Genwa was 17 when she arrived in Lisbon from Syria, but she soon got used to people saying how young she was to have left home.
“Yes, it was hard, I will not downplay how difficult it was for me to come here alone, away from my family to a different continent. But is it harder than life in Syria? … [Harder] than going to your art class and seeing a horror movie unfold in front of you because that neighborhood has been bombed five minutes ago?”
Now 20, Genwa is studying international relations and political science at a university in Portugal, after spending two years in the country catching up on high school.
Genwa is among hundreds of Syrian students to win a place at a university in Portugal through the Global Platform for Syrian Students, an emergency scholarship program launched by former Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio in 2014. Since then, more than 100 Syrian students have completed their studies in Portugal, graduating with bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. degrees with support from the platform, which has awarded more than 550 annual scholarships to date. (See a related article, “Group Seeks ‘Quantum Leap’ in Aid for Refugee Students.”)