“I believe that all Syrian people should be agents of peace building and conflict resolution. Syria is a very diverse country, and peace building should be a collective effort.”
Warda Sahtout, 31, studied International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University with support from Jusoor, and is now putting her peace building vision into practice.
A Peace Builder by Nature
Warda demonstrated a penchant for ending disputes early on in life. She remembers that, asa child, she rarely fought with her siblings, and when they argued with each other, she would do her best to resolve the misunderstanding. This inclination toward peace building would serve her later, when the conflict broke out in Syria.
Warda graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Damascus in 2014. Even before graduating, however, she knew that she wanted to work in the humanitarian field – it seemed a natural place for her, given the crisis in her country. “The moreI participated in humanitarian response in Syria, the more interested I grew in knowing more about improving the response into a more sustainable solution for the conflict,” Warda says.
After doing her best to support conflict resolution inside Syria, she decided to take a step back and become an expert in peace building and conflict resolution. She hoped to contribute to a better solution to the increasingly complex and protracted conflict. In 2017, Warda decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution overseas.
Big Dreams = Big Efforts
Warda knew that her fulfilling her dream would require lots of hard work.
“I remember how long my days were in 2018 when I worked on applications while having a full-time job. I usedto go to a coffee shop after work and spend around six hours working on my scholarship,English language, and interviewing skills. I lost many friends over that year because I was swamped; I couldn’t hang out with anyone,”
After months of hard work, Warda won two scholarships: a Chevening scholarship to theUniversity of Sussex and Jusoor’s scholarship to Columbia University.
“I chose Jusoor’s scholarship because Columbia is one of the best universities in the world, and New York City is one of the best places for networking, work opportunities, and merit-based competition.”
Like Warda, many Syrian scholars have received financial support from Jusoor for their academic careers. As of December 2022, Jusoor’s Scholarship Program has provided 354 scholarships to Syrian students. Jusoor aims to help create the next generation of Syrian leaders by supporting Syrian students’ access to an excellent education.
Warda wanted to give back to her Syrian community. She began volunteering with Jusoor to mentor students who wish to pursue their education overseas.
“As a mentor, I have the opportunity to meet many wonderful people from Syria who are talented and have the will to learn and provide much more for their country and humanity, but are lacking access to opportunities. Syrians deserve to be heard and seen not as refugees but as people with many talents to offer.”
Today, Warda is a project manager at Compliance and Capacity Skills International LLC, working on developing practical strategies against gender-based violence and enhancing human rights protections as part of her larger interest in peace-building and conflict resolution. Warda wishes her story would inspire other Syrian youth to follow their dreams and never lose hope:
“Syrian youth are passionate about learning and searching for every possible way to reach their dreams. If we all invest in education, it will be a win-win for everyone, and peace will come.”