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State Department urges U.S. families to host Muslim students to make amends for 9/11 & understand why they hate us

State Department official Persiko warns terrorists "You can't qualify on the program...if you want to come over here and wreak havoc "
June 6, 2005

MIM: State Department Youth Exchange program director Robert Persiko warned 9/11 hijacker wannabes that ; that "You can't qualify on the program if you're a firebrand and you want to come over here and wreak havoc."

Which begs the question which one commentator sent to MIM:

"Is there an exchange program where Americans go to Arab countries to learn about honor killings and how to run a polygamous household, or is all the traffic one way?"

The State Department's humor doesn't only extend to radical Islamists. They offer fun games on their Youth website like this one, in which the Great Seal 'gets lost', and could be viewed as an apt allusion to their penchant for funding the influx of as many Muslims as possible into the United States .

Maze puzzle for the Great Seal: In 1776, three of the men who drafted the Declaration of Independence (Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson) were asked to create the Great Seal. It was finalized 6 years later through the combined efforts of 14 men on June 20, 1782.

MIM: Help! Pat, your passport pal, lost the Great Seal! Help Pat find it by drawing a path through a maze

The only thing missing is an Arabic translation and the warning: "Don't try this one at Homeland Security".


MIM: The U.S. State Department explains that Americans should pay for Muslims to come to US for a year of study to make amends for 9/11 and beg forgiveness for making them hate us...'

"...After September 11, the United States was confronted with a harsh reality; many people of the Islamic world dislike American government policies and distrust America's intentions..." ...As Americans we need to understand this climate, and do our part to bridge the gap.." Program description

"The whole aim is that American families have so much to offer" : Robert Persiko State Dept. Chief of Youth Programs and Educational and Cultural Affairs.

MIM: According to a 2004 Tampa Tribune article; "Congress has allocated $8 million for the scholarship program this year, and the State Department has asked for $10 million next year, Persiko said.

(left) Basem Ahmed A Sabri,15, of Yemen and (right) Hassan Hohsin,15, of Pakistan were students in the United States and have since returned to their native country. Joan Soderqvist placed them last year.

MIM: Lucky for Skul Abdulkadir that he wrote "I think my future in the U.S. will be better then in Iraq", and that he liked cars and basketball. If Muslim applicants who stated that they want to come to the US to wreak havoc' would be refused entry as a result, CAIR would have contacted the State Department and threatened a discrimination lawsuit, while demanding they be placed in an Islamist host family.

MIM: Should the Muslim students who are being hosted in America encounter any perceived injustice or slight, and be in need of some quick cash, this CAIR course on Hate Crimes 101 would come in handy. It wouldn't come as a surprise if the State Department were to fund an event like this as part of the exchange program.

Hate Crimes: Define and Act - CAIR Chicago

WHEN: Sunday, June 12, 2005, 2-4 p.m.
WHERE: Muslim Community Center, 4380 N Elston Avenue, Chicago

SPEAKERS: Christina Abraham (CAIR-Chicago), Jacob Overton (FBI), Diana Lin (Chicago Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law)

Expert Speakers will address:
* What is a hate crime?
* How do I know if I am a victim of a hate crime?
* What do I do if I am exposed to a hate crime?

MIM: In an article about the program last year CAIR FL spokesman Ahmed Bedier praised the initiative and said; "We need more of them..." See article below " Few U.S. Hosts welcome Muslims".


Help Build Bridges of Understanding between the U.S. and Muslim Societies: Host a High School Scholar from the Arab World

Partnerships for Learning, Youth Exchange and Study Program (P4L-YES) is a program sponsored by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to provide scholarships for secondary school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend up to one academic year in the U.S. The students live with host families, attend school, and engage in activities to learn about American society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate Americans about their countries and cultures. Upon their return the students will apply their leadership skills at home. A goal of this program is to reach a younger audience in the partner countries and to engage in dialogue that promotes mutual understanding and respect. It will build on the values we hold in common with Muslim societies, strengthen voices of moderation, reinforce U.S. commitment to education and opportunity, and provide a platform for a positive dialogue. YES students are selected because they exhibit leadership qualities and an interest in promoting understanding between people of different social, ethnic and religious backgrounds. The goals of the YES program are as follows:

To promote international security and peace by educating American and foreign participants about each other and about international issues, thereby alleviating misunderstandings.

YES students acquire an understanding of American values, the qualities of leadership, and important elements of a civil society. This includes concepts such as civic responsibility/ volunteerism, the idea that American citizens can and do act on their own to deal with societal problems, and an awareness of and respect for the rule of law.

After September 11, the United States was confronted with a harsh reality; many people of the Islamic world dislike American government policies and distrust America's intentions. As Americans we need to understand this climate, and do our part to bridge the gap. The YES program is vital to expanding communication between the people of the United States and the partner countries in the interest of promoting mutual understanding and respect.

Nacel Open Door, a non-profit leader in student exchange, has partnered with the Department of State and several other organizations in bringing these students into the U.S. for this program. Yet, we are reliant upon the good will of host families and school officials to accept and welcome them into local communities. Therefore we are seeking volunteer host families in your area to partner with us in our mission of promoting mutual understanding and respect between different cultures. The students are between the ages of 15 and 18. They speak fluent English and are very carefully screened. They come with their own spending money and insurance. Host families are responsible for providing room and board and should be willing to open their hearts and minds to this unique culture and assist the students in having a wonderful experience. Local representatives are there to assist the host family, student and school throughout the year to support everyone through the experience and help facilitate a resolution should any problems arise. If you would like more information or are interested in hosting a YES student, please contact [email protected]t, call 1-888-487-0220 or visit our website at We also have fantastic students from over 50 other countries to host as well.

For more information, please contact:

Brenda Gray
Nacel Open Door
Network Director
2534 W. Red Fox Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85085
623-487-0220 - wk
888-487-0220 - toll free
623-487-0550 - fax

Few U.S. Hosts want to host Muslim Students
The 16-year-old plays football and basketball and likes driving cars. He wants to be an engineer or physician. He has three sisters and three brothers.

Shko Bakir Abdulkadir, a Kurd who lives in Irbil, a city in northeastern Iraq, is one of hundreds of students from countries with significant Muslim populations who is looking for a host family in the United States.

"I think my future in [the] U.S. will be better than in Iraq," he writes in his application to Youth Exchange and Study, a high school scholarship program sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

However, agencies that work with exchange students, like ASSE International, are having trouble finding U.S. families willing to host students such as Shko. "Being Middle Eastern and also being Muslim is a real challenge for placing children," said Joan Soderqvist, ASSE's state coordinator for Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.

Stephanie and Jamie Tasker, who live in Live Oak, about 25 miles from Lake City, hosted a student from Pakistan last school year.

Stephanie Tasker understands the hesitation families might feel.

"It's not a hate thing," she said. "It's fear. They think, `My God, Sept. 11, we're at war.' They're stereotyping the whole country. But these people are just like we are."

From Soderqvist's Brooksville home, she successfully has coordinated the search for families to host four Muslim high school students in ASSE's southern region. They will arrive this summer. None of their host families are within 150 miles of the Tampa area.

She has 11 teenagers to place by Aug. 4. Nationwide, ASSE will place about 100 Muslim students this year, in addition to teenagers from other countries.

A host mom for almost 30 years to students from all over the world, Soderqvist wishes families would listen to people like the Taskers.

At first, Jamie Tasker, 36, didn't want a student from a Muslim country. He changed his mind after being persuaded by his wife. Khurram Zaidi spent last school year with the Taskers and their four children.

Khurram, who turned 16 during his 10-month stay, went to Suwannee High School, attended church with the family and joined the youth group. Stephanie Tasker adjusted to Khurram's dietary habits, such as the type of meat he's allowed to eat, by traveling to an Indian store in Gainesville, about 62 miles away, to buy groceries.

"It turns out, he was just a great kid and he fit right in," said Jamie Trasker. "He just kind of made himself at home."

The Taskers' 15-year-old son, also named Jamie, said Khurram became like a brother.

"He was a Muslim, I'm a Christian, but it was cool. We got to talking. We never got into any debates and stuff," said the teen. "I tried to be open- minded."

Khurram is back in Pakistan and the Tasker family keeps in touch by e-mail.

"Forever, he's in my heart," said Stephanie Tasker, 37, who signs her e-mails, "Love, MOM."

One Family At A Time

The scholarship program for Muslim students, in its second year, was started after Sept. 11, 2001, to build understanding between people in Arab and Islamic countries and the United States.

Last year, 160 students from 12 countries, including the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas of Israel, were placed with U.S. families, said Robert Persiko, chief of the Youth Programs Division at the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affaris.

This year, about 480 students from 21 countries, including the Gaza Strip and West Bank areas of Israel, will come to the United States. Next year the program hopes to bring 600 students.

Congress has allocated $8 million for the scholarship program this year, and the State Department has asked for $10 million next year, Persiko said.

"It's an incredible opportunity to build friendships one family at a time," he said. "The whole aim is that American families have so much to offer."

Applicants ages 15 to 18 take a written test, go through one or two interviews and undergo background screenings.

"You can't qualify on the program if you're a firebrand and you want to come over here and wreak havoc," Persiko said.

Then the State Department works to find the students homes through agencies such as ASSE International, Sister Cities International, America- Mideast Educational Training Services Inc., AYUSA International Global Youth Exchange, and the International Education and Resource Network.

Once in the United States, the students get a $300 start- up fee and $125 a month. Host families don't get monetary compensation.

Ahmed Bedier, Florida communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said student exchange programs are a good step toward changing the way the United States is viewed overseas, especially in Muslim countries.

"Eventually, those students will be the leaders of those countries," Bedier said. "They're the future generations."

The council, a Washington D.C.-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, strives to build bridges between Muslims and others.

"Once you actually interact with individuals, you figure out, `Hey, they're just like me. They eat and they sleep just like me,' " Bedier said. "These kind of programs are important, and I think we need more of them."

The elder Jamie Tasker said more U.S. families, even if they're leery at first, should give the students a chance.

"I would encourage other people to educate themselves about other countries and about their way of life and open their hearts and minds to the idea and be willing to accept the differences," Tasker said. "Because there are differences. And they're not that hard to overcome."

Reporter Monica Scandlen can be reached at (727) 815-1084.



For information on the Youth Exchange and Study scholarship program for Muslim students, call cq1-800-473-0696.


MIM: Doing the math $ 300 'start up fee' (does that include the CAIR Know Your Rights manual?) plus $125 a month with 3 hots and cot. America then gets this lesson in Islam in exchange :

"...Muslim girls wear a head cover because Islamic religion is one of the main religions in my country. Muslim girls and women are prohibited from going out in public without a head cover..."

Meet Foreign Exchange Students - Nigeria: Maryam

My name is Maryam. I am an exchange student from Kaduna, Nigeria, in Western Africa. The exchange program that brought me here is Partnership for Learning, Youth Exchange and Study (P4L-YES).

Making the decision to being an exchange student in the United States is the best thing I have ever done for myself. At first, I was not sure what it would be like here in a different country, and totally different from my own life. Before I came, I thought I would find it very difficult to live here and get along with the people because of the cultural differences from my hometown in Nigeria. Things were better than I expected. I was surprised to see how the people opened up to me and were so kind. They never deprived me of anything or treated me unfairly because I am not like them or from their country. I am the only one with dark a complexion in the community I live, which is in Iowa.

I have learned about Americans and their government. I am very impressed with the system of government and its role in the communities, which is different from what I have at home. The rule that says every child is entitled to have an education whether you are rich or poor is one of the rules that have impressed me a lot. It is very different from where I came from. In my country, the system is different. Our parents pay for our school fees and our guidance. Our government offers scholarships to poor children but not every one that cannot afford paying school fees gets a scholarship. You will find many children who are willing to go to school and be educated, but because they cannot afford the fees, they aren't allowed to attend school. This affects them and their future. The U.S. system of making sure children attend school until high school is one of the most interesting things I have experienced.

Life is full of experiences, but I didn't realize that until I came here and met different people, lifestyles, foods, and even how people dress. Nigerians have a mode of cultural dressing. There are over two hundred and fifty ethnic groups in Nigeria, each with different language and mode of dressing. Most of the girls dress in cotton fabrics locally sewn by a tailor. Muslim girls wear a head cover because Islamic religion is one of the main religions in my country. Muslim girls and women are prohibited from going out in public without a head cover.

I have learned a lot -and I am still learning everyday. I will always thank the U.S. Government for giving me this opportunity.


Onsite Media Contact Dane Estes, DDB Bass & Howes, 206-447-1207, 206-335-0818 (mobile), [email protected]

Sister Cities International Media Contact: Ami Neiberger-Miller, Communications Director, 202-347-4876, [email protected].


Boulder, Colo., February 24, 2004 -A group of 67 teenagers from predominately Islamic countries will join local youth and elected officials at the first-ever Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Leadership Summit February 26-29.

Hailing from Gaza, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria, West Bank, Tunisia and Yemen, the students live with U.S. host families and attend high schools in 56 urban, suburban, and rural communities. The YES program is overseen by a consortium of five partnering organizations.

Organized by Sister Cities International, the summit is the first time all 67 teens will be together since journeying to the U.S. six months ago. Their visit to the mountain state will include an interactive leadership jam and a team-building ropes course challenge. The Boulder Valley School District will provide key support, arranging host families and transportation, as well as meeting space.

A roundtable discussion with U.S. Rep. Mark Udall and government officials at the Boulder-Dushanbe Teahouse will highlight key leadership learnings. "The leadership conference is important because it can give the students tools to use to make their work as citizen ambassadors and future leaders more effective," said Robert Persiko, Chief of the Youth Programs Division, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), U.S. State Department. "Everyone hopes that the YES participants of today will play valuable leadership roles in their countries in the future."

It's about building relationships at the grassroots level, say organizers. "YES is a breakthrough program, which will serve as a model for a variety of exchange programs to help build bridges between the U.S. and the Muslim world," said Craig Brown, vice president of corporate development with AYUSA.

"I am strongly supportive of the YES Program and am excited to be a part of the Summit," said Persiko, who will join the leadership roundtable. He said that the program provides students with the opportunity to form their own opinions of the U.S. Together with their American host families and classmates, they learn about shared values and more clearly understand cultural differences.

"Our young people are our greatest resource and our future, and building peace requires an investment in new generations of young people around the world," Rep. Udall said. "By helping international youth learn the value of working together to solve problems, break down barriers and mistrust and avoid the cultural misunderstandings that have plagued their parents' generation, the YES Program - in my opinion - is the right kind of investment for us to be making."

The ECA sponsors the program, which provides full scholarships to secondary school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend up to one academic year in the U.S. The students are required to conduct presentations on their home countries to student groups, and are asked to give back to their host communities through service projects. They will return home in May 2004.

The YES Program was approved in 2003 by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to conduct youth exchange with predominantly Islamic countries and the United States. A consortium of partners lead by AYUSA International cooperates with ECA and U.S. embassies to recruit students from Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, the West Bank, and Yemen.

Due to the early success of the YES Program, the consortium hopes to expand its rosters to 240 students for the 2004-2005 academic year.

About Consortium Partners
ASSE International Student Exchange Programs was founded by the Swedish Ministries of Education in the 1930's and reincorporated in the U.S. in 1976. With AYUSA, ASSE shares responsibilities for host family and school placement, student support and administration and coordination of local orientation and enhancement activities. ASSE is based in Laguna Beach, Calif.

AMIDEAST America-Mideast Educational and Training Services and Training Services is the largest, most experienced private American non-profit organization promoting understanding and cooperation between Americans and the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa. Headquartered in
Washington, DC, AMIDEAST is responsible for in-country recruitment, selection and preparation of YES students, as well as alumni tracking and follow-on activities.

AYUSA International is a non-profit high school exchange organization headquartered in San Francisco, Calif. Since 1980, AYUSA has provided opportunities for more than 40,000 students from the U.S. and around the world, and now operates in 75 different countries. As consortium lead, AYUSA has overall responsibility for a portion of the YES program, including oversight of programming, grant accounting, reporting and ensuring the program vision is developed, strengthened and realized. AYUSA has administered 15 grants for the U.S. Department of State.

iEARN International Education and Resource Network is the world's largest K-12 project-based, internet-supported learning network, which since 1992 has pioneered programs to schools in Muslim countries. Based in New York, iEARN's responsibilities include electronic interconnection of schools in the U.S. and overseas, content and materials development, on-site workshops and on-line courses. iEARN also conducts participant recruitment, screening, and selection in Pakistan.

Sister Cities International (SCI) was proposed in 1956 by President Eisenhower to build bridges of understanding between international communities. Sister Cities' responsibilities include host family referrals, building new sister city pairings between U.S. and YES student home communities, and conducting the youth leadership summit in Boulder.


This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at