Emails to Understanding..On September11, 2001..our friendship changed forever!

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Assalamualikum w.b.t.

I remembered the good old days when I'm still in Sekolah Tun Fatimah, JB..every wednesday and thursday morning before we entered class..we will be given an article( english article) and everyone is instructed to be quite and not to do anything except READing..

The programme was also known as D.E.A.R which means Drop Everything And Read.

And one morning, I cant remember the exact date..this programme brought me to an article entitiled 'Emails to Understanding'..
It sounded very boring actually but I found that this article very2 interesting!
I'll write READ and you judge yourself whether its intersting or not..


Growing up in Australia, I wanted a pen friend. I was 13, had just started secondary school and craved for someone to talk to. So I logged onto all of the pen friend sites I could fine on the Internet , scanning them for any girls of my age from different contries.

I wasn't fussy. I wrote to a Swede, an Italian, an American, a Finn, an Arab, and an Egyptian, informing them about my hobbies, my family and Australia. Only one girl replied: the Egyptian.

When I opened my e-mail inbox and saw the reply, I was excited, to say the least. I had a thirst for knowledge about religion and culture, but most of all for that bond between two people called friendship.

Her name was Noran Hussein. She lived in an apartment in the centre of Cairo, and her parents were doctors. She wrote that she would love to be my pen friend, but had one question: was I male or female? Her mother would allow her to write only to a female.

We started off by telling each other about the basics of our lives. Right from the start I could tell that we shared similar traits - like our stubbornness and moodiness! Gradually we worked up to discussing issues and problems concerning the world.

I asked her about her religion, Islam, and soon learned about Ramadan and her other festivals and customs. Eventually we started corresponding by snail mail, too, swapping photos and small presents. It was truly amazing - on the World Wide Web, out of millios of people, I had found a best friend.

As the years passed, we counselled each other and shared secrets. We discussed many topics ranging from homosexuality to Harry Potter.

Our e-mails were always passionate, but we never tried to convert each other. Our friendship was built on trust and respect - the foundations any good relationship should rely on.

One day two friends of our family, Barbara and Alan offered to visit Noran during one of their many trips to Cairo. They soon became acquinted with the Hussein family. Over the years they would swap presents for Noran and me to save us the cost of postage.

As my interest in Noran's culture grew, I started to become aware of where I was heading in life. I considered my future career options and entertained the idea of one day joining the United Nations. I wanted to work with people of different cultures and religions, and to travel to far-off places like Cairo.

I realised that I had been granted a unique opportunity - gradually, without me noticing it, Noran had been educating me. Once I had been ignorant and did not know how to handle different opinions, but with Noran's help I had grown to accept people as they are.

Then came September 11, 2001. I knew somehow it would affect Noran. I e-mailed her, asking for her opinion on the situation and how Cairo was coping.

I still remember her reply: her American pen friend and numerous others had deserted her. They didnt want to know her any more. Why? She was MUSLIM, Middle Eastern, and her last name was Hussein.

I was very angry. I wanted to defend her. I couldnt believe that people could be so small-minded. Why couldnt they understand that Noran was just another 15-year-old girl? I didnt know what to tell her, except that I would never stop writing to her. Never!

People often ask me if I'm scared to ask Noran about certain things, like wearing the veil. I'm not. To me, asking questions is the first step towards understanding. If we stand back and only wonder, too afraid to ask, then we start to run into problems like ignorance and racism.

The truth is I envy Noran. Her faith in Islam and Egypt is strong. Perhaps this is part of the reason for the conflict in the world today - we are too envious of each other and forget that it's OK to admire one another for our differences. Or perhaps it is just a misunderstanding.

Noran and I are different. Sure, we have conflicting views, but we never say that the other is wrong. I have learned more from Noran than I could ever hope to learn from a textbook.

I dream of one day appearing on Noran's doorstep in Cairo and giving her a hug for the first time. I also dream of showing her the sights of Australia.
But most of all I dream for people to experience what I have experienced - to learn that it is okay to be different, to not to be afraid of one another, to UNDERSTAND!


I hope you enjoy reading this article..and respond to me please..
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