Wien (Gastkommentar) - During my academic studies, I worked on many planning projects. They included projects for the slums in western Damascus and architectural cultural projects. My graduation project, a joint project with three colleagues, was about the "Forgotten Cities" revival project in Syria. The Forgotten Cities are a group of 700 abandoned settlements in northwest Syria. Around 40 villages grouped in eight archaeological parks provide insight into rural life in Late Antiquity and during the Byzantine period. We started our work when the war in Syria had already started. For me the most interesting part, while working on the "Forgotten Cities" project, was the challenge we faced in collecting the historical information about the archaeological sites during the war and also the phase when we started to create our vision and define our aim of this cultural and tourist complex .The least exciting part was not being able to visit the site because of the war.
- It has always been my dream to become an architect and take part in the creation of my country. However, as a freshly graduated architect I was frustrated: the war had already begun and I lost many friends, some of them were arrested and others died in this horrible war. My surroundings were destroyed. Every ancient architectural and archaeological masterpiece was damaged or looted. I think it was my will of life that kept me going to work every day and always trying to be optimistic. During the war, I worked in an architecture office in Damascus where my colleague and I also designed many bomb resistant walls, especially for UNICEF. I was already preparing for my Master study but unfortunately I couldn't finish because I had to flee Syria.
- The moment I reached Austria, I found myself a homeless person, far away from my family, my husband, and my loved ones. Away from my favorite places where I was born and raised and here where life is so fast. I had to adjust to the culture of Europe and my new life. Living in a foreign country has negative aspects, such as feeling like a stranger all the time and being more serious than ever, but it also has its good side, for example I became a better, more independent person, have the opportunity to learn German and to continue my Master's degree at the TU Wien, currently one of the best universities.
- Recently, I completed the level b2 in my German language studies which gives me better opportunities to overcome the language barriers I face. I am beginning to communicate better, gaining more Austrian friends and getting to know their Austrian life style without entirely abandoning my own. In my opinion the most valuable element is the respect that people here have for each other.
- In May 2016, I began my internship at the Austrian Archaeological Institute (OeAI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences which I consider to be very helpful for my new life. I practice my German and get to know many nice people. I learn new things such as strategies to do archaeological research and learn more about the archaeological sites. In addition I had the opportunity of presenting my project about the "Forgotten Cities" in front of scholars. It has also helped to adjust to the work environment in Vienna and has enriched my experience both as an architect and a researcher.
- In the future I look forward to working in architectural history, but I am also interested in the fields of art, history, communities and archaeology.
- My plans for the next years are to complete my Master's degree and hopefully continue my work as a scholar of Syrian archaeology as well as architecture in Vienna, with my husband, who is also an engineer.
- A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. The refugee can be rich or poor, well-educated or illiterate, a good person or a bad, a religious or atheist one. The reason why I came to Austria is to have a safe life in dignity and freedom.
Lynn Karkouki, syrische Architektin und Praktikantin am Österreichischen Archäologischen Institut (ÖAI) der ÖAW
Lynn Karkouki was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1991. After her graduation from Damascus University among the ten best students, she started to work and prepare her Master study. This was interrupted by the war in Syria, because she had to flee her country. In November 2015 she came to Austria as a refugee and immediately started to learn German. Since May 2016 she has been working as an intern at the Austrian Archaeological Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
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