The Iraqi Student Project has placed 14 Iraqi students in various
U.S. colleges and universities this semester.
Since ISP’s recent posting of online applications, the students in need of U.S. educational assistance
has doubled. “We’ve had over 30 applications for fall 2009 and we will probably call a halt to receiving more applications for this year. Our staff in Damascus
[Syria] works carefully with every single application and applicant,” Jane Pitz, U.S. executive
director of the Iraqi Student Project, said.
“They [ISP] have been with us since the beginning, and they helped us to prepare for everything,”
Jaffar Al-Rakabinasir, freshman at Saginaw Valley State University, Mich., said.
Al-Rakabinasir is studying to be a computer engineer and is currently opening up his own computer company. Al-Rakabinasir
sees this opportunity as “a good start, a slow start, to help rebuild my country [Iraq].”
“It’s important to understand that the Iraqi universities are operating,
but not well, not consistently,
not without threat, and are having terrible problems in terms of their buildings, their maintenance
and their faculty [they have been driven out],” Pitz said.
Farah Abrahim studied three years of English at Damascus University, Syria. “It was one of the fine and honorable colleges in the Middle East, yet it was still not what I dream of,” Abrahim said. “I dream of getting a higher education, because if I want to achieve my goal in reviving my country then I should get a better education.”
Abrahim, political science major at Dominican University, Calif., plans to take her new education
and “work for a non-governmental
to help rebuild Iraq. If that doesn’t happen, I would like to be involved in the political sector in Iraq and help my country in any possible way.”
“The point is that we Iraqis, we are so deeply rooted in our country, no matter how far we are, no matter where we are, we have this strong thing that pulls us back to Iraq. It’s more than love, it’s more than passion, it’s more than responsibility, it’s something I can not describe in words,” Abrahim said.
“The [ISP] students are very serious about education; they’re very committed to getting a good education and going back to help rebuild their country,” Pitz said.
A great portion of ISP’s success
is due to the local support groups at the participating colleges.
“Wherever there is a student,
we have support groups,” Pitz said. Support groups are a joint effort of many individuals and are essential to the process. They support each student culturally, emotionally and financially.
“There’s a large network of people who are part of a support group,” Pitz said.
ISP has been successful recruiting
many colleges, but has faced roadblocks as well. “I had a number of schools turn me down already this year and said they couldn’t do it. They told me they have other commitments,” Pitz said.
The growth of the ISP program
depends a great deal on the generosity of the United States and its people.
“It’s very important to have them [the Iraqi students] in our midst; they help us recognize what we’ve done to their country,”Pitz said.