In 2011, against the backdrop of the wave of demonstrations known as the Arab Spring, millions of Syrians took to the streets demanding freedom and dignity. The government’s ferocious response, and the refusal of the demonstrators to back down, sparked a brutal war that escalated into the worst humanitarian catastrophe of our times, including the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, incalculable destruction, and the flight of millions of Syrians from their homeland. Too few outside Syria understand the conflict as Syrians have experienced it. We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled changes that. Based on interviews with hundreds of Syrians conducted over four years across the Middle East, Europe, and the United States, it chronicles the war from its origins to its present horror, solely through the words of ordinary people transformed by its unfolding. Parents, children, students, teachers, web designers, artists, playwrights, bloggers, poets, doctors, engineers, lawyers, activists, government employees, rebels, refugees, military defectors, prisoners, hipsters, Christians, Muslims, shopkeepers, grandparents—these are just some of the voices that cohere into a breathtaking mosaic. Some of the gathered testimonies are eloquent narratives that could stand alone as short stories; others are only a few commanding sentences. Together, they form a testament not only to the power of storytelling but also to the resilience of those who face darkness with hope, courage, and moral conviction.


With Wendy Pearlman, Author,

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Northwestern University

Moderated by Dipali Mukhopadhyay, Assistant Professor, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University.



Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies

This event is co-sponsored by the Middle East Institute


12:15 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

1302 International Affairs Building