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June 29, 2009
By Skyler Dillon
This summer, 25 Algerian high school students will have the chance to explore a new culture as part of the Northern Nevada International Center's 2009 Algeria Youth Leadership Program. The Center is looking for Reno families willing to host the students when they arrive in Reno on July 26.
Although the students will be busy with program activities during the day, most of which will be on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, host families are responsible for the students in the evenings for two weeks, until Aug. 10. Then, the students will leave for a three-day tour of San Francisco and a leadership conference at Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center. The students will return home on Aug. 22. Staff from the Center will travel to Algeria in July to conduct a two-week intensive English language program for the students before they arrive in America.
"The host program is a wonderful way to get to know someone from a foreign country on a deeper level," said Carina Black, project director of the Center.
A grant from the U.S. Department of State made the program possible. Its goals are to immerse Algerian students in an environment of community activism, civic education, and leadership. Three Algerian teachers will accompany the students to the United States, and 10 local high school students have also been chosen to participate in the program to allow the Algerian students to better connect with Nevada culture.
"We want to increase mutual understanding, and see whether we can break down stereotypes that exist on both sides," explained Black. "The Algerian students will give presentations on their own culture after they learn about ours."
This is the first time that the Center has held an exchange program of this size. To make sure that the students take away permanent memories of their trip, they will be given video cameras that they will use in groups of five or six to record the leadership activities, Artown events and a media tour that they will be participating in. Moonshine Productions will teach the students how to film, edit and produce a documentary about their experience that they will be able to take home with them on DVD.
"We're hoping that they will be able to spread the message to their communities about what they learn," said Black.