The audience will follow the journey of 20 year-old "Sam" Samir Khalil. Sam's Journey will follow in the footsteps of an identical journey made by a distant Grandfather and evocatively documented in the Journal which he uses as his guide.
Sam is a USC student of engineering and an average American kid. On his father's side he is of Lebanese descent and his family has been living outside of the Middle East for four generations. His mother is a first-generation immigrant from Iran. Sam is a fictional character but his journey is a personal one, as he discovers his heritage through his first visit to the Middle East. His story is also universal—a story of finding a reflection of one's self by looking into the past. His eyes, like many of those in the audience, will be seeing this canvas for the first time, and together they will be transported by the exotic imagery of this world. Using the device of a Journal that Sam inherits, we provide a bridge to the past through his Great-Great-Great Grandfather for whom he was named.
Sam's Grandfather, Samir bin Khalil, will be in his early 40's at the time he makes his own journey in the late 1800's. The Journal depicts the Middle East as it was then—a time of colonization by Europeans and the dominance of the Ottoman Empire. Written as a means to document a world that the Grandfather does not believe will survive intact for future generations. The Journal also serves as a record of his Pilgrimage or Hajj to Mecca, which is the ultimate expression of his faith. The Journal is serious but joyful in tone, relating details of current and past times, and a culture that the Grandfather fears is on the brink of being destroyed. His purpose in writing is to record the beauty, the splendor and the history of this changing world, serving as an important lesson for generations to come.
Sharif is a young Arab whom Sam meets outside of the Masjeed-e Nabawee in Medina. They have an instant connection and Sam asks Sharif to be his guide as he completes his pilgrimage to Mecca. Sharif acts not only as a guide for Sam, but also as a mirror of who he may have become if his family had not left the Middle East so many generations ago. Similar in age and interests, Sam and Sharif's new friendship provides an ideal medium through which to experience the similarities and differences of their cultures by connecting the modern world to the ancient past.