North Branch, Rush City families, schools welcome Muslim teens in diplomacy effort
She comes from a land ranked fourth in the world for most populous country and tops in Muslim population.
At 17 years old, Nariah Haer is a long way from her native Indonesia, where her customs in the Muslim faith are as common as the different rules the people live by when compared to another nation across the globe.
Yet she’s feeling right at home in the heart of a country that may be adjusting to her as she is to it. Apparent is what can be seen — a head scarf, or hijab, that conceals her hair. Lesser known is perhaps the pork she cannot eat or the pet dog she cannot touch.
Nariah and two other Muslim students are part of a group of foreign exchange students under the Ayusa organization who are learning about American life at Rush City and North Branch public schools. They are just three of five secondary students in Minnesota this year on scholarship through the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program, or YES program, a government diplomacy initiative aimed at strengthening relations between America and predominant Muslim nations.