Friday, September 22, 2006

Chinese, Jews and Catholics Playing Together Nicely


This corner of the Midwest is usually thought of as pretty white-bread, but two items came onto the radar this morning that belie that image:

Item one: I’d written previously about the PRC’s Confucius Institutes program, thinking it would be confined to the American coasts and not really touch the heartland. Wrong: A new Confucius Institute opens today here in Iowa City, with a charge to educate students at the University of Iowa as well as local primary and secondary schools about Chinese language and culture.

Item two: Cedar Rapids-based Muslim Youth Camps of America (MYCA) is clearing the last hurdles to opening a youth summer camp in North Liberty, about six miles from here, on Army Corps of Engineers land that formerly hosted a Girl Scouts camp. MYCA has applied for grants from the state and county governments to help run the camp, and no local officials seem to have anything bad to say about the idea. Of course, Web-based gringo nutballs have been busy drawing connections between the camp's backers and Islamic terrorists in classic "so you admit you were once in the same room as a murderer" style, but overall local reaction seems positive.

And as a supplemental note about tolerance, the annual football showdown between Iowa City’s two high schools—if you saw Friday Night Lights, you know how much these cross-town games mean—was moved up one night so as not to clash with Rosh Hashanah. The Iowa City area is very heavily Catholic and Protestant—you can have the local coffeehouses nearly to yourself during Sunday services—so this is also a welcome sign of heartland diversity.

No comments:

Site Meter