Student exchange promotes cultural understanding


This statement is in response to Craig Buchanan’s letter of July 10 regarding Muslims’ influence within the United States, Walla Walla and U.S. airlines.

Our family has volunteered for two years now to host Muslim exchange students through AFS, a 60-year-old intercultural, nonprofit program promoting cross-cultural understanding between cultures in more than 40 countries.

It is mainly comprised of volunteers. The students’ full scholarship, referred to in the letter, consist mainly of a plane ticket and a small monthly stipend. Moreover, the exchange program also benefits our American students who serve abroad as “youth ambassadors” of the United States, promoting mutual understanding, attending local high schools, acquiring leadership skills and learning about the host country’s society and values.

Furthermore, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton cannot take credit for this wonderful program. The YES program, an extension of AFS, was established in 2002 by Congress, during the Bush administration, in response to the events of 9/11. It is a bipartisan program enacted by Republican Sen. Richard Lugar and Democrat Sen. Ted Kennedy.

The Lugar-Kennedy YES Abroad program is administered in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and by a consortium of nonprofit organizations led by the American Councils for International Education. Similar exchange programs were enacted after World War II to promote understanding and peaceful relations with Russia.

As we recognize that not all Muslims are terrorists, likewise, our foreign exchange students also learn that not all Christians endorsed the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Holocaust, slavery, the treatment of the Native Americans, the Jim Crow laws, etc.

Finally, I would encourage people to broaden their horizons and check out the top 10 friendliest countries toward tourists. Almost half of them are Muslim countries.

Last year, our family vacationed in Morocco — number three on the list of friendliest countries — and visited our exchange student’s family. Their hospitality and kindness were unsurpassed. And yes, the airline crew, the pilots, security personnel and the majority of the passengers were Muslim. We had the most amazing and unforgettable travel experience.

Our third exchange student will arrive soon. She will go to Wa-Hi with our daughter Mimi. She is from Thailand — and she is Muslim.

Edith Liebrand

Walla Walla



MyFamNews says...

Thank you, Edith.. Well said.

Posted 13 July 2013, 10:59 a.m. Suggest removal

fatherof5 says...

Thank you, Edith, for your clarity and civility. This letter showed a lot of class.

Posted 13 July 2013, 1:12 p.m. Suggest removal

VinoTinto says...

It was always exciting to meet the foreign exchange students each year, and sad to see them go.

Posted 13 July 2013, 6:33 p.m. Suggest removal

namvet60 says...

Maybe all the critics of Mr. Buchanan's letter should gather their critiques's and send them to the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing?

Posted 14 July 2013, 11:39 a.m. Suggest removal

chicoli says...

There he goes again! Namvet's anachronistic and insensitive inuendos should be rejected by all of us who belive that respecting Muslims does not contradict our compasion for the victims of the Boston tragedy. His assertions, as usual, are demonstrative of his shallow understanding of the matter at hand. After he finishes his GED ( and a sensitivity training) we should all contribute to send him abroad as an exchange student.

Posted 18 July 2013, 7:01 a.m. Suggest removal

namvet60 says...

Thank you paco for those nice compliments - I definitely appreciate them and look forward to reading them often. You just have a wonderful day.

Posted 18 July 2013, 8:56 a.m. Suggest removal

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