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High School Students Attend UCLA Lecture on Iraq

High School Students Attend UCLA Lecture on Iraq

56 students from James Monroe high school trekked to UCLA April 16 to hear RAND Middle East expert Jerry Green examine the Arab world after the Iraq war.

By Jonathan Friedlander

Fifty-six juniors and seniors from the James Monroe High School Law and Government Magnet in North Hills, California, took a bus to UCLA from their San Fernando Valley home base April 16 to participate in a session of an unusual UCLA undergraduate class on "The US and the World After September 11." The 10-session class is open to the public and was a perfect opportunity for the Law and Government magnet students, whose curriculum is designed to instill interest and knowledge of the United States legal systems and help them understand and become active in community and global issues. They were  accompanied by two of their teachers for the lecture by Jerry Green, director of the RAND Corporation's Center for Middle East Policy. Several had a chance to ask questions after the presentation, which ranged from possible weapons of mass destruction in Syria to Saudi discontents with U.S. policy, Kurdish-Turkey relations, U.S. nation-building efforts in Afghanistan, and the strains on the Atlantic alliance. The course is sponsored by the Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations.

"This was a great experience for the college bound students in my AP class," said Paul Graber, Advanced Placement United States Government teacher. "We have been discussing the war in Iraq in class, and having a chance to hear from a speaker so versed in the Middle East issues was so beneficial." Mark Elinson, Honors United States History teacher, concurred: "Students particularly enjoyed seeing the interaction between the audience and the speaker. The [Monroe High School] students who asked questions were thrilled to be able to interact with someone who is an expert on the Middle East."

Student reaction was equally enthusiastic. "The lecture not only opened my eyes to the conflicts that grip the Middle East, but it opened my eyes to what will await me at the college level of education," said Jonathan Amaya, a 12th grade student enrolled in the AP Government course at Monroe. His fellow students echoed this sentiment. "I thought the lecture was a great experience and a great opportunity to get a taste of college life" said Amanda Salazar. "As a future UCLA student, going on this trip was a great experience because it gave me a chance to get more familiar with the atmosphere of university life," said Ani Kaiserian. "Dr. Green presented his facts in a well organized fashion, and I learned a great deal about an issue I didn't know that much about," concluded senior Rodrigo Parodi.

The visit of the Monroe High School group to campus is part of the active K-12 outreach program promoted by the UCLA International Institute. For more information, including the upcoming summer workshops for teachers on Islam in the Contemporary World and The World of Asian Literature, go to www.international.ucla.edu/outreach or contact Outreach Director Jonathan Friedlander at 310.206.8631.

UCLA International Institute