Assimilation is a big issue in German politics these days.
Her self-funded workshop, Improv Without Borders, gathers weekly to let Europeans and refugees do improvisational theater together.
So during this dangerous period, he made a decision about his love life: He wouldn't have one.
He had seen families suffer when their loved ones were arrested.
He has advantages of which most refugees can only dream.
Accepted to a master's program in electrical engineering in a German university, he arrived legally, on a plane, and spent his first year in intense language study.
To make sure he wouldn't be sent back to Syria, he reapplied for a refugee visa. But if one thing is harder in peaceful Berlin than in war-torn Syria, it is navigating the lexicon of relationships. He has gone on outings a Facebook group arranged to introduce refugees and locals.
It took a while, but his life is finally starting to look less rocky. (It was from that group that he learned about Improv Without Borders.) Last year, he fell into a conversation with a German medical student who asked him for his number, and they even went on one date together to see a soccer match with some of her friends. But the spiral of questions can be even more desperate if you're a foreigner.
At their tiny, square table, they look like one more couple on a date.But he tells her he can't seem to translate that relaxed workshop version of himself into ordinary life.So Lierenfeld, 28, offers to give him a flirt coaching session — the chance to brutally break down his game and show him how to improve it.Al-Sweida was then fiercely loyal to President Bashar Assad, and these videos exposed early dissent from within the president's political base.Abulhusn says if government agents had discovered his cameras hidden in pens and watches, he wouldn't be alive today.He liked her — thought she was cute — and she was intensely curious about Syria. But after a couple of exchanges, his texts went unanswered. Abulhusn couldn't help but wonder: Had he done something culturally inappropriate? Despite all his efforts to toe the line, were women associating him with the sexual predator stereotype of refugee men that Germans read about in the news, a trope that got frequent play during this year's presidential election?Doing a postmortem on a date gone bad can be maddening for anyone. The love audit Lierenfeld, the improv teacher, watches Abulhusn become looser and more outgoing week by week.For years in Syria — when Abulhusn went by the name of Abu Techno — he had good friends who were girls, but he avoided getting too serious with them.He had earned his DJ-esque nickname because of his proficiency with the hidden cameras that he used to film uprisings in al-Sweida, his hometown.He values things like mutual respect and honesty and equal rights for women — he was raised to believe that in his Druze community, he says.But in Germany, the simple fact of his virginity will itself prove to be a divide.