Nineteen years ago, Hala Jadid Al-Kash left her home in Damascus, Syria, and fell in love with Spain. Now, she teaches in Granada, Spain and works for Suriyat Sin Fronteras (Syrians without Borders), an organization that helps Syrians in refugee camps in Jordan.
Last week, she came to Knox for the Global Learning Retreat, and dropped by Journalism and gender and women’s Studies classes, as well as SASS and Model U.N.
The Knox Student: What did you think of your time here?
Hala Jadid Al-Kash: It was very good because actually I never expected that the students would have that many questions. So it was really good. I love it. I learn more than I teach.
TKS: What was the question you were asked most?
HJA: Is there any hope in the Syrian issue? And yes, I believe there is. Maybe we struggle with more things and it takes us time, but yes, I believe there is hope. Because people want this, and when people want this, they find a way to have anything to rebuild a country, so they need the chance to do it. … But we still need the chance to.
TKS: What do you usually teach?
HJA: In Granada, I’ve been working with IES abroad for nine years, so the first six years I taught Arabic as a second language. The program in Granada is designed for Arab culture, like Islamic art and the relation between the west and the Arab world. … To understand a culture you need to understand a language. … [Then] I prepared a course about the impact of media in the Arab world, and that’s part of my thesis in the Department of Communication in the University of Granada. It’s a hard subject because you need to find the right way to tell American students what’s going on without taking sides. It’s complicated.
TKS: Do you still have family in Syria?
HJA: My mom’s still there, and my aunts and family. When people ask how they are, I say, “They’re alive.” Because they’re not good. How could they be good? The situation is not good. They’re alive. It’s hard to explain how you feel in the situation. You’re always afraid that something bad’s happened. … It’s not easy. It’s a matter of surviving, I guess.
TKS: What else should Knox know about you?
HJA: Help doesn’t need a lot of resources. You can help in a simple way. … You can encourage Knox to do scholarships for student refugees. Monmouth has 20 Syrians. I said, “Come on, twenty?”And then I said, “Oh my god, I feel home.” That’s why I push education. It’s one of the best ways to help people.