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BJ Wagner–Rest in peace, dear peace friend

Betty Jane (BJ) Wagner, our long-time ISP supporter,  went to God on Thursday, Dec. 12 after losing a long and hard-fought battle with cancer.  BJ was a member of the original core committee for ISP DePaul and a dear friend of Hala Nakla, who graduated in 2013.  BJ also stepped up to support Safana Alomary.  We will miss her generosity, her stamina in hard struggles, her warmth, and her wit.  Her family has listed ISP DePaul as one of the recipinets for memorial donations, and we really appreciate their continuing generosity.

A memorial service for BJ was   held at 3:30 on Sunday, December 22, at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Ave, Evanston, IL 60201.  Hala Nakla, our DePaul student who graduated in 2013,  spoke movingly of the effect BJ had on her life.

Meet Safana Alomary

The ISP DePaul Support group is proud to introduce to you our current Iraqi student–Safana Alomary. Here she is, in her own words:

My name is Safana Alomary. I was born and raised in Iraq and I obtained a high school diploma there. In 2008, after my father’s kidnapping and murder, my family and I decided to live in Syria, seeking safety. I left Iraq with a high school diploma and a lot of dreams but with a broken heart. After three and a half years of living in Syria, I was accepted into the ISP Program. I learned so much there from Gabe and Theresa. I loved the extraordinary opportunity of sharing feelings and thoughts as a student in Writers Workshop and other classes. This opportunity of sharing turned us from classmates to brothers and sisters who support each other during the challenging times. Another thing I admire about ISP is that it pushes us toward accomplishment and success by motivating us to do more and achieve more.

Now I am in my second year at DePaul University, majoring in Business Management. After graduating, I plan to attend graduate school to pursue my dream of becoming an architect. As an architect, I hope to incorporate beautiful Arabic design into contemporary buildings, thus helping to break stereotypes about our culture.

We need to proudly add that in the spring of her first year at DePaul, Safana was awarded a Louise de Marillac Women of Spiritand Action Award. This award is given to DePaul students who embody spirit and action by serving their communities and positively influencing the growth and development of others. Congratulations, Safana

ISP Evanston picnic a grand success!

ISP students smile for Margaret Clarke's camera

Safana and Mimoon who studies in Worcester, MA

Supporters Barb Steinbiegle and Barb Soricelli

Supporters Barb Steinbiegle and Barb Soricelli

Hala and friends

Hala and friends

Robert Rosser ISP Director, gave us some great photos

On Saturday, August 11, over sixty ISP students, supporters, and national board members celebrated the arrival of eight new students with a picnic on the lakefront.  Although co-founders Gabe Huck and Theresa Kubusak weren’t able to join us, we are all thankful that they are safely out of Syria and will be coming to the area in November.

Thanks to Neighbors for Peace, who hosted the event, along with the ISP DePaul support group, especially Margaret Clarke and folks from St. Nicholas.


If  you’re interested in seeing any of these beautiful pieces in person,contact Margaret Sents at 847-657-6807. All proceeds from their sale will go directly to  the Iraqi Student Project.

All are the work of Zainab, an Iraqi widow and single parent to two talented sons.  One of them, Zainab, is an ISP student at Grinnell College.

A professor of fine arts at Baghdad University, Zainab knows firsthand that Iraqi universities have been severely degraded since the invasion.  A renowned ceramist in Iraq, she’s been unable to get the materials with which to create in terra cotta and stoneware clay.  Fortunately, she visited Bud and Margaret Sents in 2010 and was thrilled to learn that the Sents are also ceramists, with a small clay studio in their home.  In Illinois, Zainab was able to work again and to craft several fine pieces, which are displayed below.

She has left these sculptures in the care of the DePaul ISP support group, donating them to ISP in hopes that they can be used to raise awareness of the program which has served her son and other talented students from Iraq.

East meets west in this beautiful collection of ceramic sculptures executed in the ancient coil method and then fired.  Some are left unglazed and have a primitive feel while others are glazed in rich greens and blacks.

The sculptures, all table size (12” to 22”) and suitable for summer outdoor use, are figurative yet abstract. They successfully blend ancient motifs with modern influences and truly bridge Middle Eastern and Western cultures.   Contact Margaret Sents at the phone above or at to view them in person.  In addition, ISP DePaul is actively seeing venues for display and will gratefully entertain requests from colleges, libraries, or galleries.