Thursday, November 15, 2012

Syria in ruins

I know everyone's busy being worried about Gaza (or being worried about Israel? Not sure) at the moment, but here are some recent pictures from Syria that will make you cry. Just so you're warned.

Just before my Twitter feed (heavy on Syrian/Arab news sources) was overwhelmed by the developments in Gaza, I saw reports that the Baramkeh campus of Damascus University was being evacuated. I also saw reports that shelling is hitting the Omayyad Mosque/Old City in Damascus.

In better news, I got an email from a former student of mine in Damascus, letting me know that he's ok. I was almost sure that this particular guy was either (a) fronting up some unit of the FSA, or (b) dead as a result of (a), so it was nice to hear that he's alive and well-ish and trying to finish up university (!). Two days after I got that email, I saw that his area of Damascus was hit by a car bomb. He wrote me again to let me know he was still ok. What made me laugh/cry was that within the same email message, he complained about the damage and casualties of the car bomb...and also the ophthalmology exam he was going to have to take the next day. Talk about adjusting your normal.

I have a few Syrians in the classes I'm teaching this semester. Nobody ever told me I'd have to teach college study skills to students whose homeland is being ripped to shreds, students who skype their relatives in Syria and the gunfire in the background is audible. These are students who sometimes look stressed and tired in class to the point where they put their heads down on their desks, and I don't know if they stayed up late playing video games or if they stayed up late worrying about the safety of their family members. I try to check in with them regularly to see how they're doing. I hope they know that I care, even if I don't know quite what I'm doing, either. Like I said, no one ever taught me how to deal with this.

8 comments:

Liz Johnson said...

Here's what's crazy - if you look at CNN's US homepage, you would have to really search to see that anything is happening in Gaza. There is a headline about cats being gunned down in Louisiana, but nothing about Israel/Gaza. There is one headline about Syria - "Death toll in Syria's civil war: 37,000". But the Gaza stuff is kind of buried underneath the Gen. Petraeus scandal and something about BP being fined for that oil spill. It's so weird.

Those pictures were horrific. I really can't even imagine. It just makes me sick that people are being massacred and nobody is really doing anything about it.

Nancy said...

War is horrible. I can't even imagine being in Syria; or having loved ones there. Looking at those pictures was heart-wrenching for me and you're my closest connection to the country...

Also, I agree with Liz. I found out about the Gaza/Israel thing from facebook (a friend who posted an article from an Arab news outlet). I've seen nothing here...

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Just before reading this post I breezed through CNN and BBC online; BBC's headline is about Gaza, the first I've heard. In smaller headlines is "France Pushes Arming Syria Rebels."

There have been objections the past year to arming the rebels because it would lead to full scale civil war. What term would apply to the current situation? How about massacre and annihilation of a citizenry and their rich cultural heritage.

I assume you're speaking of the musician. How sad I am for him and his generation. At the same time, it's amazing that classes are still being held amid the danger. They would cancel classes here if the electricity went off for an hour.

Crys said...

Liz I saw that same 37,000 dead headline. That's the one I clicked on. When that house blew up a few miles away I thought about those people living in Syria. It was the first time I really realized that even if you neighborhood isn't being bombed you are probably literally feeling the effects all around you. I can't imagine how people are still functioning. Truly a testament to the power of the human spirit, although I think we can all agree enough already Beshar. Please step down. I'm a little tired of the Petraeus thing. He resigned. He'll still have to testify. The whole world thinks he is a d bag. His home life is in ruins and probably he could use some time to try and apologize for real to his wife and children. I used this moment to remind my husband that I have a zero tolerance cheating policy...as in if you do it, I will kill you. Enough already news stations. Find something else to report on.

Susanne said...

A local friend told me about the Hamas guy being killed because he was talking to a coworker in Tel Aviv at the time, and she mentioned it to Jason. Oddly, while I was leaving Walmart, I noticed whatever news channel they had on was talking of Gaza and war. I stopped to watch for a second.

I wonder what is the best solution for Syria. It's heartbreaking what your students and millions of others have to endure. I'm glad your contact in Damascus is well and is checking in occasionally to let you know he is OK.

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

I feel so helpless trying to figure out what I can do, besides pray, about the situation in Syria. I don't even know what anyone could do, besides put a lot of peacekeepers in and hope an elected government would work. From the pictures, it doesn't seem like even the basics of a civil society are even there. And I don't know where the peace keepers would come from. So I am left with prayers, and sadness with an occasional crying bout. It must be even harder having lived there, knowing many people you care about are in mortal danger every day. Yeah, praying is all I know how to do.

Sarah said...

I'm glad your friend is okay. I hope your other friends are too. Is that the mosque where we wore 'hobbit' outfits? Bleh, it makes me so sad

Anonymous said...

You were right, the pictures did make me cry. I feel so helpless watching what is happening in Syria. I wish there were something useful I could do to help the people there.

Hannah

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