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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Team of all-Emirati pupils to spread UAE's message of tolerance and friendship in the US

Five boys and three girls will participate in the “Better Understanding for a Better World programme” in Baltimore

Eight Emirati pupils from American International School in Abu Dhabi will be travelling to the US to spread the country's message of tolerance and friendship. Courtesy American International School in Abu Dhabi
Eight Emirati pupils from American International School in Abu Dhabi will be travelling to the US to spread the country's message of tolerance and friendship. Courtesy American International School in Abu Dhabi

A contingent of eight Emirati pupils will next week spread a message of tolerance, co-operation and friendship on a school trip to the United States.

The five boys and three girls are pupils at American International School in Abu Dhabi and aged between 16 and 18.

The group will give a presentation about the UAE in traditional dress and it is the first time that Emirati girls from the school will be going. They will also read to children in hospitals there and to mark the Year of Zayed will visit the 355-room Sheikh Zayed Tower in the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

All the pupils are eagerly anticipating the trip.

“It will be a great step for me to change the world's understanding of the UAE,” said Khalifa Al Awadhi, 16. “And to show them why we are so blessed and proud to be Emiratis.”

Another pupil, Rashed Al Mazrouei, 16, said: “Being a part of the programme can help develop my learning skills on a global scale, learn how to co-operate and learn with young leaders from different backgrounds.” A third, Alia Al Suwaidi, 18, said she had always been interested in taking part. "I am honoured to be one of the girls that are representing the UAE for the first time this year and hope that this opens up doors for future students."

The trip is now in its third year where the pupils participate in the “Better Understanding for a Better World programme” in Baltimore which runs from next Wednesday to Sunday. The conference brings together 100 pupils from 34 countries across the globe to break down cultural barriers.

“I’m so excited. We have five boys and three girls — all Emirati which is unbelievable,” said Jodi Gratman, assistant principal at the school and organiser of the trip.

“If grade 11 and 12 kids can do this in a conference from different ethnic groups and religions, why can’t everybody else?”

Ms Gratman lived in Palestine for six years and speaks Arabic. But after 17 years teaching in the US she decided to return to the Middle East and Abu Dhabi. For her, this is the perfect opportunity to expose these pupils to different types of people.

“They don’t know anything about Middle East or the UAE and enter our pupils who are going to blow their minds.”

The group arrive in the US on Sunday and return on April 30. Over the course of the week they will also visit the Sheikh Zayed Institute at the Children's National Hospital in Washington, DC where they will read for children as representatives of Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan's organisation, Wanna Read? They’ll also donate books.

The pupils will next visit The Sheikh Zayed Tower at Johns Hopkins University where they will create a tribute to the late President for hosts, doctors and members of Baltimore/Washington DC Emirati community.

“It's a huge honour to attend this conference and I'm really proud to be representing my country,” said Abdulla Al Dhaheri, 16. Another pupil Sultan Al Khouri, 16, said: “It will help us gain knowledge and confidence as well as help us make new friends.”

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Johns Hopkins Hospital opens Sheikh Zayed Tower