When Dania, a sophomore who uses only her first name to protect her identity from the Syrian authorities, filmed a video featuring Central students called “Syria, You Are Not Alone” and put it on YouTube, she expected to get a couple thousand views. Instead, the video has gained over 27,000 views, and an invitation to appear at the Berlin International Film Festival after just eight days of being on the Internet.
The video shows Central students holding up their hands with encouraging messages written on them in support of Syria and the Syrian Revolution. The Syrian Revolution is very important to Dania, who is Syrian herself and has family living in the country.
“After 40 years of being ruled by an oppressive authoritarian regime, the Syrian people are demanding to get the rights of speech, press, religion, and basically all these rights that we have here in the U.S,” Dania said. “The recent statistics say that 11,000 people are dead, about 600 are children and 700 are women.”
Dania is thrilled by how popular the video has become. “I just feel amazing and I’m just so proud of our school and everybody who participated because I want them to know that they went out and did something that is making a difference,” Dania said.
The video, meant to give hope to Syrians in refugee camps, was inspired by another YouTube video like it made in Canada called “You Are Not Alone”. Dania decided to make a similar video for Syria featuring people from the Chicagoland area. “It’s so important to show them that it’s not just Syrians and Arabs that care about what’s going down over there and that people from all over support them in their battle for freedom,” Dania said.
Many Syrians in refugee camps have already seen the video and rave about it online. “It just makes me so happy to know that it’s actually getting out there in those camps and that there are people crying and thanking God when watching it because they know that they’re not alone,” Dania said.
However, it’s not only Syrians who are seeing the video. “I might currently be blacklisted since this video is getting into Syria and police forces have been seeing it,” Dania said. Even though she knows she risked a lot by posting the video, she is glad she did it. “It’s worth it every last bit and I will do anything I can to keep fighting for my country. Even if that means that I might never be able to set foot there without being killed.”
Krystina Szafran, sophomore, was in the video and fully supports the Syrian Revolution. “It was an amazing experience because it was our small way of making a difference and shining a light on the current corruption in Syria,” Szafran said.
In addition to becoming popular on YouTube, “Syria, You Are Not Alone” has also received an invitation to be shown at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival this year. “It’s a huge honor because it’s overseas and it’s a huge festival,” Dania said.
Dania is very excited about the video’s future and stresses that this is the only beginning of her involvement in the revolution. “This isn’t the last time you will be hearing about the Syrian issue or seeing your school get involved,” Dania said. “I’ve got plans for Central. So be sure to get ready to start defying the silence.”