Education

‘POV’ Looks at a Student Who Escapes Syria’s Strife for Los Angeles

By Mark Walsh — June 26, 2017 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The public television series “POV” opens its 30th season Monday night with an education-themed documentary that could not be more timely.

As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs whether to take up President Donald Trump’s executive order to temporarily bar entry to travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries, the show is airing “Dalya’s Other Country,” a 75-minute film about a schoolgirl and her family who fled the violence of Syria in 2012 and settled in Los Angeles.

Dalya and her mother, Rudayna, have fled Aleppo and moved in with Dalya’s college-age brother Mustafa, who had come to California to attend college before the violence started in their homeland. (Her other brother, whose name I didn’t catch, also lives in the area.)

The film, which airs on PBS on June 26 at 9 p.m. Eastern time (check local listings), doesn’t make clear the family’s immigration status, but the notes by director Julia Meltzer suggest they have U.S. citizenship. They also appear to have means, so they haven’t exactly arrived penniless. Nonetheless, they face challenges.

Rudayna has divorced her husband, who has stayed behind in Syria, because he took on another wife without Rudayna’s approval. Their interesting dynamic fills up some of the film, especially when the father, Mohamad, arrives in Los Angeles to visit his children and try to win back his wife.

The parents have decided that Dalya, who is around 13 or 14 when the filming begins in 2013, should attend a Roman Catholic girls high school, where she will not face much interaction with boys.

Dalya, wearing her hijab, stands for the Pledge of Allegiance and listens respectfully during required Catholic mass for students. We don’t hear from any administrators or teachers at Holy Family Catholic Preparatory School, but the school and Dalya’s peers, most of whom appear to be of Asian and Latino descent, seem to accept her readily.

Meltzer’s cameras follow the family over four years, though one gets the sense they were not a constant presence. During those years, Dalya gains confidence as she embraces certain U.S. high school traditions. She plays on the girls’ basketball team. She attends school dances (where boys from other schools are present), though always dressed conservatively.

We see Dalya and her mother watch with dismay in 2015 as candidate Trump demands what he at that time called a “Muslim ban.” Dalya is upset when Rudayna, who is also pursuing an education by attending a community college, decides to wear a hat over her hijab. “The point of the hijab is to show you are Muslim,” she tells her mother.

Los Angeles being the large, cosmopolitan city that it is, offers a family such as Dalya’s the support of a larger Muslim community, the familiarity of Middle Eastern grocers and specialty shops, and a degree of anonymity. But there is also some assimilation as Dalya hits the malls and Koreatown with school friends.

“Dalya’s Other Country” does not address how U.S. public schools are dealing with influxes of Syrian refugees. But the film never set out to do that. It is still an instructive and warm look at some newcomers to this country.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP