2016, Dima Srouji

DIMA SROUJI (M.Arch ’16)

Zaha’s legacy as an Arab. My body reacted in an unexpectedly emotional way when I read Dean Stern’s email that Zaha had left us. At first I thought I was being emotional because she had been such a big part of the Yale experience, but then understood how much more she meant to me than I had ever realized.

In a conversation with Dean Stern about Zaha it became clear that Zaha’s achievements were based on her talent, but part of her motivation came from her identity and background. When asked at the Oxford Union about her most significant project, Zaha said it would be the Iraqi Parliament building. This answer reveals a lot about her.

Leaving your mother tongue and your place of birth as a child for political reasons, as I know from my own experience, is traumatizing; but it ignites great strength and perseverance. It was this aura that attracted everyone like moths to a flame.

Dean Stern told us she would say her happiest time was in Lebanon at the AUB, where my grandfather also studied architecture. Losing her feels very much like losing a family member that I wish I had gotten to know and had spoken to in Arabic.