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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Queen Rania attends fundraiser for Jordanian youth programs; delivers message from Arab youth to American students in New York

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department – New York City) Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah has been spreading her message of interfaith dialogue and tolerance further this week on her four-day working trip to the US. She joined a group of students at Norman Thomas High School in Manhattan, on Monday morning, to remind them how similar youth in all parts of the world are.

Her Majesty joined the students for a lecture on the global economy. The students are part of the Junior Achievement (JA) New York program, and were learning about key aspects of the global economy and trade.

They said that they appreciated the opportunity to learn about the concerns, hopes, and dreams of Arab youth from Queen Rania.

When she participated in a JA session in Jordan last year, the students asked the Queen to deliver a message to their US counterparts. The opportunity finally presented itself when Her Majesty read the message to the students:

"To the young people of the world, we are the young people of the Arab world. We want to extend the bridges among us—East and West, young and old. We want us all to feel that we are part of this big global family."

Queen Rania engaged the students in a discussion on interdependence and interconnectedness in the world.

"Today we need to make sure we are all well informed and aware of what is happening, dry facts are not knowledge, we need personal interactions," she reminded the students. "You would be surprised how similar and alike you are [with the INJAZ kids]—they have the same concerns, hopes and aspirations… the tools for interaction are there and we have no excuse not to reach out and bring down barriers and walls that separate us."

Before joining the students, Queen Rania briefly met with David Chernow, CEO of JA World Wide; Doug Schallau, President of JA New York; Phil Lynch, JA NY Board Member; Sam DiPiazza, Co-chair of JA Worldwide; and Soraya Salti, Vice-President of Middle East and North Africa JA. Queen Rania suggested to the group that cooperation between JA and INJAZ, the Middle East offshoot of JA, should move to a new level where the students at both ends get to interact and know each other.

Queen Rania is the regional ambassador of INJAZ. During her visit to Norman Thomas High School, Her Majesty noted how both JA and INJAZ bring something more practical to education and nurture skills and values such as self confidence, leadership, and creativity and bring a spirit of entrepreneurship into the classroom.

Her Majesty also attended a fundraiser hosted by Save the Children, on Sunday evening, to raise funds for the Jordan and Lebanon chapters. She joined politicians and other humanitarians at the Metropolitan Club in New York City for the "Promise of Youth" symposium.

All proceeds from the fundraiser will directly benefit their programs in Jordan and the region. Also, a delegation of donors will be visiting Jordan in November to support more Save the Children projects in the Kingdom.

Her Majesty listened on as the panelists shared their views and experiences on how education and economic development can promote peace and prosperity in societies by empowering all people, especially youth. ABC News commentator Cokie Roberts moderated the discussion that included actor and humanitarian, Richard Gere; senior fellow of US foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Isobel Coleman; and Save the Children country director in Jordan and Lebanon, Dennis Walto.

In October of last year, Queen Rania attended the official launching ceremony of two regional youth programs, "NASEEJ" and "NAJAH"-which means ‘success’ in Arabic- implemented by the Save the Children Foundation in an effort to further engage youth and teenagers throughout the Middle East in community-based development programs. Jordan is the regional hub of the NASEEJ Program and the pilot country for NAJAH.

NASEEJ is a Regional Community Youth Development Initiative, which will be implemented by Save the Children USA in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza and Yemen over the next two years, while NAJAH, a new youth employment initiative supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of the Education Reform for the Knowledge Economy (ERfKE) project, will be implemented by STC USA in targeted communities throughout the Kingdom over the next 30 months.

Queen Rania has been promoting interfaith dialogue and the importance of youth participation across the globe this year. So far, in 2006, Queen Rania has been to Turkey where she participated in a roundtable discussion with youth; in Switzerland she broached the topic of interfaith dialogue with world leaders; and in India and South Africa, she helped shed light on some wonderful enrichment centers that are providing brighter futures for their communities.