News and Events

Escaping Islamic State group: How a Ball State professor and his family survived

By Patrick Calvert

The harrowing tale of an IIE-SRF fellow's escape from Mosul in 2014 as it was under the control of the Islamic State.

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In Memory of Ruth Gruber

Ruth Gruber's 1944 mission to bring 1,000 refugees to the U.S. from war-torn Europe helped to inspire IIE's Scholar Rescue Fund. She earned a doctorate in Germany in 1932 at age 20 with a grant from IIE. The multilingual Gruber became a foreign correspondent and photojournalist and traveled around the world covering stories of rescue and survival. She was the first foreign journalist to report from the Soviet Arctic, interviewing prisoners in Stalin's Gulag. In 1944, while Holocaust raged, DR. Gruber was sent to Europe at President Roosevelt's request, to bring 1,000 refugees from war-torn Italy to haven in Oswego, New York as part of a top-secret U.S. government rescue. With her knowledge of Europe and its languages, Gruber was well equipped for the daring journey, and successfully lobbied Congress and President Truman on the refugees' behalf for their right to remain in America after the war. We are proud to have known Dr. Gruber and extend our sympathy to her family and all whose lives she touched.  In her honor, Dr. Gruber's family has requested that contributions be made to the Ruth Gruber Chair of the Scholar Rescue Fund. Donations may be made payable to IIE and sent to the philanthropy office, 809 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017 or by contacting the IIE Philanthropy office at 646-572-8741 for further information. Funds will be used to support scholars who are facing violence or persecution.

Saving Scholars

By Beth Weinhouse

A look at the experiences of IIE-SRF fellows who are hosted in New Jersey.

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The Shattered Pieces of a War-Torn Education

By Dominique Bonessi

For Syrian students now living in Turkey, the path through higher education is far from smooth. “Higher education is an incredibly important alternative to more negative outcomes: crime, radicalization, and early marriage for young women,” King said. “Education can provide a pathway to integration within the country and durable solutions for Turkey and Syria.”

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Doomed to Hope: A Professor’s Journey from Damascus to Vanderbilt

By Karim Oliver and Charlotte Mellgard

The Vanderbilt Political Review profiled IIE-SRF Alumnus Issam Eido, who escaped Syria toward the start of the conflict there.

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Syrian Researcher Focuses on Arab World Climate Change

By Benjamin Plackett

From across the Mediterranean Sea at the University of Florence, a Syrian economist called Ahmad Sadiddin is modelling the financial implications of global warming for four Arab countries: Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.

“We have an in-depth analysis on this by piecing together whatever data is available,” explains Sadiddin, “Rainfall across the MENA region, especially in Mediterranean countries, is going to decrease and agriculture consumes 80 percent of water in the region.”

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Fellowship Brings Syrian Scholar to Harvey Mudd

A world-class, high-tech researcher, Ahmad Adib Sha’ar made his way from Aleppo, Syria, to the United States with his wife and children after the Syrian civil war erupted. He was assisted by the Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund, which supports visiting scholars from war-torn areas. Thanks to the generosity of donors, Sha’ar will be able to continue his beneficial research while serving as a visiting professor at Harvey Mudd College.

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Can Syria's Refugee College Students And Professors Reboot Their Classrooms In Chaos?

By Emma Jacobs

The Jamiya Project is an ambitious blended learning program that aims to help refugees pursue their college dreams.

The course will follow the curriculum of and—significantly, be accredited by—Gothenburg University in Sweden, though Jamiya is still awaiting approval to allow its credits to be transferable to other schools. The accreditation piece is crucial, according to James King, assistant director of the Scholar Rescue Fund at the New York-based Institute of International Education. Though still valuable regardless, the majority of online course offerings have not been able to offer students courses that count toward a degree, he notes.

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Turkey’s purge of academia leads to record asylum requests

By Jack Grove

Turkey is now the number one country for applications from under-threat scholars seeking safety in Western universities, according to two charities that help at-risk academics.

With hundreds of academics sacked, suspended or under investigation in the wake of the unsuccessful coup attempt in July, the Scholar Rescue Fund has faced an “unprecedented” number of requests for help, its director Sarah Willcox told an audience at the European Association for International Education’s annual conference, held in Liverpool from 13 to 16 September.

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Exiled Syrian Engineer Designs Wheelchair Upgrade

By Benjamin Plackett

Back in 2012, when protests had turned to revolution, engineering lecturer and researcher Tarek Kasmieh began to look for a way out of Syria. He says he wasn’t political and, unlike many other academics, he made a point of not taking sides in the conflict in order to avoid being targeted. But he still remembers mortars falling around the Syrian Virtual University and the Higher Institute for Applied Sciences and Technology in Damascus where he worked.

In his new life outside of Syria, Kasmieh believes he has found a way to put his skills to use, as he is trying to improve the lives of wheelchair users. He works as a researcher at the Laboratory of Industrial and Human Automation Control, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science at the Université de Valenciennes in northern France. Here he has helped found a start-up company called AutoNomad Mobility to create and market a product that adapts regular wheelchairs into motorized ones. “With no major innovation since its invention over a century ago, the average wheelchair is overdue a redesign,” says Kasmieh.

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