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Subjectively Objective: Back to school in Syria

The raging civil war in Syria seemed to hit a peak in American interest over the past few weeks.

Images of men, women and children killed by what is believed to have been chemical weapons made the reality of this two-year conflict nearly impossible to ignore.

On the surface, this situation didn’t seem to have any bright spots.

But then I saw one.

Two weeks ago, foreign reports revealed that in the midst of the violent conflict, Syrian children were still going to begin their school year.

The classroom had become a battlefield, yet they deemed education a necessary priority.

After hearing this, I was immediately convicted.

As a kid, I looked forward to the day when I’d be done with school forever the same way a prisoner looks forward to the day he’ll finally be freed from his cell.

That day arrived for me this past May, and I’ve been experiencing this once-presumed “freedom” for the past five months.

Though I certainly don’t miss the late nights hovering over a textbook or early mornings rushing to class, I must admit, there was something liberating about being in an environment centered entirely on obtaining knowledge.

To the average American student, stuck in between homework and lectures, this statement may seem insane.

But to the Syrian children, stuck in the middle of a senseless, sectarian war, it is not.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a smart man. He even once practiced as an ophthalmologist.

The rebel groups of Syria seem to be primarily comprised of radical yet politically informed individuals from every walk of Middle Eastern life.

Due to limited perspectives and skewed thinking, however, the two opposing sides appear to only be able to reason in blood.

The sad reality is that war is an equation with no simple solutions. It is an essay painstakingly difficult to finalize.

As the conflict rages on, individuals all over the world will be searching for reasonable answers to liberating the Syrian people.

International politicians are throwing around words like invasion, air strike and diplomacy.

I certainly don’t confess to knowing what the solution to this two-year conflict is, but if I had to guess, I would say that the real hope for any long-lasting solution is probably sitting at a desk in a Syrian school, with his or her eyes piercing forward, and his or her hand raised in the air.

That image should be a symbol of hope for Syrian citizens and a symbol of humility for American students. For Syrians, the struggle is all too real.

The next time an American student complains about how the school year brought about all-nighters, boring classes and the loss of social life, they should think of their brothers and sisters in Syria, and how the war brought about night bombings, destroyed classes and took lives.

Still, wherever one lives, the process of education is not an easy one.

Studying can be stressful, teachers can be difficult and the classroom can often become a battlefield.

Nevertheless, I’m sure that Syrian students and educators would agree that true holistic education is a concept worth fighting for.

Editor’s note: Nathan Porter is a 2013 English writing graduate and former columnist. He is now interning at The Washington Times.



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