CHICAGO, Aug. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- This month families in Chicago will open
their homes to students from Aqaba on the Red Sea in Jordan in a ten day
cultural and educational exchange, designed to boost the information
technology skills of young Jordanians while building understanding between the
American and Middle Eastern communities involved.
The innovative program, launched by the US State Department and the non-
profit development agency, Counterpart International, aims to expose Jordanian
students and teachers to IT skills and to the English language. Jordanian
students will stay with nine Midwest families of Jordanian descent.
Such skills are highly sought after in the burgeoning tourism industry
which draws international visitors to the beaches and clear diving waters of
the Red Sea. Jordan, a key Middle East ally of the U.S. which shares borders
with Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria and West Bank, attracts so many
visitors each year that tourism is now the desert kingdom's most important
"It's a brilliant program which advances needed skills while fostering a
closer understanding between American and Jordanian communities," says Lelei
LeLaulu, Counterpart's President. "And Chicago is ideal because there is a
dynamic and generous Jordanian Diaspora flourishing in that region."
Counterpart worked closely with the Jordan-U.S. Teams for Development in
Education (JUSTDEED) to create the linkages with Jordan. Students will build
relationships not only through these school-to-school pairings, but also
through book clubs, e-buddy communications and establishing local parent-
teacher associations to help parents become more active in the academic lives
of their children, an identified need among schools in the desert kingdom.
Meanwhile, Counterpart has set up a pipeline of resources between the
communities to bring greater technical resources to the students' home
educational institutions in Aqaba. Counterpart expects to eventually transfer
ownership and administration of the exchange program to local schools and
The successful implementation of the JUSTDEED program will produce a more
diverse curriculum in both Chicago and Aqaba, benefiting students in both
The students will visit from August 3 to 14, and will see Chicago's Adler
Planetarium & Astronomy Museum, local schools, participate in sight-seeing
outings, and enjoy an American barbecue. Following their visit, three Chicago
area teachers will return with the group to Jordan to complete the cultural
and educational exchange.
For further information about Counterpart International, visit
CONTACT: Bevan Springer of Counterpart International, +1-202-296-9676,
SOURCE Counterpart International