Aya’s Summer in Syria


September 6, 2018

I had a very fun summer. I tried to implement what I learned in the US while I was at home. For example, I have never been on outdoor trips before coming to RIS, but as I liked it so much, I went on a 4-day backpacking trip with my friends. I also wanted to explore other parts of Syria so I went on trips with my family to places I have never been to before. I realized how loving and supportive my family and friends are. When I first came to the US, I spoke good English. However, I learned that no matter how well-spoken you are, you need to live in its society to have a better understanding of it. I knew English, but it definitely took me a while to know how to use it to communicate properly. I have never been to a zoo or a museum before in my life. There is a museum in Damascus but I have never been there. The educational system over there made people hate it outside of classrooms. So the educational nature of museums makes most people not even interested in going there. However, having more access to such opportunities makes it more exciting to go and see them. The education I am getting at RIS is awesome. It is so different than education in Syria. They may have some similarities in the taught curriculum but have a totally different aim and methodology of teaching. Also, the IB is so different than the American educational system. However, the IB is such a terrific program. Could be overwhelming but it is a fun and exciting process to me. The research, the adventurous nature of getting to know so many new things and all the different perceptions we consider making it so much fun. I think that a big difference lays in the limited access to technology usage in schools in Syria. Students are not allowed to have any devices on campus and are not taught how to use them for research purposes. I think that American students have a bigger chance of being innovative when it comes to projects. In Syria, it is all about homework and is way too practical that I feel like it deactivates the creative art of the brain.



Genetics of Breast Cancer School Project

“I have been working on my personal project for about eights months now. I designed a poster and conducted an experiment about the genetics of breast cancer using the technique of gel electrophoresis. The process was based on multiple stages; investigation, planning, taking action, and reflecting through a 3500-word report. Later, I had to present what I did for my project to the students in our school and the parents who came during an exhibition.”

Last week, Aya, our student from Syria who is studying in Boise, Idaho (in the USA) got the chance to present a personal project at River Stone International School.

Please help us to congratulate Aya on her project! This was truly amazing work that she did and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.


Meet AYA

“My name is Aya Alagha and I am a 16-year old Syrian student. I am currently on a three-year high school full scholarship at Riverstone International School courtesy of Make A Difference (MAD) Now and the School. Coming to the United States is a result of a long time of working hard and dreaming of a better education. When I was in Syria, even though I had multiple interests, my biggest dream was to pursue dentistry and make it my lifetime career. However, in Syria there are career limitations. Now that I have this opportunity to be in the USA, a country that offers opportunity and safety, I can think more about what I can do on a more global scale. Also, the lack of technology usage in Syria was a big limitation for staying updated on its importance in daily life. I am currently working on a school personal project about the genetics of breast cancer, exploring the amazing science of genetics & epigenetic and it is motivating me to pursue genetics in college, participate in internships, conferences and gain experience as one of my main goals.

Besides my interest in science, I discovered an interest in technology when I attended Dreamforce 2017 in San Francisco. It was at this conference where I realized the widespread usage of technology, its importance, and got the chance to experience programming for the first time. I also learned about what CRM is and what Salesforce is and what they do. One of my important goals is to become certified by Salesforce and be one of the inspiring trailblazers from whom I met and learned. An average salary in Syria is 800 dollars a year making it difficult to live on a daily basis. However, as a trailblazer I will be able to encourage and guide people from Syria to become certified in Salesforce. If they are certified, their job opportunities with Salesforce are limitless and life changing, especially because Salesforce is aiming to employ two million more jobs by 2020. As technology and science go hand in hand, my certification from Salesforce will help me finance my studies at a top rated college. After finishing my degree, my dream as a global citizen is to use my knowledge in genetically predicting diseases that result from genetic inheritance or mutation.

I traveled for the first time out of Syria to Kenya during the summer of 2017 for an international summer camp. I had a full scholarship to attend this camp that was based on three pillars; leadership, service and culture. Working in service sites(schools and orphanages) strengthened my willingness to help people all over the world who have creative minds and amazing abilities but lack resources like Make A Difference Now does, the organization that is enabling me to be in the USA. It also reminded me of how important is to pay it forward. ”