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Year in U.S. shifts Muslim teens' views

Brian Knowlton writes in the The International Herald Tribune about the success of exchange programs. Some prejudices are overcome, while others remain instead of being questioned as well:

Bush administration efforts to improve attitudes toward the United States among Muslims around the world have met with sharp, bipartisan criticism here as inadequate, even nave. But student-exchange programs have provided a notable exception. The State Department-sponsored Youth Exchange and Study Program, started in response to the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, appears to have had positive results.

(...) "Before, I thought the Americans were like the Europeans - no religion, no moral values, taking drugs, having sex, drinking all the time," said Sirine, an earnest 17-year-old Tunisian who stayed with an Atlanta-area family. "But my opinion changed. I found people going to church a lot, and some are really conservative."

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Doreen on :

Well, I am glad that this program seems to enhance these kids' awareness of the merits of "good Americans", especially in comparison to the truly hellish Europeans. Better not expose them to any deviant New Yorkers, say, or people from San Francisco ...

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