Excerpts from chat between students in Damascus and students at the Ross School in E. Hampton, New York, on Wednesday, April 16.
Ross school: hello my name is laura
Damascus: hello this is david (David is Alaa's nickname)
Ross school: do you go to school?
Damascus: no I doesn't.
Ross school: do you have a job?
Damascus: no, I am not allowed to work here
Ross school: how do you get money?
Damascus: my father, even though is old, he still works. He is a sort a mediator to get goods in and out of Iraq.
Ross school: how old is you?
Damascus: I am 17 years old.
Damascus: Marwan and Noora came in.
Damascus: Marwan is 19 years old , Nora is 20 years old .
Ross school: I was wondering how did you feel when the US invaded Iraq ?
Damascus: we were very frustrated
Damascus: and sad.
Ross school: do you have any questions for us ?
Damascus: how does it feel to be a student in the US? how does it work?
Damascus: Marwan asked
Ross school: we are in a private school which works differently than the public schools here
Ross school: it's expensive, but many people get financial aid
Ross school: www.ross.org is the website if you want to check it out
Ross school: it's privately founded by one woman.
Ross school: we get to travel to many countries including Mozambique, Greece, Brazil, and Italy.
Damascus: are there many difficulties in terms of the text books themselves?
Ross school: are any of you going to Syrian schools?
Damascus: Marwan goes to school here.
Ross school: are you okay in the schools ?
Damascus: Marwan says that the text books her are different than the ones in Iraq, so it is hard for me.
Damascus: their treatment to us in general is not very good, but i am not different than anybody else.
Ross school: when the war ends will any of you go back to iraq or do you prefer to stay away from there?
Marwan: I am not optimistic about the situation and i don't think i will go back anytime soon.
Nora: I don't think, as long as the American forces there, that the situation will change for the better.
Ross school: how do they spend time in Damascus?
Marwan: I read as well as do other things for fun
Damascus: I like to write too.
Marwan: recently I wrote a play and it was performed yesterday.
Damascus: David says that he spends most of his time on the internet chatting
Ross school: are you chatting with people in Baghdad or other places?
Damascus: he chats with mostly people in Turkey because he speak Turkish.
Ross school: do you feel animosity towards all Americans? what can we do as students to help you?
Damascus: We know that the American people are good and many oppose to this. We don't like the American troops.
Noora: What do YOU think about the US Army ?
Ross school: we don't think that the situation has been handled well.
Ross school: the soldiers aren't culturally sensitive or trained, so it's pretty tough
Ross school: we don't understand why the soldiers are really there
Ross school: we don't even get the real picture of what's happening over there
Ross school: except in this class we see what's really happening and it's much different than what we see on the news daily
Damascus: in the US we thought there is a freedom of press and you can get the reality a lot easier than we could
Ross school: there is but there is A LOT of censorship against the media
Damascus: Us leaving out homes reflects that the situation is bad
Damascus: Marwan is surprised to know that there is censorship
Ross school: the major news stations chose to edit the stories so as not to "upset" people. The real whole story is out there, it just needs a little extra work to be found
Ross school: many people focus on news about celebrities here over the situation in Iraq
Damascus:Nora: That is funny, so people don't want to see the situation they created in Iraq, while we live in it. How do we suppose to feel now
Ross school: most people feel that they are not a part of it or the decision to invade Iraq
Ross school: so they chose to avoid the situation
Ross school: a lot of people block it out because they don't want to feel responsible, we don't really know what to do as civilians.
Damascus: we are very happy to meet with you guys
Ross school: another thing, we were told the wrong reasons for why the US invaded in the first place
Ross school: okay we have to go as well, our class is almost over. it was very nice having the opportunity to speak with you
Ross school: shukran
Damascus: we are thankful as well. hope to talk to you again. Peace upon you!
Damascus: we have to go now