Purpose is excited to be working with Books Not Bombs, a student-led campaign calling on American universities to provide scholarships for Syrian students displaced by the conflict, and calling for an end to attacks on schools in Syria.
In partnership with Students Organize for Syria and Karam Foundation, Purpose is supporting Books Not Bombs by providing its student organizers with campaign and movement building strategy, organizing principles, creative direction, content and media support, and partnership development.
Responding to what the United Nations declared the “greatest humanitarian emergency of our time,” Books Not Bombs has mobilized over 17,000 students at more than 200 universities across the country to date to urge university officials to join the Institute for International Education’s Syria Consortium for Higher Education In Crisis to provide scholarships.
Across America, students with Books Not Bombs are gathering petition signatures, holding campus demonstrations, passing student government resolutions, producing short films, writing op-eds, and meeting with their university administrators to help Syria’s next generation of lawyers, architects, engineers, artists, doctors and teachers continue their education safely and rebuild their country.
Today, 4 million students are out of school in Syria, and of those students about 200,000 are university age. Additionally, over 6,000 schools in the country can no longer be used due to the conflict. As schools are being targeted and destroyed by airstrikes in Syria, American students are in a prime position to take action for fellow Syrian students. The Books Not Bombs team has met students, educators and university administrators who are taking bold action to support young Syrians and their education. We’ve witnessed the real power that education can provide to address and help remedy the conflict.
Books Not Bombs met the community at the University of Evansville in Indiana, a small school that has created twenty-three scholarships for Syrian students whose education was disrupted by the conflict. The Evansville community then set up Scholars For Syria, a support network for the students that also provides them the opportunity to make presentations about the conflict to educate classrooms throughout the community.
The team also met and spoke with Marc Nelson, a middle school teacher in Kewanee, Illinois, who is using art to educate his students about Syria. Last month, Marc made international headlines when the world learned he had been creating artwork of news images from Syria and using it as a way to introduce the conflict to his class to help them better process and understand it. Both he and his students have been creating artwork and sharing it on social media using the hashtag #ArtForAleppo.
Last November, Books Not Bombs worked with students at four different schools across Florida to support a coordinated day of action raising awareness about school attacks and gathering signatures in support of scholarships. University of Florida student Rana Al-Nahhas told a reporter covering the action that she joined the campaign because Syrian students deserve education as much as she does. “I think it’s our obligation to say something,” she said. “Innocent people are dying. This is just my duty as a human being.”
During the intensified conflict in Eastern Aleppo last month, we received over fifty new requests from students and educators from around the world asking how they can join the campaign. The first request came from a student at the University of Tehran in Iran. Others followed from Mexico, Malaysia, England, Italy and Finland. One student from Auckland, New Zealand greeted us with “Kia ora tatou, I hope this message finds you well during the terrible circumstances Syria is faced with. I’d like to join the Books Not Bombs campaign.”
In these uncertain times, Purpose and Books Not Bombs are inspired by the unwavering commitment, energy and creativity of students and educators advocating for young Syrians. By organizing and campaigning for scholarships for Syrian students, and by introducing Syria into the classroom and broader community, students and educators are mobilizing an entire generation to become better global citizens.
Further Reading: The Washington Post