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July 03, 2005

Super-size this! Follow-Up

Wouldn't this have made a "30 Days"-worthy story of dispelling preconceptions?

"Before, I thought the Americans were like the Europeans - no religion, no moral values, taking drugs, having sex, drinking all the time," said Sirine, an earnest 17-year-old Tunisian who stayed with an Atlanta-area family. "But my opinion changed. I found people going to church a lot, and some are really conservative. I found the people more friendly than I expected. I thought all Americans were for the war, like the government. But some people are different." Her host mother, to her surprise, kept a scrapbook of antiwar news clippings.

Abdulrahman, a thoughtful 16-year-old from Syria who spent the year in Waters, Michigan, agreed. "Back home in the Middle East," he said, "when we used to hear about the United States in the news and movies, they only show you what they want. Then, when I came to Michigan, I found out in the United States there are some of the nicest and most open-minded people I ever met. I didn't expect to find that."

Kaoutar, a quick-to-smile 17-year-old from Morocco, stayed with a family in Imbler, Imbler. Ashland was "such a liberal community," she said. Quite unlike anything she had imagined, the children in her host family were not allowed to watch television.

Ahmad, a tall and mature-sounding 17-year-old from Kuwait, said: "It wasn't really like the movies. People were open-minded, but a little afraid until we got to know them." He said that where he stayed, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, "it was not Beverly Hills - it was a normal, average home."

Or this?
Farah Siddique also knows what it means to feel marginalized, and she is grateful to "Postcards From Buster" for helping her feel less so. Farah, 12, lives in a Chicago suburb with Pakistani and Filipino parents who are Muslim. In a telephone interview, she explained why she was happy to appear on "Postcards From Buster," wearing her hijab (a head covering) and studying the Koran.

"It was important to tell people about my religion and everything," she said. "Some people think we're bad because of 9/11 or something, and I'm telling them we are not bad, we're not trying to hurt anyone or do anything wrong."

Asked what she thought about PBS's decision not to distribute the "Buster" episode about the children with two mothers, she said: "We don't believe in that stuff. My opinion is that it is bad or wrong. My sister is 7, and she watches PBS Kids shows. I wouldn't want her to watch that kind of thing."

What if people said they wouldn't want to watch the episode about her because they don't like Muslims?

Without hesitation Farah replied: "Wow, I hadn't thought about it like that. Can I change what I said? If people were judging me because of my religion I would get really sad. Now I think maybe they should show it."

Posted by jeet at 07:42 PM