Iraq students visit Bush Library, weigh in on invasion: ‘I would have done what Bush did’
Reported and photographed by Christina Rosales via dallas morning news
Nine high school students from Iraq sat at the table where President George W. Bush monitored the invasion that changed their homeland forever.
Visiting the president’s library at SMU on Friday, they took turns sitting in the commander-in-chief’s spot and snapped pictures on their iPhones of a replica White House Situation Room.
The Iraqi students were on an exchange mission sponsored by the State Department and organized by several diplomacy and education agencies. Guests of the World Affairs Council, they have visited Washington and Virginia and are in Dallas through next week. They’ll head to New York next.
“I love American history,” said 17-year-old Saman, who like the other students could not give his last name for security reasons. “This museum is awesome. I’ve always wanted to know more about the Bush administration. I just heard his name all the time when I was growing up.”
The students, between the ages of 15 and 17, were young children when the U.S. invaded Iraq. Some lived in Baghdad, while others are from Kurdistan, the northern region of the country. All were affected by the war in some way.
The teens stay with host families in the American cities they’ve been visiting. They have heard the negativity surrounding the invasion, but most of the students supported it. They said things like “President Bush saved us.” Or “he protected us.”
Chelsea Marshall, the program coordinator who is leading the group, said the students are the best of the best in their cities, though many were touched by terroristic acts.
The group toured the museum for two hours, and by far, their favorite part was the 9/11 exhibit. They saw photos of U.S. troops and footage of a country in mourning in the days following the attacks.
As for the Iraq invasion, “It’s very emotional to see this,” said 15-year-old Zaid from Baghdad. He was tapping an interactive map in the museum to see documents related to the Iraq war and pictures of his home city.
“I would have done what Bush did,” he said. “Although, there are things I don’t agree with. I wish so many innocent people, civilians, weren’t killed.
“But Saddam [Hussein] was a tyrant and not good for anyone in Iraq. I thank God we have overcome.”
Most of the students echoed the sentiment.
Some want to be singers; others, engineers or politicians. They want to help their country, their families and their neighbors, they said.
“I want to make a change in my community,” said 17-year-old Kylie. “I want to get rid of stereotypes and help gain more women’s rights.”