During my second year in college, I felt something itching inside of me. News about the Syrian refugee crisis was exploding in the media. Everyday, it seemed, I came across some image of refugees walking across a desert, riding atop moving trucks, standing in front of make-shift tents and shelters. After a few months of this, I woke up one day and told myself that I needed to do something for Syria. I needed to do more than bake sales and fundraisers. I needed to be there somehow, to contribute to the struggle, to feel connected to what was happening. I was tired of living my privileged life in the United States while Syrians in Syria were experiencing so much trauma. So, I decided to visit and film a short documentary about the new Zaatari Syrian Refugee Camp that opened in Jordan in the summer of 2012 to accommodate the thousands of Syrian refugees crossing the border everyday. I figured it would be the closest I could get to Syria without putting my life in danger (let’s be honest, my parents were never going to let me fly into Syria during a raging war). I also thought that hearing first-hand accounts of the revolution would improve my awareness of the situation and connect me to what was happening on the ground in Syria.
Almost two years later, I released my documentary, gave a TEDx talk about it, and completed a masters degree in refugee studies. This blog series tells the story of my journey from learning how to film and edit a movie to sharing coffee with Syrian refugees in a refugee camp in the middle of the Jordanian desert. My hope is to recount the tales and moments that taught me to keep moving forward, that inspired me to have hope in life and that remind me everyday how good I have it to live in a place free from war and persecution. Through this work, I learned that the Syrian people are resilient and their beauty shines through their efforts to live in dignity with faith and love no matter where they go.