Lilyan Zebib is a thirteen-year-old middle school student living in Canton, who has been recognized for a video project she presented before her classmates. The topic of her project was immigration, and Lilyan both directed and produced the eight-minute-long video for her history class.
The video entitled “The Immigrants Are Coming,” was shot in the area surrounding the Metro-Detroit district. The footage included interviews with local leaders, such as Rashida Tlaib, and the students were able to discuss how immigration has affected the area, and the positive aspects thereof.
Marina Wenstrum is one of Lilyan’s classmates, and her interviews included locations such as the Arab American Museum in Dearborn as well as Riverwalk, Detroit, which served as suitable backdrops for their video. Their history teacher gave them a wide selection of topics to choose from, but Lilyan opted to do immigration, and she says, “It’s part of my background and part of my foundation.” Although she lives in an American society, Lilyan says that she hasn’t experienced the hostility towards her as an immigrant and even being a minority in her school, she still finds everyday life to be pleasant and gets on well with her peers.
She also featured her father in the video, so that he could share his experience of moving to America as a teenager, having escaped the war in Lebanon, and how he and his family built a life here for themselves. He is pleased with the schooling system in which his children have been placed and insists that he has not experienced racism in America and sees Americans as decent people. He mentions that “As an immigrant and Arab American, I feel like we were given another chance at life,” and “we should be passing that gift to other children.”
Lilyan’s project was a great success, and her history teacher suggested her to submit it to C-SPANS “StudentCam” competition, where her video was chosen as one of the top submissions from thousands of students.
She gained recognition for her work by The State of Michigan and Wayne County, and has since continued her life as an enthusiastic scholar, being involved in many activities and school societies. Lilyan also offers her assistance to voluntary organizations, including “Lead Like a Girl” and “Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.”
Lilyan’s zest for life has led to a promising school career, and as she is always “trying new things and meeting new people,” she is set for a bright future.