On Monday, Feb. 18, three exchange students from the Middle East will participate in a public forum at the Northern Light United Church. They are attending high school in Juneau on scholarships provided by the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study Program (YES). They will talk about their culture, share some of their Juneau experiences, and discuss their role as student ambassadors for their countries.
The YES program is funded by grants administered by the State Department and focuses on student diplomacy between the United States and 38 countries that have significant Muslim populations. The program was created by congressional legislation following the events of September 11, 2001. YES is intended to encourage participating youth, their teachers and parents, and community leaders to engage in bridge building conversations that will promote increased understanding and tolerance between cultures. This is the second year the Juneau People for Peace and Justice have sponsored YES students in Juneau.
The students -- Hadi, Mohammad and Ayah -- are from Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine (Gaza), respectively, all countries that have a central role in the current-day conflicts in the Middle East. While traveling halfway around the world to attend high school in Alaska, it also the first opportunity they have had to learn about life in the neighboring countries.
Muslim Student Ambassadors in Juneau is co-sponsored by the Juneau People for Peace and Justice and Northern Light United Church. The event begins at 7 p.m. and will followed by a desert potluck during which the students will be available for informal conversations.
Contact Rich Moniak at 957-1956 or Judith Maier at 789-922) for more information.