By: Iman Al-Hourani
Two or three years ago they entered college with the aspirations of being doctors, engineers, pharmacists, or business managers. They made it through twelve years of intense Syrian schooling system. The stress they suffered and the tears they wept studying for the baccalauréat exam were in the past, as they now were students of one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
They were unaware that they would soon be labeled heroes as students of one of the bravest university in the world. They never envisioned their campus to be the Syrian government’s worst nightmare. Today, the priorities of Aleppo University students have shifted and their career goals have been temporarily put on hold.
Instead of fighting for their 4.0 grade point average like any other college student in the world, the students at Aleppo University are fighting for Syria’s freedom.
Instead of waking up to a dreaded 7 AM alarm clock, they wake up every day to the sounds of gunshots outside their dorms. While average college students carry Coca Cola for a pre-lecture caffeine boost, Aleppo University students use the acid in the soda to counteract the effect of tear gas exposure. They have learned to carry it with them everywhere they go because tear gas is the Syrian government’s preferred way to disperse protests that erupt throughout the university. You are running around campus because you fear being overweight? They run around campus for fear of being arrested and tortured by the security guard that is chasing them simply because they yelled the words “salmieh, salmieh” (peaceful, peaceful).
Can you imagine sitting in a classroom where the blood of your classmate has stained the desks and floors? Soldiers regularly break through doors and windows to arrest students inside the buildings. At least fifteen students left their parents to receive diplomas, but returned home wrapped in sheets. Earlier this month several students were seen falling out of the fifth story of the dorms as they were being chased by security forces. Either they were pushed out of the windows by ruthless soldiers, or the students were so afraid of the torture that they would rather committed suicide to being arrested.
Once the revolution succeeds, the Syrian people will undoubtedly look back at May 17, 2012 as of one their proudest moments. Approximately fifteen thousand men and women stood shoulder to shoulder on the campus squares protesting in the presence of the United Nations monitors. The protests staged across the nation the next day were in solidarity with the students, labeled as “Heroes-of-Aleppo-University Friday”. Despite Aleppo’s lack of involvement in the revolution, the university students are providing the spark of energy that is encouraging the entire city to rise against the regime.
Source: The Syrian Sun