BRIDGE Exchange, May 2005
A group of students from four Lebanese schools - Verona School, Madison Lebanon.
As part of the BRIDGE III program a group of four Lebanese students and one accompanying teacher traveled to the United States of America for a three week physical exchange whereby they lived with host families and participated in regular school life.
Click on the names of the participants on the left to read their feedback.
Here is list of the BRIDGE Exchange participants:Teacher: Ms. Neamat Slueiman, Al-Ahlieh School, Beirut
- Ms. Amani Srour, Al-Abassieh Secondary School, Abassieh
- Mr. Mustapha Azzam, Dr. Nazih Bizri School, Saida
- Mr. Izzat El-Hajj, American Community School, Beirut
- Ms. Maysa Mourad, Universal School of Lebanon, Bterram
iEARN-Lebanon will receive in parallel a group of 4 students and a teacher from the United States who will attend a school in Lebanon and enjoy a homestay in Lebanese homes.
Teacher: Ms. Neamat Slueimantop
Hello iEARNERs all around the world,
It''s easy to talk about daily routines, but the mission gets really harder when one is asked to express his feelings and reaction toward a novel experience.
First of all, thanks iEARN, thanks Bridge Exchange program.
As I was packing my things on the 30th of April, I was indifferent to the experience ahead of me; I started with no idea about how tremendous and massive the exchange program is (though the meeting we had beforehand was very inclusive). The reception at Madison airport was so warm and the host families so welcoming, miss Reget had nuts and nibs in case we were hungry. Next day, we went to school and we were really surprised at how big the high school was. As a teacher, I was impressed at how disciplined the students were in class, and felt really dazzled by the big and wonderfully decorated classes, though very simple and creative.
The curriculum was interesting and different from what we are used to, still many procedures and approaches can be adopted and used here in Lebanon.The extracurricular activities were great, we went canoeing, visited a cave, attended a symphony, enjoyed a day at The Crane Foundation, and many other things. All were unique experiences, not because they were new, but because the company we had was great.
The three weeks flowed smoothly, not because we were perfect, but because we had American friends facilitating things throughout.
If I were to say what I gained from this experience, I would definitely assure that Americans are extremely friendly and nice people, they are always ready to help. Wisconsin is so green and beautiful, people have taste and are hard working, they respect their country and abide by its laws, and I guess that''s what makes America play a leading role.
I do believe now the United States of America is not what we see on TV, it''s a great country made so by the effort and perseverance of its people.
One more thing to add, when I was given the chance by iEARN to attend a regional conference in Amman, I felt so grateful, now I feel I owe iEARN a great deal, I believe the great deal I owe iEARN is working harder, and by this I mean benefiting more students and improving myself at the same time.
This is iEARN, whenever you help others learn, you do learn novice things too.
Ms. Amani Srourtop
The most important part was the presentations at school, which we were allhappy that it took a good reputation at school, and we felt that allstudents now there know enough information about Lebanon.
Also an imporatant thing to talk about is meeting Sabi, the Palastinean guy,that was very generous with us and took us to Chicago. There, we saw thesecond tallest building in the world, Sears Tower, and the Planetarium. Morethan that, Sabi took us to make a live radio show on a radio station calledWORT, in his own program called "Salamat".
Maybe the most exciting thing for us was the Canoe trip which we''ll neverforget forever.
Last but not least, I''d like to thank the iEARN organization for everything,I''d like to thank every person helped in this exchange program including thehosts. We hope we''ll keep in touch with our host families.
Mr. Izzat El-Hajjtop
The main purpose of this exchange, I guess, is cultural trade. We were there to learn about American culture, and at the same time teach them about Lebanese. What did I teach about my culture? Well just about everything from Geography to History to Music to Sports to Way of Life. We had questions like: "Is it really hot in Lebanon?" or "Do you have Frisbees in Lebanon?" that we answered without sarcasm. Overall, are presentations on Lebanon were quite successful. The next question is: what did I learn about their culture? Well the American culture is very similar to that of the Lebanese and at the same time, very different. For me, the biggest difference had to be the social relationships between people. In Lebanon, our cousins are like our second brothers, our friends are a part of our life that we don't feel complete without, and our neighbors are the people who's smile we see everyday, and who's laugh is the music we sleep to. I felt that in the US, people weren't as close to each other as they are in Lebanon, for some people don't even know their cousins; and some people don't visit their neighbors in the morning to have what we call a "Sobhieh;" and it seems as though friends aren't as close over their, but rather just a spice that adds flavor to your life; while in Lebanon I feel like my friends are a part of me, and without them I am not who I am.
This exchange program was truly a huge success, and this was all due to the great contribution of the school, the students, the teachers, the families, and a great man named Sabi. Being able to talk with the people on the forums prior to the actual exchange was also a great facilitator as it made us more comfortable with the people before meeting them which gave us a jumpstart at the beginning of the physical exchange. However, there were some weaknesses in the exchange that could be worked on, for nothing can be perfect. One thing I recommend be changed is the scheduling. For example, the second week of the exchange was all work. We had up to four presentations a day and were worn out by the end of the day and losing our enthusiasm. Then came the third week which was full of field trips and activities. We had lots of fun that week. In fact, there were so many fun things we did that we weren't able to appreciate every single activity enough. My suggestion is that the activities are more scattered. That way the student would be able to work hard for some time, then refresh through an all-day activity for some more work. In addition, I personally had a weakness in my part of the exchange that wasn't controllable. My host families were great. They were the best people ever and I got along with them very well. But it takes time to get used to living with a family, and having to switch families in the middle of the exchange was a hard task for me because once I got used to one, I had to change and go through the process all over again. I know that this was the best that could have been done, but my suggestion is that the program pushes harder next time and concentrates on finding one host family per student. It'll make things much easier on him/her.
Finally, I come to talk about my personal growth during this exchange. Naturally, experiences such as these are great character builders. Now that I reflect upon my evolution during this trip, I feel that I have gained confidence, maturity, and wisdom, and have seen these traits develop in my colleagues as well. In addition, I have learned to appreciate and value my family, friends, and country more, to become, overall, a better person. Thank you BRIDGE III for selecting me to be part of this wonderful trip. Thanks to everyone who has worked hard to support this program. Thanks to iEARN. Thanks to VAHS with it's students and teachers. Thanks to both my host families: the Pitterles and the Smithbacks. Thanks to all my Lebanese colleagues. Thanks to Sabi for making our experience better than it already was. Thank you. It has been my pleasure.
Ms. Maysa Mouradtop
I would like to thank you for the chance you gave all of us, the Lebanese group. We portrayed our country proudly. It felt good to be an ambassador. Again I thank you for this amazing hands-on experience, and i thank IEARN and the Bridge program for allowing us to share our culture with the States. This experience helped me explore, learn and teach. I learned to appreciate more of what i have, what i give, and what i receive.I learned that a person has a lot to give and a lot to learn.
Thank you again.
Mr. Mustapha Azzamtop
I am Moustafa Azzam from Dr Nazih Al Bizri public high school iEARN gave me the opportunity to participate in the bridge 3, the exchange program.
After the group was chosen we meet at IEA office. We started preparing a presentation to present it in the US. As well as we were chatting with our host families and with the American students that are coming to Lebanon throw the iEARN forums.
So we are there in the us, the first week we were attending classes with our hosts and for me I made a lot of friends and they were all welcoming me. The culture is somehow different, and that what my host family sad when I prepared them tabouli a Lebanese traditional salad. They admitted that they don't have unique dishes like us. The second difference I noticed is the family life; how? I noticed that it is something different from the thing we see in American movies...
So I lived with teenagers and they were not fighting with their parents... and the best part was the mother''s day, when all the family and cousins meet at the family house in the farm, and some of them drove 4 hours to meet the family and celebrate this day... .that was great...
The second week we were presenting for the classes the presentation about Lebanon including every thing culture schooling system location sports ... every thing...
The third week we went to a cave their, and the best day was when we went canoeing and we (I mean my teacher Neamat and I) fell off the canoe... we were wet...
And my host took me to meet some Arabic students in the university to help me maybe in applying for a scholar ship and come back for the university study...
We met their Palestinian guy and he took us to Chicago... I have to thank him...
I think that is enough...
Ok I am back in Lebanon