It’s been almost seven years since 9/11 — half a lifetime for 14-year-old Amelia Flynn. And for half of her life, the news has been filled with stories linking war and terrorism and Muslim countries.

So it was a pleasant surprise when over the course of her ninth-grade school year, Amelia learned that students in Algeria are just like her.

“They’re actually a lot like us,” said Amelia of Grosse Pointe Woods. “We found lots of people like to read, they like to listen to music, they like to hang out with their friends, which is exactly what kids here like to do.”

Anna Overall, 16, agreed that students today are more likely to hear about Muslim countries in the context of war and terrorism.

“I hear it from the news, the newspaper, in class,” said Anna, a Grosse Pointe North freshman from Harper Woods. “It’s everywhere.”

Grosse Pointe North civics students are participating in the E3 Link Project, sponsored by Michigan State University. The name 3 Link means English, education and electronically linked. The program was developed to link secondary students in the two countries to help improve the Algerian students’ English proficiency and provide cultural exchange between the countries.

There are 38 Algerian schools and 24 U.S. schools that have joined the initiative with North, including some in metro Detroit, such as Pinckney, Dakota, Farmington, Hartland and Fraser high schools. MSU created the portal for communication and provides technical help. The students use discussion forums, PowerPoint presentations, podcasts and other forms of Internet communication to get to know their Algerian counterparts, describing to each other their communities, schools and lifestyles. (MORE)


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