Do Something Good:
A Better Place
In the 1980s when Farid was a child, he and his family narrowly escaped the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, travelled incognito through Saudi Arabia, and thanks to the charitable support of a wealthy sheik, made it to the United States. Then he became the quarterback of his high school football team. He married Naheed, an aspiring Indian-American writer, and they started a family of their own.
Now Farid is a university professor and noted political scientist, and Naheed is an award-winning author of young adult fiction about the immigrant and refugee experience. Both work to bridge the divide between mainstream western culture and the Muslim world.
The film follows Farid to his college classes, where at first it seems that the divide of understanding is indeed vast. Students have difficulty locating middle eastern countries on a blank map; they even have trouble pronouncing their names. But after a semester of his Poli Sci course, Farid's students develop real insights into the complex cultural and political forces at work in this fascinating region, and they share their new understanding for the film.
We witness Naheed's creative process and her dedication to writing important stories that newcomer youth will find empowering. One of her early books is a fictionalized account of Farid's escape from Afghanistan, and another is based on her own family's experience of the conflicts between India and Pakistan -- all told in an engaging youth-friendly style. Her talent is being recognized and her efforts are paying off as she continues to produce title after title, always keeping the promotion of multi-cultural understanding front and center.
It's evident that this successful all-American Muslim family is making an important contribution to the community near and far. But have they fulfilled the one request made of Farid by his mysterious Saudi benefactor
so many years ago?
Farid's Santa Clara University Political Science students in deep negotiations for the "Simulation" class, where each is assigned a role as representative of a middle eastern group.
A Better Place
Naheed is swamped by fans seeking her autograph at the book release event for "Escape from Aleppo," one of her recent young adult titles.
Celebrating end of year with Farid's class at a nearby Afghan restaurant, seated on the floor for a delicious traditional meal.
Farid gives yet another interview for
"Do Something Good" at UC Berkeley.
Photo by Ric Rocamora