Posted by Alex on Friday, August 14th, 2009
(posted by Alex)
What would lay American citizens—not members of the media, analysts, or representatives of the U.S. government—think of Syria if they had the opportunity to visit it? How, if at all, would their experiences alter their perceptions of Syrian citizens, culture, and politics? What would they learn and what could they teach to their Syrian counterparts?
Greg Cohen shares his excitement at discussing his Jewish origin with the Grand Mufti of Damascus and of his enjoying the company of his “warm, outgoing, and hospitable” Syrian hosts on his numerous excursions. Nick Jaeger reveals the difficulty of personally addressing and debunking the political stereotypes that precede him in Syria on account of US foreign policy. Rima Abdelkader shares her findings on Syria’s public university system after meeting Damascus University President Dr. Wael Moualla.
These thoughts (or posts rather) are currently being collected on the American MidEast Leadership Network’s Virtual Scrapbook, a daily events blog and online collection of photographs and audio-visual clips gathered by participants of AMLN’s United States-Syria Grassroots Diplomacy Program. Now in its third year, the three-week cultural exchange run by the New York- based nonprofit organization affords American students and young professionals the opportunity to meet face-to-face with their Syrian counterparts to address misconceptions between them and to form a bridge of understanding at the citizen level.
Follow more adventures of these Citizen Diplomats as they engage in dialogue sessions with their Syrian counterparts, meet officials, visit Syria’s cities and historical sites, and immerse themselves in Syrian culture.