The Iraqi Student Project - The Latest Info
For seven thousand years or more, the people in the area now known as Iraq have been a learned people. The fertile crescent bounded by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers was home to the world's first known civilization, the Sumerians. Because its peoples produced the earliest writing and some of the first mathematics, science, laws, and philosophies of the Western world, this land has been called the “Cradle of Civilization.” During the Ottoman Empire, the people who lived in this region enjoyed a rich culture full of universities, libraries and museums. Even after the League of Nations created Iraq and during the punitive U.N. sanctions begun under the Clinton Administration, colleges and universities in Iraq continued to operate and struggled to maintain their famed excellence..
Now, however, after the U.S. invasion, occupation, and continuing violence, studies at the undergraduate and graduate level in Iraq have become nearly impossible. Of the millions of Iraqi refugees, the vast majority have little or no access to higher education.
The Iraqi Student Project (ISP), founded by Gabe Huck and Theresa Kubasak, is designed to address this tragedy. Gabe and Theresa are founding members of Neighbors for Peace who now live in Damascus. There they came to know many Iraqi refugees and last spring began to look for ways to help some of the young people eager for a college education. The result is the ISP.
Modeled after the successful Bosnian Student Project in the 1990s, the Iraqi Student Project is seeking tuition waivers from U.S. colleges and universities and establishing support groups in local communities to facilitate the students’ success while in our country. Currently, the Project has two hard-working staff: Tara Monthir Hasan works from Amman with potential Iraqi students, facilitating their college applications and the necessary language tests, and helping with Visa applications. Natalie Baker Merrill works with the institutions and support groups in the U.S.
Over twenty-six colleges have expressed interest. Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan and Holy Cross College in Indiana have already officially signified their acceptance of Iraqi students for Fall, 2008, and several other institutions are in the negotiating stage.
Members of Neighbors for Peace hope that several Chicago colleges will take advantage of this opportunity to serve Iraq's future. Gabe and Theresa report that the Project is looking for more contacts at Chicago universities and also for funds to pay for language testing and student visa applications. Tax-exempt contributions can be sent to:
Iraqi Student Project
c/o Faith & Values Media
475 Riverside Dr. #530
New York, NY 10115
With Iraq's higher education system in ruins, with more than four million Iraqis displaced inside and outside Iraq, with occupation and sectarian strife continuing, and an estimated death toll of more than a million Iraqis, ISP offers a small but significant effort toward reconciliation and restitution. For more information, see www.iraqistudentproject.org, or write Gabe and Theresa at email@example.com. If you have contacts for area colleges, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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