In Southern California, Dalya lives like most other teenagers: She attends high school, plays sports and hangs out at the mall. Unlike most teenagers there, however, she was displaced by the Syrian conflict and fled Aleppo with her family in 2012.
Effervescent and opinionated Dalya is the focus of a new documentary "Dalya’s Other Country," which tells the story of a Syrian immigrant teen and her family and explores a young person caught between highly politicized identities.
When I see Dalya, I see my young boys and imagine the milestones they can look forward to: their first day of school, their first time behind the wheel, their first school dance. Despite its unusual backstory (including an escape from a a war-torn country), Dalya’s tale is immediately recognizable as a coming-of-age story.
At the same time, the film offers a up-close view of an immigrant experience that's accessible to those who are unfamiliar with it. And it shows what it means to be a young Syrian Muslim woman with spunk growing up in the United States.
At times, life is challenging for her. As the only Muslim girl wearing a hijab at her private Catholic school, Dalya initially faced questions. “When I first came here, it was really hard for me to get into the environment,"she says. "I’m the only one who has my headscarf on," she adds. "Everyone was asking me, Why do you have it on?”
Following Dalya and her family’s new life in the United States, the film conveys her struggle to balance multiple identities — Syrian, Muslim, American, female — all while adjusting to a new environment.
“If I still lived in Syria,” Dalya says, “I would have become a completely different person.”
You can watch the full film, “Dalya’s Other Country,” Monday, June 26, on "POV" on your local PBS station or stream it online.