Saturday, May 22, 2004

Yesterday I was watching Al-Hurrah TV. They were showing a report about the Iraqi students who were selected in the “Full Bright Program” to finish their higher studies in the USA. This was supposed to be a student exchange program to help Iraqis and Americans get to know each other in a better way and understand each other more, but due to the security problems in Iraq, there were no American students to replace the Iraqi ones.Those students were chosen after competing in 2 seperate exams and those who achieved an average over 85% were selected.

Some of these Iraqi students met with the secretary of state, Mr. Colin Powel and the Iraqi ambassador in the US (Rand Raheem). Al-Hurrah reporter interviewed some of those students (males and females). One of them said, “I knew that America is the most developed and civilized country in the world but when I reached here, I found that life here is far beyond my imaginations. The people are very civilized, smart and yet very polite,simple and warm.”

Another, female student wearing Hijab, said that she was impressed with the life style in the US and that among the things that caught her attention the most, was the way that the officials deal with the people “Simple and transparent” as she put it, then added “That’s, in my opinion, the reason why America is the greatest nation. Now I realize why Arab countries are so far behind.”

I really wish there could be more of those programs and hope that there could be a chance for some American students to come to Iraq too, although I’m aware of the dangers right now. Such programs can open many eyes and help remove so much misunderstanding and distrust that is created by ignorance about the others and facilitated by the pictures that the media convey. I’m sure those Iraqi students, when they come back, will affect at least the way their families and close friends view the American people, and officials as well.

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