the name doesn’t exist as an isolated in-
stitution,” says Montclair State president
Susan Cole. “A university is a member of
an international scholarly community.
In the most di;cult and worst of times,
universities have been a vital connection
between and among peoples and nations.
When there are thousands of scientists
and scholars who’ve lost their academic
homes through war and oppression or
natural disasters—and consequently lost
their ability to teach and learn in their
academic disciplines—of course the role
of a university is to reach out and help.”
To date, MSU has hosted scholars from
Syria, Iran, Iraq and Rwanda.
Cole has gone beyond hosting scholars;
she’s made it her mission to persuade
other universities in the state to host
them, too. To that end, she put together a
dinner of New Jersey college and univer-
sity presidents and provosts, urging them
to participate in SRF. “I told them that if
each university took one scholar, and we
all collaborated, we could turn the Garden
State into the rescue state,” she declares.
The fellowship grants are for ;;;,;;;,
which the host institution is required to
match. The fellowships are for one year,
renewable for a second year.
Jaber came to MSU in ;;;;. Her
SRF fellowship ended last year, but the
university o;ered her a position in the art
department. “I love New Jersey,” she says.
“Since coming here, I’ve changed my view
of the United States. In Syria, the govern-
ment blames all the country’s problems on
the U.S., but when I came here, I realized
the people are very friendly, very helpful,
and there’s equality among everyone.” Ja-
ber says she doesn’t even miss Syrian food.
“You can find everything in New Jersey.
All you need is to have strong English, and
you’ll feel at home.”
One of Jaber’s countrymen, a Damascus
attorney we will call Abboud (he prefers
not to give his real name), is currently on an
SRF fellowship at Rutgers School of Law,
where he specializes in intellectual prop-
erty, e-commerce and business law. Ab-
boud also left Syria amid fears for his life.
“I spent eight years in the U.K. and got my
master’s and PhD. there,” he says. “When I
went back to Syria, I had to do my mandatory military service.” Two months after
he joined the army, civil war broke out in
Syria. That was March ;;;;. Abboud’s one-year military stint was extended to more
than three. During that time, he was able
to get his wife and children safely settled
in Canada, but could not secure a visa for
himself. When his military service finally
ended, he joined the faculty of Damascus
University School of Law and applied to the
Scholar Rescue Fund.
“Things were bad,” he says. “It’s a stu-
pid and useless war. It’s not like you have
to do wrong things to get hurt. One day I
was coming to my o;ce, and five minutes
before I arrived a mortar shell hit the cor-
ridor. The school has been hit eight times
by mortar shells. Four students have been
killed. Just going to your job, getting on
with your life, is very dangerous.”
Like Jaber, Abboud is grateful to the
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