Mohamad Ghaith Alzin is not your run-of-the-mill overseas student. The information systems science student chose Soka University for his postgraduate studies partly due to his interest in Japan, but mostly because he could not study in his home country.
Home for Ghaith is Damascus, the war-torn capital of Syria, from which he fled after high school, leaving his parents and three younger siblings behind.
“Before the Syrian war, we were living a beautiful and peaceful life in Damascus,” he said. “I never thought that I would live outside Syria for a long time because of the war. The family situation was perfect before then. After the war, the financial and psychological condition of my family deteriorated.”
After finishing high school in Syria, Ghaith decided he wanted to continue his education outside his home country.
His dream was to study communication engineering in English, and with one grandmother having already relocated to Lebanon as a direct result of the war, he decided to move there and enrolled at the Lebanese International University (LIU).
After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in communication engineering at LIU, he decided to continue on by pursuing a master’s, but had to first find a way to finance himself.
“I registered for one semester and worked in the university cafeteria at the same time,” he said, adding his 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. work shift made it almost impossible to manage his studies.
Subsequently, he started to search for scholarships, one of which was sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Soka University caught his eye, as it offered an area of postgraduate study that was of particular interest — namely, information processing systems science.
“Any new environment is challenging in the beginning, but for me, I was pleased to discover a new culture like the Japanese one,” he said. “Japan is well-organized as a country, and Japanese people are very kind. The most challenging part for many Syrians is finding Halal food, but I adapted to eat delicious Japanese food.”
Ghaith says his goal after graduating is to work for a Japanese drone company to gain experience and knowledge as well as utilize his own research at Soka University, but he eventually would like to return to Syria.
“I would like to contribute to the rebuilding of Syria soon,” said Ghaith. “To do that, I think I need to grab a lot of skills from studying and working in Japan.”
He also intends to carry with him the philosophy of the university founder, Daisaku Ikeda.
“I believe that Ikeda’s philosophy makes our world a peaceful place to live by inspiring people to work for peace and humanistic education.
In addition, it does not support war makers or anything leading to war. So, I will try to bring what I learned at this university to Syria someday,” he said. His dream for the future is to build a company in Syria that promotes peace through technology, “And if possible, I would like to establish a university that teaches peace with other disciplines — like Soka University,” Ghaith stated.