Starting in 2008, a core group of young men and women from Brooklyn and Bethlehem committed themselves to challenging the media negative images of youth and transforming their life experiences, into a movement to assist youth world-wide. After writing and performing their work in two documentaries, these young adults will take the world-stage as breaking walls’ creative leaders.
RYAN SMITH – “Growing up in Brooklyn all these years has taught me to always expect the unexpected, especially with opportunities that come once in a lifetime. “brooklyn bridges- to bethlehem & back” is one of those opportunities. Life in the hood is pretty calm right now, and there are a lot of recent positive events that have made it that way. I am happy for the calmness because being a part of this documentary has made me love Brooklyn even more and value the people in it– my friends, family, and the people who work hard to make my neighborhood run smoothly.
“I had never been out of Brooklyn for more than a week, so the trip to Bethlehem had me very excited. I came back to Brooklyn with a whole new way of looking at the world. This trip to create the documentary was a highlight in my life. It brought me closer to my fellow cast mates, and my brothers and sisters in Bethlehem.”
“People in this world might look at me in the same light after all these experiences but it will not bother me because this whole Bethlehem to Brooklyn experience has taught me that you should never judge people, because you never know what they carry on their shoulders, where they have been, or who they truly are.”
“So many kids in my Brooklyn neighborhood are at-risk, like I was, I’m proud to be a part of changing that through our breaking walls project.”
MOHAMMAD ABU-SROUR – “Living in a refugee camp is not easy especially if you are forced to live in one. I consider living in the camp like staying in a station while waiting for your train to go back home. Even though the camp is small and crowded, and every day you are fearful, I feel I have a responsibility to myself, my family and my people to create a better future. I am strong in contrast to the weakness of the situation in the camp. I’m like a bird that fights for his freedom. I have my goals that I want to achieve.
“Joining the brooklyn bridges – to bethlehem & back documentary made me feel that I’m not alone. No matter if you are black or white, what language you speak, or which area you live in- We are humans. We share the same interests and problems with few differences. We live on the same planet. Why not try to become friends? Why not try to work together for the best?”
“I learned a lot from this documentary. For one thing, it is very important to find yourself—to discover what you are capable of doing, and look for the beauty in everything; then, you will be a person who truly knows himself. I am happy that I will be able to share this idea with the kids in Berlin. I am proud to be a leader now.”
AMEER SHAN FAZAL – Shan graduated from Independence High School, and left college where he studied music to take on his father’s job as a doorman when his father suffered a stroke in January of 2011. He plays guitar with his band FOUR WHITE WALLS. “brooklyn bridges- to bethlehem & back”proves that as young adults we want to create positive change- that when we care for an idea we go after it non-stop.
“Being one of the first breaking walls facilitators, after writing for the two documentaries, means everything to me. Ryan and I did a mini breaking walls writing workshop with the students at Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School. Every student seemed to really enjoy it, AND THEY WANTED MORE!!!!! I felt proud about the entire experience and am very confident about the future of everything that we are doing with breaking walls. Berlin we’re on our way!”
“brooklyn bridges- to bethlehem & back showed me how powerful my words, my voice can be for creating positive change. I see change comes from the bottom up- but it arrives.”
“Now being a leader for breaking walls is important for me because all the world has problems, we should listen to these problems and write about these problems because hand-in-hand we can do anything.”
FABIENNE MUNTU – Fabie graduated from Brooklyn Academy High School on Marcy Avenue. She is studying Political Science at Plattsburg State University in NY, and intends to go to Columbia Law School upon graduation. Fabie will pursue a degree in International Law at Columbia.
“Being in the documentary showed me that everyone is the same. No one wants to be judged. No one wants to feel unimportant or unheard. I’m proud that I can lead this new group of writer-performers from Bethlehem and Brooklyn as we all travel to Berlin to explore all their lives, hopes and dreams through writing and performing.”
ROWA’ ABU-SROUR – Rowa’ attends the UNRWA Girls High School in the Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem. She is studying hard for the exit exam, the Tawjie. Her goal is to attend the renowned Bard College’s new campus in Abusdis near Bethlehem. She will study Business Administration and eventually open her own business that will employ Palestinian women.
“Our documentary showed me that I am not the only person who is suffering in this world. I know our film is a very huge step but it isn’t enough for us. With breaking walls we want to continue on this bridge. I am sure there are other youngsters who will want to join us.
In 2013 breaking walls is proud to announce the addition of our Berlin facilitator Merve Kania.
MERVE KANIA — Merve was born and raised in Berlin, Germany, and grew up in the multicultural district of Kreuzberg. Currently she lives in Toronto, Canada, so she can extend my personal horizon; expanding my English language skills, self-independence and knowledge. Although I love reading books, I find that the face-to-face dialogue is the best way to get to know other peoples’ insight – their culture, their background and their motivation in life.
“Taking part in breaking walls 2012 Berlin as a new writer and performer made me become a richer person. It inspired me to step out of my own comfort zone and to open my eyes for the beauty of others’ souls, no matter what language they speak or skin colour they have. Furthermore, breaking walls developed the desire in me to study International Relations at university as soon as possible.
Being invited to become a new facilitator for breaking walls 2014 Cape Town fills me with pride. I look forward to giving the writer-performers from Bethlehem, Berlin, Brooklyn and Cape Town an opportunity to express themselves openly and honestly in a supportive environment. I hope that they experience something as magical as I did.”