Teenage Syrian Refugee Navigates Islamophobia, Multiculturalism in New Documentary

By Sameer Rao Jun 21, 2017

Dalya Zano and her mother Rudayna Aksh are but two of the millions of Syrians forced into exile by the country’s ongoing civil war. Their flight from Aleppo and adjustment to life in multicultural Los Angeles is the focus of a new feature-length documentary, "Dalya’s Other Country." Director Julia Meltzer ("The Light in Her Eyes") preceded the film’s public premiere on PBS’ "POV" Monday (June 26)* with a 13-minute short documentary and accompanying op-ed published by The New York Times yesterday (June 20). 

The above short depicts the hijab-wearing teen’s experiences at an all-girls’ Catholic school, where she stands apart from her largely Latinx and Asian-American classmates during prayers. Meltzer juxtaposes those scenes with others showing her life in Los Angeles: walking with a Korean-American classmate through L.A.’s Koreatown, playing sports while wearing a hijab and, towards the short’s end, attending a protest against Donald Trump’s immigration policies. 

"Donald Trump says stuff about every single nationality," she reflects over scenes of her playing soccer and laughing with Latinx friends. "We were talking, my friends, and I’m like, ‘What if he kicks me out? Where am I going to go?’ And they’re like, ‘It’s okay, Dalya, we’ll all go back to Mexico, we’ll take you with us!’" 

Watch the short above and stream "Dalya’s Other Country" in full on PBS.org following Monday’s premiere.

*Post has been updated since publication to reflect correct premiere date.