Local author, photographer to share her experiences of living in Syria

BRISTOL — The violence of the years-long civil war in Syria has been featured in much of the news from that Middle Eastern country, but what of the Syrian people themselves?
Addison County resident Deborah Harte Felmeth was immersed in the daily life of Syria for two decades as a part-time resident. Last year she published a book on the people of Syria, and next Thursday evening she will share her observations on the fabric of Syrian culture and her photographs from the historic land in a “One World Library” talk at the Lawrence Memorial Library in Bristol.
A Vermont resident since 1978, Felmeth works professionally as a piano and voice teacher, yoga instructor, and healer. She is also a musician, singer, weaver, gardener, and avid photographer.
She found her way to Damascus in 1991 and fell in love with Syria and her heart never left. From 1996 until Syria’s recent upheaval and the heartbreaking tragedy of war, Felmeth and her husband divided their time equally between a beloved apartment above Straight Street in the Old City of Damascus, Syria, and their equally beloved home in the Green Mountain State.
She created her book, “Syria–Remember Me,” as a testament to the beauty, strength and diversity of the Syrian people.
The land of Syria is diverse; it stretches from the fertile Euphrates River Valley to the wide-open expanse of the great Syrian Desert. The human mark on that land is also diverse, from the maze of overflowing markets to the spacious interiors of gold-domed mosques.
“Syria–Remember Me” bears witness in words and images to the strong, dignified, beautiful and complex lives of the Syrian people. The 200 photographs in this collection were taken between 1991 and 2011 and precede the war.
In the book, Felmeth hopes to give readers a more humanizing encounter than popular news coverage as they turn the pages and gaze into eyes of Syrians young and old, humble and proud, engaged in the simple miracle of living an ordinary day and a life lived in peace. The photographs have been described as compassionate and nuanced, chronicling Syria’s social mosaic with beauty and spontaneity.
“With the publication of this book I hope to encourage active peace making,” Felmeth said. “Remembering is an act, in this case an act of courage and creation, founded upon seeing, knowing and feeling … In sharing these photographs, it is my intention to honor each and every one pictured and to remember through them their ancestors, a great people who have given much to the civilized world in honor, dignity, and the grace of their bearing.”
Felmeth’s talk at Bristol’s Lawrence Library will take place on Thursday, March 17, at 7 p.m. The library is at 40 North St., a few blocks north of Main Street.
Copies of Felmeth’s book will be available for purchase and signing at the event.
For more information on the program, contact the Lawrence Memorial Library at 453-2366 or go to www.OneWorldLibraryProject.org. The One World Library Project is a nonprofit that “Brings the World to our Community” through a collection of adult and children’s books and films about world cultures at the Lawrence Memorial Library in Bristol.

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