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. 

This month CBC Kitchener-Waterloo will be speaking to graduates from the Wilfrid Laurier program: International Students Overcoming War. The program helps fund university for students from conflict areas. Meet Maria Almhana, who grew up in Syria, moved to Lebanon and three years ago came to Canada as a refugee. 6:46

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.

Aphrodite Al Zouhouri was a young student in Syria when her family fled the civil war. Stranded in Lebanon, she started teaching younger kids before she had even completed high school. She's an International Students Overcoming War scholar, a Laurier program that helps fund university for students from conflict areas. This is the second interview in our series with graduating students from that scholarship program. 8:37

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.

It was a terrifying moment for Rasha Nasri when her school in Syria was attacked. She was sent home. Scared and unsure what would happen next. That was eight years ago. Now lives in Waterloo region. She's an International Students Overcoming War scholar, a Laurier program that helps fund university for students from conflict areas. This is the third interview in our series with graduating students from that scholarship program. 7:23

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.

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. After moving from country to country in the Middle East they came to Canada in 2017. Now she wants to make documentaries. Roula Karawi is the fourth graduate we meet from Wilfrid Laurier's International Students Overcoming War program. 5:41

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.

Judi Barazi grew up in Damascus, Syria and was a teenager when the civil war began. As an International Students Overcoming Conflict scholar at Wilfrid Laurier University, she found herself like many new students, in a "dark place." But overcoming both war and anxiety, now she shows off her creativity as a software engineer and film graduate. 7:29

 

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