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Friday, May 12, 2006

Chicago AFM program

Queen Rania concludes four-day visit to the US

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department - Chicago) Carrying the Jordanian message of cross-cultural understanding and acceptance, and highlighting the role of education, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah interacted with students, women leaders, opinion shapers and political and diplomatic figures, during her four-day trip to the US, which concluded on Wednesday.

On the last day of her trip, Her Majesty received a warm welcome in the Windy City of Chicago, as she visited Gallery 37, a program of After School Matters, a non-profit organization, which works to expand out-of-school activities for teenagers within their communities.

A job-training program for young teens, housed within a state-of-the art facility known as the Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, Gallery 37 exposes Chicago teenagers to various disciplines within the arts, including visual, performing, culinary and media arts.

Upon arriving at the Center for the Arts, Her Majesty was greeted by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and his wife Maggie Daley, co-founder and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of After School Matters.

Queen Rania interacted with teenagers and members of the staff as she toured a number of the center's facilities, including the Dance Evolution, a show dance and vocal arts studio, before proceeding to the Center Space Gallery to mingle with members of the Chicago Arab and Business communities.

At the event, Queen Rania spoke with members of both communities about the important relationship between Amman and Chicago, enhanced by an agreement in June 2004, between the mayors of both cities, in which Amman and Chicago were declared “sister cities” under the terms and regulations of Sister Cities International, Town Affiliation Association of the United States. As a result, the Amman-Chicago Sister City Committee was established to generate multi-sectoral exchange projects between the two cities, including those relating to education.

After School Matters partners with the City of Chicago, the Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Public Library, and the Chicago Department of Children and Youth Services to achieve its goal.

On Tuesday, Queen Rania met leading women figures in Washington, D.C., who committed to supporting a training program for women, during a benefit luncheon held by the Vital Voices Global Partnership Fund 'Women's Empowerment'.

The two-year project, conducted by the Jordan River Foundation, of which Queen Rania is Chairperson, will address issues related to understanding and valuing women and youth participation in development and empowering women to have a bigger role in their community.

During the event, Queen Rania expanded on Jordan's progress in the field, noting the concerted efforts of both non-governmental and civil society organizations in realizing the various achievements.

A video illustrating JRF's activities was shown at the luncheon, after which Queen Rania and the attendees discussed the organization's various programs.

A non-profit organization since June 2000, the Vital Voices Global Partnership grew out of the US government's Vital Voices Democracy Initiative, established in 1997, after the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing to promote the advancement of women as one of the goals of U.S. foreign policy at the time.

During her stay in the US, Queen Rania also attended the Save the Children ‘Promise of Youth’ symposium to help raise funds for the organization's Jordan and Lebanon chapters, in New York, and joined students for a Junior Achievement (JA) New York program at Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan, where she read out a message from the Jordanian students of INJAZ, the Middle East offshoot of JA, to their US counterparts.

While in the Big Apple, the Queen also participated in the launch of the Ben and Izzy television program, a Jordanian-American produced animated cartoon series, which she hopes will help children from different cultures bridge their differences and focus on their similarities.

In Washington, D.C., moreover, Her Majesty, urged the global community to follow the path of Sesame Street in spreading the values of knowledge, mutual understanding and respect, at the Mosaic Foundation Ninth Annual Benefit Dinner. The dinner was hosted by the wives of Arab ambassadors to the US and held in support of the Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street and other educational programs for children, which was founded thirty seven years ago.