Jun 28 2005

Muslim-US Diplomacy – One Teen at a Time

Published by at June 28, 2005 6:35 am under Cross-cultural Training,Global Culture

Sometimes diplomacy is as simple as a teenager’s smile. In the halls of Falmouth Academy on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, the face of Iraq is Ruba – unveiled and unabashed as she gives out hugs and high-fives.

“I love answering questions,” she says as she nears the end of her year here as a high school junior. “Someone asked if I have a refrigerator. They always ask me why I’m so normal – that’s the best question ever!”

In the Monitor
Tuesday, 06/28/05
Supreme Court splits on Ten Commandments
Internet file-sharing takes a hit
In the south, a bid to loosen Baghdad’s grip
Endangered Species Act under fire from two directions
In Alaska, 68 miles of contentious asphalt

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Along with 10 boys from Iraq and some 400 other high-schoolers from predominantly Muslim countries, Ruba has been studying in the United States through a program the State Department launched in the 2002-03 school year, in response to the fissures of 9/11. It’s one of the modest steps by governments and educators to create a new tide of young ambassadors.

Many connections take the form of letters, e-mails, and joint projects online. As a token of friendship with counterparts in Afghanistan and Iraq, American classrooms have raised money and sent everything from school supplies to candy. But students old enough to travel find that meeting face to face is the quickest way to make stereotypes crumble.

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