I Grew Up in Damascus

Driven to help others, an international MIT student is making a positive mark on the world.

By Meg Murphy. Video and photo by Lillie Paquette.

MIT is a home to individuals from all parts of the globe. These community members learn, do research, and advance the Institute’s mission of making the world a better place.

One student, a native of Damascus, Syria, looks forward to bringing what he is learning here back home. “Even though I’m thousands of miles away from my friends and family, I’ve gotten the chance to explore new things [and] meet a ton of interesting people,” says Ihssan Tinawi, a junior double-majoring in electrical engineering and computer science and economics. “Just seeing people with different opinions — that was something that was very new to me.”

In addition to his academic pursuits, Tinawi has tapped into the Institute’s many entrepreneurship and innovation resources. And he relishes participating in the MIT Muslim Students’ Association, which recently won the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award for community engagement. As a mentor, Tinawi takes pride in helping others who come to MIT from a distant land and helping them learn the ropes as new community members — as he says, “making them feel welcome here.”

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