Some Westerville Central High School English as a Second Language students want people to know they are like everyone else.

Mohammed Al Ibraheem, president of the after-school ESL Central Voice club, said a recent video the club made, "We the People," was meant to show others that they're no different from their peers.

The mission of the group that formed this year is to promote understanding and friendship between people from diverse cultural backgrounds and to be a bridge to the wider school community through activities and events.

The members made a 15-minute documentary, explaining the isolation they felt and the challenges of fitting in at a high school while learning a new language and culture.

The video premiered at a Central Arts Alive event, where school board President Rick Vilardo saw it and advocated it be shown at the board's May 22 meeting.

He said it moved him to tears.

"Our idea was to show the people that we're like them," Al Ibraheem said. "We're no different. A lot of students saw it and they changed. The teachers also changed the way they talked to us."

The video can be viewed on the Westerville City School District's YouTube site, youtube.com/watch?v=HatsilPEKNE.

The students in the club come from Kenya, Palestine, Peru, Somalia, Syria, Thailand and Yemen.

Al Ibraheem, who is from Syria, said he'll never forget what happened in his homeland.

"I was there during the war," he said. "A lot of bad things happened to me."

One of those experiences involved a sniper who killed a friend.

"When I see my friends here and go out with them, it makes me forget some of it," Al Ibraheem said.

"I can't forget everything that happened to me. When I see people being mean to us, it makes me sad.

"I lost my country because of the war. Even with the war, I had a good life because people respected our family," he said.

Al Ibraheem said he has experienced disrespect in the United States because of where he came from.

"People judge," he said. "That's the idea of the film -- to make them know what happened to us and why we're here."

He said he would like to attend college in New York in the future, and he hopes to become a surgeon.

Al Ibraheem said he would eventually like to return to Syria to help people.

Another student who appears in the documentary is Fadumo Adan of Somalia, who said a civil war in her country has lasted for 20 years.

Depending where one lives, she said, it's controlled by either the government or the Al-Shabaab.

"So if it's the government, you have a good life -- (better) than the other places, where the Al-Shabaab people control."

If someone would ask her in a nice way why is she here, Adan said, an answer is deserved.

"And my answer would be I am here like many other kids who are immigrants who escaped their country because of civil war, hunger and diseases ... in search of a bright future. That would be my answer for them," she said.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla