Noor – as he’s known by his friends – studies Architecture at the University of Gaziantep in South Eastern Turkey, around 120km from Aleppo, Syria. At the age of 16 while still living in Syria, Noor left his family home and went to live with friends for his safety. He continued his studies but life in Syria became too dangerous, so despite the financial constraints of moving to Turkey, in the summer of 2014 he left his home country.
In Gaziantep, in an attempt to start rebuilding his life, Noor started looking for higher education courses to continue his education. However, language was an issue since the majority of studies were offered in Turkish. SPARK’s Arabic language scholarships, which are offered for courses at Gaziantep and Harran University in Turkey since 2015, allows Syrian refugee students to study in their native tongue. Noor was awarded a scholarship to study Architecture in Arabic.
Now in his third year, Noor has nearly completed his studies. “I’ve learned many things about architecture, design principles, modern construction techniques, and theories of reconstruction by studying the history of architecture post-World War I and II. My country is in a state of war. Infrastructure and homes have been destroyed. We will need a lot of experience and qualified people to rebuild them.
Noor loves what he does: “Architecture is an art that combines precision and analysis with a beautiful design. It also teaches its students planning and leadership characteristics.” However, studying in a new country has not always been smooth-sailing. While the scholarship has reduced much of the financial burden to study, challenges student’s faced within the Arabic programme led Noor to found Academia Club.
Academia is a student-led initiative that conducts extensive research into Syrian student satisfaction with SPARK’s Arabic programme. Each year, Academia Club organises a conference at the university, inviting the Rector, professors, inspirational speakers and all Gaziantep’s university students, to deliver the findings of the survey and open dialogue on how to improve higher education for Syrians in the region.
“In the future, I will work to create community-based initiatives aimed at a wider audience. I want to be one of the community leaders contributing to the decision-making process affecting Syrian students. I want to share the skills and experiences I have acquired through Academic Club with other university students.”