Musaab Balchi; College Fundraising Campaign

Musaab Balchi; College Fundraising Campaign

From Musaab Balchi

Please consider supporting and sharing my crowdfunding campaign as I am one class away from graduation.

Support this campaign

Subscribe to follow campaign updates!

Recent Updates

Update #2

12 months ago

Friends,
This is the first update for my tuition campaign since the beginning of fall academic semester. Thanks for your support, I managed to complete one of my last two classes towards finishing my studies. The course I took was Islam and Politics, taught by Dr. Peter Mandaville and I received a B+. The class was an excellent addition to the knowledge I have accumulated throughout my degree. The class focused on Islamic movements, mainly in middle eastern states. The class helped me reflect my firsthand experience in Syria before and after the uprising. For the final paper of the class, I wrote a 20-page research paper on the Islamic revivalism and social division in Syria in light of the regime's economic policies. In the end, I was able to come up with an excellent research question after discussing it with several professors, and I plan to develop it into a thesis project.
Recently, I was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from Books Not Bombs organization to put towards the tuition for the final class. Thankfully, Books Not Bombs organization also helped me to spread the crowdfunding campaign through its mailing list. That brought great attention to the campaign which translated to many small contributions from around the world. That brought the total amount raised to $6,845. I want to thank the 99 people that decided to contribute to my educational journey, as well as to the many who engaged in any way. I highly appreciate your support and generosity.
Regarding the next and final class, I am short $2,245 with 28 days left until the registration deadline for the spring semester. However, I am still confident that I will be able to reach my final goal. Please support my mission through donating and sharing it with your friends and on social media.
Thanks,

Musaab

More Info

Hi! My name is Musaab Balchi, I am a 26 year old Palestinian/Syrian journalist and human rights activist.

Since September 2015 I have been pursuing my Master’s in Middle East and Islamic Studies at George Mason University (GMU) in Fairfax, Virginia, USA. Now I am one semester away from graduating, and just a few days ago, the University informed me that it is not going to be able to cover the tuition cost for the final two classes required for me to graduate from my program. Based on my legal status as an asylum seeker, I am not allowed to apply for financial aid to get loans to support my education, and I have to pay out-of-state tuition. The new situation would freeze my graduation for an unknown extent, and it is likely to have a crucial effect on my future. That’s why I am asking for your help.

To know more about my life please read the full biography below:

I was born and raised in Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria to a Palestinian father and a Syrian mother. My family does not joke when it comes to education. I belong to a middle-class family that sees education as the only way for better life. I completed my primary and secondary education at UNRWA schools, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, before I moved out of the camp to join a public high school in Damascus.

I was planning to study human rights, but there was no such degree in Syria, so, I decided to study journalism to get the needed skills to report human rights violations. My passion for human rights was shaped by the two personalities that I have had to live. It was hard for me to understand the difference between citizens and refugees, and camp and city life. I grew up in a politically active environment watching Palestine news daily on TV and hearing people engaged in political debates about Palestine, liberation, rights, etc. In my first real engagement with Damascus and the life outside of the camp, I was taught not to talk politics, not to criticize the government, and to avoid getting into trouble with sons of officials. That was incredibly challenging to accept.

In my first and second years of my undergraduate career, I worked and did internships with local news websites. I used to do investigative reports on service problems, cover musical events, and report civil society activities. I was in my third academic year when the Syrian uprising began. I engaged in the nonviolent movement from the beginning through protesting, recording, uploading, and spreading videos and photos of protests.

In June 2012, Palestinian journalists and human rights activists, including myself, established an online media and human rights organization that was focused on documenting and reporting violations against the Palestinian communities in Syria. The organization enjoyed high credibility from news outlets such as the Guardian, BBC and CNN, and news agencies such as Reuters, AFP and AP. We organized field tours for journalists to go inside Palestinian camps, we also provided visual materials from Palestinian camps for media outlets, activists to comment on the latest developments, and contact of eyewitnesses. It was a hard mission to accomplish as we were a target of armed groups from both sides of the conflict, especially the Syrian regime. Please find a sample of our work attached.

In 2013, out of fear of being forced into the Syrian military as part of the military service, and the high risk of working in state-led areas, I was forced to leave Syria. I left Syria to the United States by student Visa. I first came to Florida where I took an intensive English course at Florida Atlantic University. I applied for political asylum as the situation in Syria worsened, and I am still awaiting the decision on my case. For the first 14 months of my life in the US I was not able to work, as I was not officially authorized, and I was not able to improve my study due to a lack of money. In late September 2014, I was selected for a competitive training at the United Nations for nine Palestinian journalists annually. I was the first trainee to be chosen outside of Palestine.

After the UN program, I was committed to go back to school. I spent the first half of 2015 working, applying to schools and improving my English. After a long struggle with language, I was able to score 7 out of 9 on the IELTS language exam. At the same time, I was accepted into George Mason University and I was offered a GRA. I chose to study Middle East studies, as I was convinced that my living experience in Syria does not make me an expert, rather an eyewitness. To become an expert and effective analyst, I need to not only know the history and the current situations in Middle Eastern states in general, and Syria in particular, but also to understand the dynamics of these situations.

My studies at Mason has been one of the most exciting experiences of my life. With heavy lectures on the history of Syria, political economy, political Islam, state building, authoritarian regimes, occupation, orientalism, and theories of states, my studies at Mason not only provided me with a solid understanding of the Middle East, but it shaped my methodology of thinking, writing, and talking. It has been an informative journey that is inspiring me to think of a PhD in the near future. Please find my unofficial transcript attached. Throughout my study, I have been having an additional job to the GRA. I worked in a private company as a translator and media monitor, as a box office manager in a theater, and as a consultant with two private think-tank research organizations. Moreover, I have been vocal about the current refugee crisis. I participated in several panels inside and outside of school in which expert professors and human rights advocates were a part of.

In January 2017, I started an internship with Human Rights Watch. It was a memorable experience, as it was one my childhood dreams. I interviewed victims of ISIS in Iraq, documented eyewitnesses’ testimonies in Iraq and Yemen, and verified information from local sources in Syria. Witnessing how an organization functions as an insider was a rewarding experience that makes me eager to be part of it again.

It has been a difficult process finding a full-time job, as I lack the American experience and I am a full-time student. I am confident that receiving my Master’s degree will open more opportunities. It will be a milestone toward my mental health and life stability.

It has been a long and exhausting journey that started from day one of learning English. I have been largely successful in doing my part. Please support my efforts to bypass my current situation and make this journey fruitful.

 

Note: I intentionally avoided going through names and details regarding my work in Syria, for security reasons, as I am hoping not to cause unintentional harm to anybody.

What I need:

As the deadline for the next semester’s registration is a month away, and I have exhausted all other solutions that would enable me to finish my Master’s education in December 2017, I am reaching out to you to support my journey through investing in my education. 

The final two classes cost $8,496.00 in total, $4,248.00 each. In addition to there is 7% charge the Fundly website. I am hoping that I will be able to raise $9,090.00 by August 28, which is the start of the semester.

It is very uncomfortable for me to ask for financial help. However, because I fear how this challenge will threaten my future, I decided to leave my comfort zone and seek what I can.

For further information, professional references, contact information for my professors, or anything related to my academic career, please email me at MusaabBalchi@gmail.com. Further, please find my LinkedIn profile to know more about my achievements, and work experience, in Syria and the United States.

 

Campaign Wall

Join the Conversation

Sign in with your Facebook account or

Help Musaab raise $9,090 by making a donation.

Musaab Balchi posted a new update:
12 months ago

Update #2

Friends,
This is the first update for my tuition campaign since the beginning of fall academic semester. Thanks for your support, I managed to complete one of my last two classes towards finishing my studies. The course I took was Islam and Politics, taught by Dr. Peter Mandaville and I received a B+. The class was an excellent addition to the knowledge I have accumulated throughout my degree. The class focused on Islamic movements, mainly in middle eastern states. The class helped me reflect my firsthand experience in Syria before and after the uprising. For the final paper of the class, I wrote a 20-page research paper on the Islamic revivalism and social division in Syria in light of the regime's economic policies. In the end, I was able to come up with an excellent research question after discussing it with several professors, and I plan to develop it into a thesis project.
Recently, I was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from Books Not Bombs organization to put towards the tuition for the final class. Thankfully, Books Not Bombs organization also helped me to spread the crowdfunding campaign through its mailing list. That brought great attention to the campaign which translated to many small contributions from around the world. That brought the total amount raised to $6,845. I want to thank the 99 people that decided to contribute to my educational journey, as well as to the many who engaged in any way. I highly appreciate your support and generosity.
Regarding the next and final class, I am short $2,245 with 28 days left until the registration deadline for the spring semester. However, I am still confident that I will be able to reach my final goal. Please support my mission through donating and sharing it with your friends and on social media.
Thanks,

Musaab

Join the Conversation

Sign in with your Facebook account or

Musaab Balchi posted a new update:
over 1 year ago

Update #1

Hello Everybody,

I am very thankful for everybody who interacted and donated to my fundraising campaign. I am proud of each donation I received, especially from those I have not met. I hope to meet your expectation. Because of your support I was able to register for one class this semester. Today, I officially registered for Political Islam class taught by Peter Mandeville, one of the smartest minds in the field. That being said, I will not be able to finish the master’s this semester, however, I am hopping that is going to be possible in the Spring semester. In the meantime, I will put more emphasis on finding a full-time job in the Washington DC area, as my studying and working situations are going to be more flexible in the next months.
As I am still unable, based on my current circumstances, to fund my last class in the next semester, I am going to change the campaign end date to 01/15/2018, which is estimated to be the deadline of class registration for the Spring 2018 classes.

Best,

Musaab

Join the Conversation

Sign in with your Facebook account or