Kitchener-Waterloo

Meet 5 students who fled war and are now graduated scholars in Canada

In June 2020, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo spoke to five to graduates of Wilfrid Laurier University's International Students Overcoming War program, which funds university education for students from conflict areas.
Five women who were teenagers in Syria when the civil war broke out are among this year's International Students Overcoming Conflict graduates from Wilfrid Laurier University. (Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images)

In June 2020, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo spoke to five to graduates of Wilfrid Laurier University's International Students Overcoming War program, which funds education for students from conflict areas.

Meet these five young women and hear their stories of living through civil war, the challenges of coming to a new country to attend university and the hopes they have for the future.

Maria Almhana

When the civil war in Syria broke out, high school student Maria Almhana fled to Lebanon. Shortly after, she came to Canada for university, where she has focused on improving the role of women in society. 

Aphrodite Al Zouhouri

Even though she had not yet completed her own high school education and was a refugee without her school transcripts, Aphrodite Al Zouhouri started a school for younger kids.

At university in Canada, she has focused on studying the impact of conflict and the importance of education for children in war zones.

Rasha Nasri

Rasha Nasri was a young teenager when her school in Damascus, Syria was attacked. She was sent home. The school relocated, and the new one was also soon in a conflict zone.

Now a graduate of the International Students Overcoming War program, she says the need to adapt to danger and uncertainty in her teen years has helped her to cope calmly with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roula Karawi

When Roula Karawi left Syria in 2012, her family expected they'd return in six months. But as the war dragged on, going back home wasn't an option. They moved from country to country in the Middle East. 

In 2017, they came to Canada. Now, Roula Karawi is graduating from Laurier and hopes to challenge stereotypes by making documentaries.

Judy Barazi

Judy Barazi grew up in Damascus, Syria. She had to flee her home and leave family and friends behind.

She remembers that starting university – especially so far from a support network – can be a difficult time for many students, even if they don't come from a conflict zone. But perseverance and goal setting creates an optimistic outlook.


 

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