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Updated: 09/12/2013 7:51 AM
Created: 09/11/2013 5:40 PM | Print |  Email
By: Becky Nahm

Minn. Student: Syrians Want Greater Role in U.S. Decision

A green soccer field under the bright blue sky filled with student athletes might seem as far away as possible from the mess in Syria.

But one of the players on that field, Bailey Ulbricht, a junior at Carleton College in Northfield, spent two months this summer teaching English to Syrian refugees on the border of Syria and Turkey.

An international relations major, she felt recent opinion pieces addressing security risks were missing part of the story.

Ulbricht said, "I felt like people weren't really considering what the Syrians were thinking."

She wrote her own opinion piece. Since Ulbricht is from Maryland, she submitted it to the Baltimore Sun.

Ulbricht left Syria before the Sarin gas attack. But she is still in contact with people she met through a text messaging app.

She used her connection to find out what regular Syrians are thinking.

"They are very fearful of becoming another Iraq; I hear that a lot," Ulbricht said. "They also feel like they've been sidelined from the process itself."

She says certainly not all Syrians agree.

"Some people are really for it because they're saying, 'At this point, we want anything that's going to halt the Assad regime's massacres,' and some people are saying, 'We really don't trust the U.S. We don't feel like we were consulted.'"

She says all are hoping for a greater role in the decision.

Ulbricht says of course it would be difficult for leaders to decide who to consult and who to trust. But she says asking non-governmental organizations working in the area to connect them with real Syrians would be a good place to start.

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