Project uses eMail to promote understanding

In an effort to promote global understanding and deter terrorism, President George W. Bush has announced the creation of an eMail exchange program between students from the United States and those in other nations.

At a local elementary school in Washington, D.C., Oct. 25, Bush publicized the formation of “Friendship Through Education,” an initiative that uses the internet to link United States students with students from predominantly Muslim countries to collaborate on projects and share ideas.

To start, three U.S. schools that were directly affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will be linked with schools in Islamic nations. Eventually, at least one school in every state will participate.

“One way to fight evil is with good; you can help by writing letters to boys and girls your age. You can let boys and girls know what you think is important. You can let boys and girls know what your dreams are, and ask them about theirs, too,” Bush said to students at Thurgood Marshall Extended Elementary School.

Students will use eMail to exchange letters and better understand each other’s countries and cultures. They’ll also be encouraged to swap essays, artwork, and participate in collaborative projects. Some of the participating countries include Egypt, Indonesia, Qatar, Pakistan, Turkey, Bahrain, and Afghan refugee camps.

“We’re using our laptop technology to communicate with two schools we’ve been partnered off with in Egypt,” said Mirian Acosta-Sing, principal of Mott Hall School in New York City, another of the first schools to join the project. The third is Patrick Henry Elementary School in Arlington, Va.

“The students kind of see themselves as ambassadors for the United States, so they are taking this quite seriously,” she said.

A consortium of nongovernmental organizations and private companies is making Friendship Through Education possible by identifying schools in Muslim nations to participate, providing internet communications to students, assisting with translations, and facilitating classroom projects.

Educators who’d like to participate can get information and register at the program’s web site,

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