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WASHINGTON, D.C– Today, Senators Edward M. Kennedy and Richard G. Lugar welcomed 250students from around the world to promote cultural awareness and understanding. SenatorsKennedy and Lugar founded the Cultural Bridges program in October of 2002 after theSeptember 11th terrorist attacks. The program provides scholarships for secondary schoolstudents from countries with significant Muslim populations. Students live with host families,engage in activities to learn about American society, and to help educate Americans aboutother countries and cultures. “We believe that the people of the United States and the people of the Islamic world can domore to understand each other and work together so that all our peoples can live in peace,”Senator Kennedy said, “The challenge we share – you and your families at home, theAmericans you’ve lived and studied with, our citizens and your citizens – is to understand eachothers’ ideals and aspirations, and avoid the negative stereotypes.” The goals of the Cultural Bridges program include expanding communication between peoplein the United States and participating countries to promote mutual understanding and respect.The program also works to promote international security and peace by educating participantsabout other cultures to develop a better informed citizenry able to deal more effectively withinternational issues. This year’s participants come from 25 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and SouthAsia, and the West Bank and Gaza. Two students, one from Lebanon and one from Yemen,lived with host families in Methuen and Andover, Massachusetts. Below are Senator Kennedy’s remarks, followed by a fact sheet on Cultural Bridges: