Syrian students cope with violence in Syria


    The Syrian civil war has affected millions of people, including two TCU students.

    First-year biology major Karim Al-Hussayni and first-year psychology major Kenda Chaker both have family members who fled their homes in Syria. While these members have escaped the conflict, both students still have family living in the war-torn country.

    “My grandmother lived there,” Al-Hussayni said. “Because of the attacks on [the city of] Homs about three years ago, my grandmother moved to Texas. She was thinking it was going to be a month, maybe just kind of a summer vacation, but I don’t think she’s ever going to go back.”

    The uprising has been raging in excess of two years, killing more than 100,000 peopleaccording to a 2013 UN estimate. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is accused of using chemical and biological weapons on Syria’s people.

    The atmosphere in Syria is very difficult to live in as prices continue to go up and poverty increases, Chaker said.

    “Danger is immediately upon them,” she said. “The apartment building my uncle lives in [had a bombing] close to it, and my poor baby cousins woke up in the middle of the night screaming and crying like, ‘I don’t wanna die!’ and ‘Help me!’ They didn’t know what to do.”

    Political science professor Manochehr Dorraj said at least three to four million people have fled to neighboring countries and are living in tents or temporary quarters.

    “They are displaced and live in miserable conditions at times,” Dorraj said. “So all of that can [cause] a great deal of anxiety and a great deal of anguish. We should all sympathize with that situation.”

    Al-Hussayni, who lived in Egypt for some time in his youth, said he would rather push the thoughts of violence in Syria to the back of his mind.

    “I’m going to tell you I’m Egyptian because I don’t necessarily want you to ask me what’s going on in Syria,” he said. “You can’t escape it. At this point, I feel like my family members are in a good position, and I feel like they’re safe because I know, but I don’t really see why I should keep trying to think about it.”

    As for Chaker, she said she longs to go back to Syria like she used to every summer before the uprisings.

    “Not being able to see your family for three years does take a toll on you,” she said. “And you know, I find if I see lots of cars, or even the smell of pollution, or just the atmosphere sometimes makes me nostalgic for Syria and what I had there.”

    Until the Syrian civil war is over, both Al-Hussayni and Chaker will have to keep in contact with their families via Skype, Viber, or Facebook and pray their families stay out of harm’s way.