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 industry. "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 organizations. The successful implementation of the JUSTDEED program will produce a more diverse curriculum in both Chicago and Aqaba, benefiting students in both areas. 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 http://www.counterpart.org. CONTACT: Bevan Springer of Counterpart International, +1-202-296-9676, firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE Counterpart International