Hello,

My name is Nabila Ikram and I am a student at the University of Michigan - Dearborn who, along with Dr. Karen Thomas-Brown, runs an after-school geography program at MacArthur University Academy in Southfield, MI. The program runs in 4-week sessions (class meets 2 times per week) and most of our students are in the range of 6th-8th grades.

The initial intention of planning and executing this project is to conduct a research study. The study is to evaluate the current cultural perceptions our students may have regarding Arab or Muslim culture and life and vice versa, (Arab or Muslim students' perceptions on the American culture). The objective of the study is to help raise cultural awareness and global tolerance in both parties involved. The plan for this study consists of primarily three levels. The first one is to administer a relevant pretest to all students to gauge their perspectives and understanding about their own culture and the culture of their pen pals. Then over the course of the program, elements from "The Way We Are" lesson plan and other activities, will be conducted to help each others students gain awareness of the cultural environment in the U.S. and the pen pals' respective country. Terminology such as "Muslim," "Arab," "Middle Easterner," "American," "9/11" and others will be explored to develop accurate concepts that are essential to gaining a basic understanding of each culture. The third level, at the end of the program, a post-test, along with other assessment tools, such as interviews, will be taken to evaluate how students developed during this program and how their perspectives and views may or may not have changed. Therefore, we are looking for a class (anywhere from 5th-8th grade) to collaborate with that speaks English proficiently enough for proper communication and that is willing to cooperate and participate in the study that we have designed. Specifically, we would like to collaborate with a class that fits any of the following criteria: predominantly Arab (residing in the West or East), predominantly Muslim (residing in the West or East), Western (regardless of religion or ethnicity –study will then focus on comparisons between Western perceptions of the concepts mentioned earlier). However, preference will be given to predominantly Muslim or Arab classes located in the East.

We will provide materials such as the pre-test and post-test to the teacher to administer to his/her class, along with other materials or information that may be needed to successfully conduct this study. We ask that all teachers participating in this study to maintain an objective and open mind for the maximum benefit of all the students. We hope that this will be a learning experience for all involved - children and adults – and will serve as a step towards making this world a better and more peaceful place.

If you are interested or have any questions, please feel free to leave a message or email me.

Thank you.