenge. They have begun to help Syrian refugee students toward educational opportunities—and have already placed six Syrian undergrads in US colleges and universities. Their contact information is in the newsletter along with news of their new book (it’s wonderful). They would love to hear from you.

The motto adopted by ISP lives on, demonstrated in the lives of ISP graduates and all peacemakers everywhere:

 Establishing lasting peace is the work of education (Maria Montessori).

Love to all of you,

Dr. Bob