We sit in the garden of the Salam school in the city of Reyhanli, at the Turkey-Syria border. The wind ruffles the olive trees, and from the corner of my eye I see the school's pet ducks and rabbits basking in the afternoon sun. This is the setting of Karam's journalism class.
But with the rise of ISIL and the American commitment to destroying it in mind, providing opportunities for university study to Syria's qualified young men is no longer just about higher education, its also about security and preventing the radicalization of a generation.
The success or failure of the open-ended American military intervention in Iraq and Syria will not be apparent for years, yet there is one area where the US mission has already yielded improvements: humanitarian funding.
On September 16th, the northern Syrian town of Kobane, - a town predominantly populated with Kurdish people, on the Turkey border came under siege. Since then, reports state that more than 140,000 refugees have flooded into Turkey.
A political solution is needed to bring an end to the fighting, but in the meantime, we can and must do more to help the region withstand the far-reaching effects of the conflict -- and we must do it better, faster and smarter.
As the school year wraps up, most children are already focused on their summer plans. But today, for more than five million Syrian children inside and outside the country, summer is not a joyous break from routine.
Not only are Syrian girls as young as 15 with refugee status being sold into marriage, the marriages are effectively shams and more apparently, sexual servitude -- whereby the wealthy husband divorces his wife after a few days.
A refugee crisis is anything but fair, though. Donors want results; the media wants stories; the government wants greater support; and refugees want effective assistance. But, it is the children that need protecting. If we bungle protecting them, what else could possibly matter?
I'm imagining President Obama, President Putin and myself in a room. Strange thing to imagine, I suppose. And the one catch is that none of us can come out of the room until we decide what to do with Syria.