A group of South Asian delegates visited Reno in February under the auspices of the State Department program for International Visitors. While in Reno, they were hosted for dinner at the home of Dr. Muhammed Quddus. Mr. Quddus has this to say about hosting the delegates:
”I thank NNIC for the opportunity to meet and greet some of the brightest legal minds of the Indian subcontinent countries. The best part was to get a feel for the unadulterated warmth of these exceptional human beings. Although I was born in Bangladesh, I never had the opportunity to visit these countries; this was my first instance of looking in the eyes of these native people, shake hands with them and identify with them. We truly enjoyed their company and I think they enjoyed ours.”
Three women delegates traveling under the auspices of the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program spoke with a Model United Nations class at the University of Nevada on Tuesday, March 13. The women, who are political leaders from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and India, engaged in a lively discussion with the American students.
Ms. HALIMA, Deputy Provincial Council Chair, Wardak Province said, “We don’t have freedom in Afghanistan. Being a woman is very challenging in my country.” And she noted further, “the problem in our countries is not Islam. Islam has given women many rights. It’s our cultural traditions that make life difficult for us.”
Ms. Bhuvaneswari SARGUNAM, General Secretary, Indian Youth Congress, Thanjavur Parliamentary Constituency, Tamil Nadu noted that education is the key to making significant improvements in the lives of girls and women worldwide.
Algerian Youth Leadership Program: Voices from
From 2009-2011, the International Center was awarded the Algeria Youth Leadership Program (AYLP) through the US Department of State, a five-week summer leadership program for American and Algerian youth. For the 2012 Global Gala, we hosted an essay competition for the American participants, asking them to describe how their participation in the program impacted their lives. The winning essay was written by Carlos Kovac, participant of AYLP 2009. Below is his essay. Please visit our American Applicants page for the other great essays.
“In the Eyes of Another
“Hijacker! Terrorist! Bomber!” The controversies that arose after 911 geared a vast majority of my views to look upon Muslims as “the enemy.” The actions of a small portion of Muslims led to the perception that all Muslims were of malicious, destructive mentalities. It is discernable that there was a huge tension created anytime someone mentioned the words Muslim, hijacker, 911, or Islam. Muslims were not only deemed to be inferior individuals, but were also shunned within American society.
The Algerian Youth Leadership program aimed to change the perspectives of young Americans that may have fallen as victims to societal views after 911. It aimed to unite the divisive lines that have been drawn since the occurrence of that horrendous event, while simultaneously breaking stereotypes that influence our perspectives of others. By connecting American and Algerian teenagers with one another, this program aimed toward turning individual’s naïve outlooks, into educated awareness of others.
Upon meeting the Algerian participants, I was dumbfounded. The characteristics that I had placed on Muslims were proven wrong: I had this misperception of them as being a completely different species of a human being. How could it be that they were just like me? How was it that I related to them in so many more ways than I ever thought would be possible? Through my development of friendships with people that I may have categorized in the past as “terrorists,” I was not only able to learn about others, but I was able to discover certain traits within myself, further maturing my mind. I saw the world from different eyes, walked atop the ground with different shoes. I was able to feel the pain and agony of being judged, which they experience because of something as simple as a scarf resting on their head. I then too felt the stares that they experience. In the past I had never considered how they felt, nor did I consider their point of view.
After I participated in AYLP, I no longer saw race, color, religious views, or ethnicity as relevant factors that define a person, rather I just saw people. I saw human beings that are of equal importance. I developed a skill I had never discovered before; the inquiry of society and its views. Through my experience, I was able to see that by making generalizations of people, I was missing out on discovering
the beauty that lies behind the differences and imperfections that people may possess. I came to the realization that If we keep going down this road we are going to miss out not only on potential friendships, but also on the diversification of our minds, which is truly an important part of becoming a better human being. The Algerian Youth Leadership program taught me that as young leaders, the responsibility is upon us to stop this indirect belittlement and inequality that goes on everyday not only toward Muslims, but toward all people.”
–Carlos Kovac, AYLP 2009 – Essay Contest Winner