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Thread: 16 year old student, goes to Iraq to write his essay

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    SVZ
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    Default 16 year old student, goes to Iraq to write his essay

    U.S. teen spends wild vacation in Iraq
    Dec. 30, 2005. 02:19 PM
    JASON STRAZIUSO
    ASSOCIATED PRESS



    BAGHDAD - Maybe it was the time the taxi dumped him at the Iraq-Kuwait border, leaving him alone in the middle of the desert. Or when he drew a crowd at a Baghdad food stand after using an Arabic phrase book to order. Or the moment a Kuwaiti cab driver almost punched him in the face when he balked at the $100 (U.S.) fare.

    But at some point, Farris Hassan, a 16-year-old from Florida, realized that travelling to Iraq by himself was not the safest thing he could have done with his Christmas vacation. And he didn't even tell his parents.

    Hassan's dangerous adventure winds down with the 101st Airborne delivering him to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which had been on the lookout for him and promises to see him back to the United States this weekend.

    It begins with a Grade 11 high school class on "immersion journalism" and one overly eager — or naïvely idealistic — student who's lucky to be alive after going way beyond what any teacher would ask.

    Hassan was assigned to choose an international topic and write editorials about it. He chose the Iraq war and decided to practice immersion journalism there, though he knows his school in no way endorses his travels.

    "I thought I'd go the extra mile for that, or rather, a few thousand miles," he said.

    Using money his parents had given him at one point, he bought a $900 plane ticket and took off from school a week before Christmas vacation started, skipping classes and leaving the country on Dec. 11. His goal: Baghdad. Those privy to his plans: two high school buddies.

    Hassan's parents were born in Iraq, but left 35 years ago.

    Their son is a true American teen, a born-and-bred Floridian sporting Nike tennis shoes and trendy jeans. And as soon as the lanky, 6-foot teenager opened his mouth — he speaks no Arabic — his true nationality would have betrayed him.

    Travelling on his own in a land where insurgents and jihadists have kidnapped more than 400 foreigners, killing at least 39 of them, Hassan walked straight into a death zone. On Monday, his first full day in Iraq, six vehicle bombs exploded in Baghdad, killing five people and wounding more than 40.

    Hassan's extra-mile attitude took him east through eight time zones, from Fort Lauderdale to Kuwait City. His plan was to take a taxi across the border and ultimately to Baghdad — an utterly dangerous route.

    It was in Kuwait City that he first called his parents to tell them of his plans — and that he was now in the Middle East.

    His mother, Shatha Atiya, a psychologist, said she was "shocked and terrified."

    "He thinks he can be an ambassador for democracy around the world. It's admirable but also agony for a parent," Atiya said.

    Attempting to get into Iraq, Hassan took a taxi from Kuwait City to the border, 90 kilometres away. He spoke English at the border and was soon surrounded by about 15 men, a scene he wanted no part of. On the drive back to Kuwait City, a taxi driver almost punched him when he balked at the fee.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: 16 year old student, goes to Iraq to write his essay

    Don't try this at home kids, BUT I wish some of my journalism students had a smidgen of his spunk and initiative. He'll be dining out on this one for a long time.

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    Elite Member SammysMom's Avatar
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    Default Re: 16 year old student, goes to Iraq to write his essay

    Saw that on the news tonight, pretty brave guy.

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    Default Re: 16 year old student, goes to Iraq to write his essay

    Not brave - stupid, naive and clueless. Apparently he funded this excellent adventure from his personal stocks portfolio. His parents seem amused/proud of this 'prank'. I wonder what they would be saying if he'd been killed, kidnapped or both??
    If all the women in this place were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be surprised - Dorothy Parker

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    Elite Member SammysMom's Avatar
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    Default Re: 16 year old student, goes to Iraq to write his essay

    I say brave because he followed through and had a few stops before getting to Baghdad. I remember being in O'Hara airport when I was 17 and being scared poopless. So going to another country let alone one that is at war I call it being brave.

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