Fresno State student draws from personal experience, designs refugee center for senior project

Thursday, May 19, 2022
FS student draws from personal experience, designs refugee center
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We meet a Fresno State student forced to flee her country in the middle of a civil war -- now using the experience to influence her work.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It was over 10 years ago that Dalia Moudarres first started working towards her degree in Syria.

"I've been studying since 2011," said Moudarres.

Around the same time, the Syrian Civil War broke out and conditions only grew worse as Dalia tried to continue her studies.

"It was in the middle of the war and it was very dangerous," said Moudarres.

In 2014, she used her US citizenship to move to the states, leaving family and friends behind.

"There were a lot of nights when I couldn't sleep, said Moudarres. "I didn't know what's happening, we didn't have connection, there was no internet."

Due to the political climate in Syria, Dalia's college credits didn't transfer and she had to start from scratch.

"I had to learn English, I had to find a job, even applying for health insurance was very hard for me," added Moudarres.

She was able to start again, enrolling at Fresno City College before transferring to Fresno State for interior design. When asked what she wanted to design for her senior project, Dalia says it was an easy choice.

"I picked a refugee center," said Moudarres. "I found an abandoned store in Riverside, California."

The center would include classrooms to learn English, daycare centers and residential housing.

"The idea is to take existing structures, reuse them and it goes back to sustainable principals," said Assistant Professor of Interior Design Holly Sowles.

Dalia says she'll look for jobs in design after graduation and hopes someday she'll see her refugee center design come to life

"Dalia's matured, seasoned, she's ready to go out into the world," added Sowles.