I had the opportunity to spend three weeks in Syria last June. Before I left Columbia, I closely followed the news of the uprisings that were occurring there.
The media and the Obama administration made me believe that the protests taking place were for democracy. However, I was very surprised about how misinformed I was about the situation in Syria.
Upon my arrival, I talked to my cousin, who told me that she had been stranded in the town of Aleppo and was unable to leave because the protesters had become very dangerous, and she feared for her life.
I was told that I would not be able to travel at night because of the armed protesters and their barbaric actions.
I was shocked to hear this because in my previous travels, Syria was quite a safe place. I was able to stay out and travel anywhere I wanted at any time of day.
The demonstrators are mostly people affiliated with a party known as the Muslim Brotherhood, and some are even armed fanatics. Ironically, this group does not believe in democracy, freedom or women's rights.
I saw that the majority of Syrians love and appreciate their president, Bashar al-Assad. While in Syria, I was able to speak to many citizens and get their views on the situation.
I met a taxi driver who told me that because of their president, he is now able to own a house and a car, which was not possible before in Syria because of the lack of loans and credit.
Many Syrian women said they have many rights and unlimited freedom because of the president and his ideas about gender equality.
Finally, I met many college kids who were beyond appreciative for the free college education and the free health care system.
One medical school student told me that she had just finished medical school, and it only cost her parents $84 for all seven years.
At the conclusion of my trip, I witnessed a 2,300-yard flag being made and held by thousands of Syrian citizens, cheering President Assad and showing their support through the streets of Damascus and every city in Syria.
Frankly, it is very apparent why President Assad has so many supporters. He is making it possible for the Syrian people to achieve their dreams.
Rhonda Kaissi was born in Syria, went to college in Lebanon, came to the United States in 1975, became an American citizen in 1976 and moved to Columbia in 1994.