Fayza is the Director of Social Media at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, which means she plays around online all day and gets paid for it. Kinda. If you’re talking to HMNS on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network, chances are, you’re talking to her. Her inner geek is pretty much her outer geek, and she loves everything about learning – and sharing that with you.
Farah Ammouri and her brother Mohammed after viewing Jerusalem 3D in our Giant Screen Theatre for the first time.
If you haven’t yet heard the mountains of praise for the wildly stunning Jerusalem 3D movie, climb out from under your rock right now. This epic film from National Geographic Entertainment whisks and winds you through one of the world’s most important cities with arguably one of the most storied pasts of all time.
But in a city as multifaceted and layered as Jerusalem, how do you do justice to its many tales without focusing on its politics?
Well, you hear it from the perspectives of those who live it every day.
The production team of Taran Davies, George Duffield, and Daniel Ferguson said in a press release, “Our goal is to look at the roots of the universal attachment to Jerusalem: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope the juxtaposition of these different religions and cultures — all with profound spiritual and historical connections to the city — will reveal how much Jews, Christians and Muslims have in common and inspire all of us to better understand each other.”
So the team asked three girls — a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim — to lead them around their city for a day. Each girl revealed surprisingly different perspectives — perspectives that form the backbone of Jerusalem 3D‘s magic.
Farah Ammouri, an 18-year-old Muslim, was one of these young women. She spent her entire life in Jerusalem, and she currently attends college in Dallas. We sat down to talk with Ammouri after she traveled to Houston for her very first viewing — ever! — of Jerusalem 3D.
So this was the first time you’d seen the full movie. What did you think?
It was awesome. I loved it. Most of my own footage I’d seen — they’d shown me the clips of what was happening and how they were filming — so I was up-to-date on how it was going to be. But I didn’t see [any of the other girls'] footage; [Director Daniel Ferguson] only showed me mine.
How did you end up in the movie anyway?
First of all, I’m not an actress, obviously. [laughs] I went to a Catholic school, and our nun asked for girls whose families originate from Jerusalem to be interviewed for a movie. A lot of my good friends were auditioning for the movie. It was awkward for awhile, being selected out of a lot of girls that you know. I auditioned in October and I found out in January of the next year. It was a shock; I didn’t know what to expect. [Ferguson] told me about the movie; that it was going to be about religion but nothing political, and I was fascinated by the idea.
You didn’t want to be a part of it because you have acting aspirations?
Nooooo. [giggles] The girls who casted for the movie … we’re all going into something scientific. I have no aspirations to become an actress.
Did you know either of the other girls [Nadia Tadros, from a Greek Orthodox and Catholic family, and Revital Zacharie, a Jew] before the movie?
I knew the Christian girl [Nadia Tadros]. She’s really good friends with me; she used to go to my school and graduated two years before me. I didn’t know she was a Christian girl, and once I knew, we started talking to each other even more. She helped me a lot [throughout the filming of the movie]; we would give each other mental support and encourage each other.
Has your life changed at all as a result of the film?
It has given me experience. I’ve met a lot of new people, and I’ve learned a lot. My personality has gotten stronger from the movie. Imagine seeing yourself walking down the stairs [referring to a scene in Jerusalem 3D], and everyone looking at you and they are trying to tell them not to look at you. When they don’t look at the camera, they’ll be looking at me, and they tell them, “Don’t look at the girl; act normal.” It’s funny.
How do you view your relationship with Jerusalem now that you’re in the United States?
I’m a bit homesick. I do want to go back to live. I came here to study Genetic Engineering and it’s really hard to study that in Jerusalem. After that, I really want to go back home to my family.
Recently, we were featured in a Houston Press article, “10 Things the Houston Museum of Natural Science Could Do Better.” While we welcome both positive and negative feedback from our guests — from pithy tweets to local press — we now realize that we’ve been a bit remiss in filling you in on our master plan. So we thought we’d take this opportunity to share our plans with you. It may help clear up a few concerns and put some happenings here at the Museum into a “big picture” context.
You may have heard of (or visited!) the new Morian Hall of Paleontology. Or perhaps you’ve wandered the cavernous galleries inside our new Hall of Ancient Egypt. You may not realize it, but you’re visiting brand new permanent exhibition halls located in the new Dan L Duncan Family Wing that opened last summer. This expansion more than doubled the size of the Museum’s public exhibition space.
Now that the new wing is open, we are focusing the majority of our energy and resources into completely renovating and upgrading the preexisting, older permanent exhibition halls and displays.
We hope this explains why some seemingly small changes — while definitely important! — have taken a bit of a backseat to these gigantic renovations. As an institution, we are dedicating investments in time, energy and money to maintaining the Houston Museum of Natural Science as a world class collection of artifacts and exhibitions. Doing so will enrich the lives of our current patrons as well as future generations of nature and science lovers.
Of course, we know you’ve got questions for us. And as your hometown museum, we have answers for you. You’re always invited to send your suggestions, ideas, hopes, and dreams to us. We’re listening. Feel free to send an email to webeditor at hmns dot org if you’ve got something on your mind. We can’t guarantee immediate action on the particular request, but we can guarantee a real, live human being will respond.
Thank you so much for being the most important part of our community. We look forward to being your source for the latest and greatest in the scientific world for years to come!
Forget about the world ending and all those rumors about Dec. 21, 2012. The question of the moment is: What will happen on Oct. 26, 2012?
If you guessed that our Maya 2012: Prophecy Becomes History exhibit opens, you’d be correct. See for yourself why the Maya civilization was successful for over three millennia … and find out when (and whether) the world’s actually going to end on that infamous day in December.
Tickets to Maya 2012 also include admission to another new exhibit opening this Friday, Gems of the Medici. So now that we’ve made you a deal you can’t refuse, don’t. Buy your tickets and find out whether we’ll all make it to 2013.