US-Arab pen-pal program

Three schools in the US communities most directly affected by the Sept. 11 attacks will pioneer a program linking US elementary-school students and teachers with classes in Islamic nations, President Bush announced last week.

The US schools - Thurgood Marshall Extended Elementary School in Washington, D.C.; Patrick Henry Elementary School in Arlington, Va.; and Mott Hall School in New York City - have been paired, respectively, with Al-Raja Elementary School in Manama, Bahrain; Dawood Public School in Karachi, Pakistan; and Abbass El Akkad Experimental Language School in Cairo, Egypt.

The partnerships are being promoted and facilitated by "Friendship Through Education," a new consortium of government, nongovernmental, and private-sector leaders devoted to facilitating expanded links between US students and students in countries with large Muslim populations, including Egypt, Indonesia, Qatar, Pakistan, Turkey, Bahrain, and Afghan refugee camps.

Friendship Through Education is encouraging the schools to establish a relationship in two ways:

• An E-Mail PenPals program that will allow paired students to exchange notes in an effort to better understand each other's countries and cultures.

• A Laws of Life Project that will invite young people to submit essays describing the rules, ideals, and principles by which they live.

The consortium will also provide information on linking students through letters, art, and other collaborative projects. These opportunities will be promoted by a new Friendship Through Education website.

Schools interested in participating in these projects should visit the website to register their interest in connecting with another class.

The Web address is:

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