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YES Program Affects Children of 9/11

YES Program Affects Children of 9/11

Redbook Magazine explores the impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States on the events 10 year annivarsary. As part of its articles, Redbook Magazine interviewed Marouane Ouslati, a YES student from Tunisia and his host sister, Adele Block. Please see below for excerpts from the article. To see the whole story, please click here

"IT'S SO IMPORTANT TO LEARN EACH OTHER'S CULTURES."

High schoolers Marouane Oueslati and Adeli Block met through the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program, which was established by the State Department after 9/11 to help foster a better relationship between Muslims and Americans. Marouane is from Tunisia but spent last spring living with Adeli's family while studying at the Robert E. Lee high school in Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C.

"When I heard about this exchange program from my mom, I couldn't believe that I'd get the chance to come to America. I had never left Tunisia, and my father was worried that, as an Arab Muslim, I wouldn't fit in. When I arrived, I didn't expect to see so much diversity here — while I was the only Tunisian at my new school, I wasn't the only Muslim, and I never felt marginalized."

"I want to share my experience with my family and friends back home and tell them that not all Americans are against Arabs or Islam. I did get some crazy questions from classmates, like, 'Does your dad have four wives?' But these stereotypes gave me a chance to explain what Islam is all about. I still have to finish my last two years of high school in Tunisia, but I'm definitely applying to colleges in the United States, because it's an amazing place where you can study whatever you want and follow your dreams." — MAROUANE OUESLATI

"My family has hosted exchange students for years now. When Marouane came to live with us, some mean kids would ask me, 'How's it living with a terrorist in your house?' I realized a lot of people are so closed-minded, but with Marouane's help, I think we got our classmates to be more accepting of other cultures, because once they met him, they realized he's a teenager just like us. I plan to major in Middle Eastern studies in college, and while Marouane was here, he helped me practice Arabic. After college, I want to join the Peace Corps and work in Arabic-speaking countries, continuing to create a better relationship between Muslims and Americans." — ADELI BLOCK

Redbook Magazine, September 9, 2011