Mideast-Midwest Exchange: Students From Aqaba, Jordan to Visit Chicago

Aug 03, 2005, 01:00 ET from Counterpart International

    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