Submitted on Friday, 3/19/2021, at 6:00 PM

The UMass Daily Collegian has published a feature on Hallak, who grew up in the city of Aleppo before moving to Lebanon to escape the Syrian civil war and is now a first-year student at Amherst.

Hallak’s childhood in the lively metropolis was “like a dream,” she says, but she recalls the war gradually growing to affect Syria’s economy and erode citizens’ sense of safety. After the University of Aleppo, very near Hallak’s home, was bombed in 2013, her family fled to Lebanon, where she faced discrimination as a Syrian immigrant. The ongoing war has killed an estimated  500,000 people and displaced half of Syria’s population.

“Halak [sic] now proudly carries her Syrian identity in Amherst, fervently telling her friends about the rich history and sublime culture of Syria—home to poets, scholars and pioneers in medicine and education,” writes Daily Collegian reporter Saliha Bayrak. “Above all, Halak wants the world to know of the kind hearts of Syrians and their love for knowledge, history and literature.”

Hallak also expresses the hope that the bombing in her home country will end, so that it can be rebuilt and she can someday return and raise children there.