I’m a travel writer, which means I’m often asked, “So, what’s your favorite place in the world?”
For more than a decade, my answer was Syria, especially the city of Aleppo. Most people seemed a little disappointed with this answer — they had been fishing for a usable travel tip. And for most people, Syria was not a possible summer vacation. It was too far, too foreign, too much on the wrong side of the ever-shifting Global War on Terror.
But if they had visited, they would have found, as I did, fresh and meticulously prepared food, beautiful handicrafts and astonishing old buildings that spoke to a depth of history we just don’t have here in America. And more important, they would have met the Syrians themselves — the real reason I loved the country and visited three times between 1999 and 2009. On every trip, I found the people of Syria to be uncommonly kind, gracious and interested in the world.
by Zora O’Neill, ‘Aleppo before the war was my favourite place’, USA Today, 16 December 2016
Beloved Syria aims to do more than reveal the beauty of Syria, the depth of its history and culture, and the renown graciousness of its people.
Syrians express a great love for their country, a deep affection that indicates their links to the land and its ancient history. We hope the magazine can stimulate conversations about identity and attachment to country. What leads people from diverse faith and ethnic backgrounds to feel a sense of unity, one that is charitable?
Since their country connects continents, ‘Syrians’ have suffered occupations and wars for millennia. Many of us would have distant ancestors that passed through the land we now call Syria.
A lot of people have enabled us to produce the magazine. We thank particularly those who supported our crowd funding campaign for the 2nd edition. Your faith in us made Beloved Syria 2 possible.
But we are especially grateful to the Syrians and non-Syrians who have responded (and still respond) so positively to our requests to present them in the magazine.
Since Norma, Kris (our first patient and talented graphic designer) and I worked on the 2016 Spring Issue of Beloved Syria, the magazine team has expanded greatly. We have welcomed Syrians and non-Syrians into the team. The new team reflects the diversity within the Syrian community and helps ensure a range of Syrian voices are reflected in the magazine. At the same time, the non-Syrian members of the team can help ensure recently arrived Syrians are introduced to the wider Australian society. What began as a very modest magazine has come a long way!
The front page of the second issue connects Syria to multicultural Melbourne. It was designed by Norisa, a young Iranian graphic designer with great talent (and patience), and features a beautiful image taken by Jacqueline Mitelman, one of the most accomplished portrait photographers in Australia. The image of Syrian oud player Fadi Haddad, who now resides in Melbourne, is evocative, expressing both love and loss. It is a portrait that reflects the essence of Syria today.
Most of us in the current Beloved Syria team were linked by our work or studies at AMES Australia (Flagstaff), a multicultural meeting place we valued greatly. The magazine’s mission statement connects us: ‘Through love and learning, working for a united and peaceful world’.
Now we look forward to creating a 3rd edition of Beloved Syria. At some point in 2018, we will launch a crowd funding campaign to enable us to publish another hard copy. In the meantime, we will be adding more content to our website: articles, podcasts, videos and images.
We would be grateful for your feedback, including suggestions for new content. If you wish to donate to the magazine to help ensure it is ongoing, please contact us.
Lisa Accadia, Kirsten Bardwell, Sally Hammoud, Norisa Khamisi, Weiching Lim, Karla Medawar, Norma Medawar, Sarah Nachar
Greta Medawar, Ninos Sawa, Suhail Sawa
Raneem Abdulazeez, Norma Medawar
Programmer & Web Administrator
Youngdeok (Sean) Hwang
Jacqueline Mitelman, Susan Dirgham, and other images under Standard License from Shutterstock
Susan Dirgham, Sally Hammoud, Karla Medawar, Sarah Nachar
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