ALUMNI UPDATE - SULEIMAN SALEM
The One Race Foundation is dedicated to fostering the skills and talents of our students and providing them with a foundation upon which to build a meaningful career in filmmaking, so we are always thrilled to be able to share personal updates from our amazing students with our dedicated supporters.
Here is one such letter from Suleiman Salem (Palestine, SII 2011):
I hope you and your loved ones are doing well and that this reaches you in the best of health and tranquility.
I want to thank you and everyone involved in ORGFF for everything. I know I should have sent this earlier, but the impact of the entire trip just hit me.
When I came back from Dominican Republic, I switched one of my majors to Media & Information, Michigan State University's newest film major, with a concentration in TV, Cinema, and Radio. They invested x-million dollars into their new official "Media Sandbox". I never got an opportunity to work with any type of filming, television studios, etc. - and I had switched my majors thrice in the past because I liked and was skilled in so many fields (and I say this with utmost humility). So when ORGFF gave me that opportunity, I realized how much I loved the field and how useful it was for my future intentions. I discussed it with my family, some friends, a few directors with similar backgrounds to mine (Muslim American), and one whose film was actually chosen at Sundance Film Festival. I switched my major officially and enjoyed every class I took so far.
We covered camera basics that I had learned in DR, lighting, sound; we had small exercises to do with the cameras to focus on each element. Then for a final, we had to either make a music video or an interview-type film. I went around MSU campus interviewing different students about their thoughts on Islam and Muslims. The film went viral for a few hours, it was shared about 50 times on Facebook, then I took it down because of an audio issue that my professor later helped me fix. My group member lost points on the only thing I warned him about, lighting. I'm going to reupload the film again in a few days.
In the past 5 months, I've helped and worked with people in the community and distant friends with film editing, audio, and aftereffects. I haven't enjoyed anything in school as much as this and I have great plans for the future. I've already spoken to a father's friend who owns a tv studio that sells content to cable companies and might visit him at the end of the year for a winter internship. I've also taken 20 credits last semester and this semester and although I changed majors, I should be done in two more semesters if all goes according to plan. I've also been running my own businesses on the side, one individual and one with a close friend, and have been doing really well, so I've managed to focus on media and information and working simultaneously.
I feel like I've rambled a bit, but I just wanted to update you on how things were going with me. I really, really enjoyed everything ORGFF organized and - in regards to conflict-stricken countries - I've given a lot of people in the community a bit of a different insight on how we should think and act towards people opposing us. I give sermons and lead interfaith discussions with a crowd of about 700-1200 at times, again with all humility, and the topic of forgiveness has never meant more to me than after the 6-week program in DR.
I hope all is well with you and your loves ones and I'll try to stay in touch more often! I did intend to visit in the summer but I had to resolve some issues with university housing and didn't get the chance after the semester began. Hopefully soon!
Again, from the bottom of my heart - thank you for everything!