AbdelQader Zalkha, 24, was featured on France24 to discuss the latest developments in the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, Syria. AbdelQader was previously the head of the Local Council of Bedeen in Aleppo, his hometown, as well as a Human Rights Activist for the Syrian Institute for Justice Aleppo. 

"People there don't have any options to leave," AbdelQader said on France24. "It's besieged from the Russians and the regime and people can't get out."

The education system has been a victim to the civil war in Aleppo, Syria, where schools have stopped operating due to the security vacuum. Between 2012 and 2014, AbdelQader founded and managed an elementary school of more than 2000 students in an effort to revive the education system in Aleppo.

About a month after his interview with France 24, Abdelqader spoke about the history of the Syrian civil war, its complex local and international politics, and his hopes for the future of the country at Studium Generale TU Dellft in the Netherlands. Watch his talk here.

"It's completely tragedy and misery in Syria," AbdelQader said in his talk. Google featured it as part of "Year in Search 2016" annual video.

In 2015, Abdelqader was selected among the top students leaders from Syria to participate in the Student Leaders Program at Montana State University. During his time in Bozeman, he shared his eyewitness account of the Syrian conflict and the devastation it left on his hometown of Aleppo to the Bozeman community at the Emerson. 

"MEPI was one of the greatest experiences I have had," AbdelQader said. "It helped me to understand life better and helped me to look at the world in a different way."

AbdelQader maintains a blog where he discusses his views on leadership and some of society's most pressing challenges. A great leader must possess, as AbdelQader put it, a vision, empathy, strategic planning and ambition. 

Funded by the U.S. Department of State, the Student Leaders Program provides number of outstanding students across the Middle East and North Africa with an opportunity to develop their leadership skills and expand their understanding of civil society and participatory governance and how both may be applied in their home communities. 

For more information, contact Janelle Rasmussen: jrasmussen@montana.edu