The face of conflict in Syria

Brooke Lake

It has been three years since the beginning of the now bloody and devastating Syrian uprising and resolution seems like a distant cry. Many of my friends and colleagues in Fort Collins lack even basic knowledge about the conflict and frankly do not have a face they can personally associate with the conflict. The civil war in Syria between the Assad regime and rebel factions have claimed over 100,000 lives, displaced over seven million people within Syria and more than two million have fled the country in order to escape the violence, according to the United Nations. When living in Fort Collins, the conflict can seem like an intangible ordeal having very little relevance to life in the States. However, it is necessary to realize the genocide in Syria is not just another sad story we should forget about after watching the evening news.

After living in Jordan for just four months, the conflict in Syria stopped being a far off news story I could ignore for the most part and started manifesting itself in my everyday life even as an American living abroad. Jordan, for most Syrians, is the most accessible refuge as well as home to Zaatari, the largest Syrian refugee camp which hosts over 200,000 refugees. To lend perspective, Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan is now the country’s fourth largest city.


I attended a private university while I lived Amman alongside Jordanians as well a large population of refugees from Syria, Iraq and Palestine. My friendship with two particular Syrians, Ahmad and Meriam, forever transformed the way I looked at the conflict.

I try to imagine my life as if I were Merriam or Ahmad having to leave the home I grew up in, or wonder if I will ever see my country the way it used to be. I wonder what it would be like hearing news that my 17-year-old cousin was assassinated or that my mom will die from cancer because we cannot obtain the proper medicine for her to live.

It is impossible for me now not the see the conflict in tangible terms now that I have emotional investment from developed relationships with people who suffered at the hand of the Assad regime.

The Assad’s genocide in Syria is destroying the lives of many families and bastardizing the beautiful land of Syria with his bloody civil war — lives of breathing, hoping, respectable human beings with fears and families.

I have feelings of discouragement knowing that when the majority of my American friends think of Syria they conjure up images of angry Arab men yelling in the street or violent and chaotic images of gunfire, radicals and teargas.

When I think of Syria I see my friend Ahmad from the city of Hama and his endless love for knowledge and reading. I have warm memories of intellectual conversations and have nothing but respect for this human being. He is not defined by the evil from his dictator’s hand.

When I am reminded of my friend Meriam, a Syrian from the city of Homs, I thinkof my gorgeous and equally intelligent colleague from university who passionately studies pharmacology and was also all-too-generous with kindness.

Meriam and her family suffered extensively economically and through displacement. She and her siblings fought their way to study at a respectable university in Jordan while the family waits for the day they will be able to return home to their beautiful town of Homs.

I will never forget Ahmad when he spoke to me freely about his experience with the conflict, “You raise a country by education.”  He explained to me that he dreams of the day that Syria can return to the way he remembers it to be — one that is known for an educated population and beautiful culture.

I can say with confidence that my Syrian friends are among the most passionate, gifted and intelligent people I know. I am speechless when I compare this with an 2013 official U.N. report announcing that the civil war in Syria now seriously threatens to leave an entire generation of Syrian children illiterate.


It deeply saddens me to think of the millions of children who now live as refugees and face little to absolutely no formal education since Assad’s civil war destroyed the public education system which is responsible for widespread illiteracy among Syrian youth.

Every Syrian who has suffered from the civil war will always remember the line, “I am gonna tell god everything.” These were the famous last words a 3-year-old Syrian boy said before he died.

Brooke Lake loves to passionately regale her experiences abroad. Feedback can be sent to

In Brief:

It can be easy here in the U.S. to think of the wars abroad as something detached from yourself

Most of the predispositions that we can have with the Syrian war are unjustified and unfounded

There are plenty of reasons for students to invest themselves in the tragedies happening currently in Syria