Iraqi Students Get Lessons in Democracy

Growing up in Iraq, Hasan Talib's teenage years were scarred by war. Now, as CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports, Talib wants to help his country heal and rebuild. His mission has brought him all the way to the U.S. capital to witness democracy in action.

"The diversity is what makes you guys stronger - I think the diversity is a good thing for every country," Talib said.

"So it's a challenge for you to say - how do we make that work to our advantage in Iraq?" Doane asked.

"Yeah - and we will make that work."

Talib is one of more than 50 Iraqi university students invited to the U.S. for a summer-exchange program funded by the U.S. State Department.

Through teambuilding workshops and community service projects, a diverse group of Iraqi Christians, Muslims, Arabs and Kurds are brought together to glimpse the patchwork of American life.

Medical student, Veyan Agha was one of 500 to apply. She says even the simplest values she's observed in America - like being on time - could help her country function more smoothly.

Can fifty students coming here and going back to Iraq really make a difference?

"We can make a difference," Agha said. "Because when you tell your friend and your friend is gonna tell his friend or her friends and it's just like - just the circle is gonna get bigger and bigger."

Of course, the idea of an exchange is that learning goes both ways. Iraqi student Flona Fareed is teaching some American students.

"When they ask me like do you go by camel to your university? And I was like, I'm going to be a dentist, I have my own car!"

This next generation of Iraqi leaders says they'll stay united back at home. After all, they've seen a country made up of many which can work together as one.
  • Seth Doane

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