"Terror Experienced Abroad: An American Student Studies in Muslim Kenya," This is about terrorism.

Essay by lx_962High School, 12th gradeA, June 2003

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There's news...go talk to Athman, Anri said as she and Jason hurried off in a direction away from the hotel.

Okay, I thought to myself. What on Earth does that mean? The "news" I was to receive was more than I ever could have imagined.

Athman, one of our academic directors, was telling other group members the little news that we had at that point:

There have been some bombings in the States... from what they're saying, it sounds like the Pentagon in Washington has been attacked and a plane has hit the World Trade Center in New York. They think it was terrorists.

What were we supposed to make of all of this? Just nine days earlier, nineteen of us arrived from our respective universities from all over the US for our semester abroad on the Islamic coast of Kenya. Mombasa, our host city is predominantly Muslim, as is much of the East African coast.

While only seven percent of Kenya's population is Muslim, the majority of this group resides on the coast. Arab lifestyles as well as Islam were introduced into the region as early as the seventh century AD, so the coastal society has a long history with Arab culture. The juxtaposition of the African and Arab cultures on the East African coast is one of the more fascinating components to the education we were getting on our semester abroad. But the news of September 11th changed things for us as Americans living among Arabs. This warm and welcoming community in which we were studying Arab-African culture was connected to the Islamic terrorists who were to blame for the attacks -- because of a common religion.

Just after the news broke, our group all gathered at Athman's house in Old Town Mombasa, where our other academic director,