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ATTACKS ALARMED STUDENTS NEAR AND FAR

One high school student spoke Wednesday about losing two friends in the World Trade Center attacks.

Another said he felt a jolt of fear when he realized his friend lived near the doomed towers in Manhattan.

The horrific attacks really hit home for some students at Lincoln High School.

But these students are not New York residents.

In fact, they're not even Americans. The Costa Rican students' close connection with the tragedy shows the impact the attacks had on the world.

The students shared their stories and thoughts with their peers from three Western New York high schools Wednesday via video teleconferencing.

The innovative technology connected Grover Cleveland, City Honors and Starpoint high schools with Lincoln, a private coeducational school in San Jose.

About 70 students participated in the video link.

"This project was to strengthen the links between our countries and discuss how we can foster a culture of peace," said Barbara Buonanno, manager of the University at Buffalo's Center of Applied Technologies in Education's networked learning communities, one of the sponsors of the project.

For more than an hour, the students discussed issues relating to the attacks, such as the new U.S. war on terrorism, living in fear, discrimination, airport security and the economy.

"This was a good idea," said Lauren Hill, a junior at City Honors. "We need to hear different perspectives. It really had an impact."

The Costa Rican students, who are fluent in English, said the attacks had an international effect and the United States should not rush in trying to apprehend the terrorists.

"Action must be taken against the guilty party," a student said. "(But) fear can allow for the situation to get out of hand."

Many said the attacks did not directly affect their daily lives. However, because Costa Rica depends heavily on American goods, they fear it might hurt their economy. And one student said his parents are now leery about his attending college in the United States.

The Western New York students shared with their Costa Rican counterparts their fears, grief and thoughts on war.

"I was very affected by it," a Grover Cleveland student said. "I was afraid to go anywhere. But I decided (not) to stoop to that level. That's what (the terrorists) want us to do."

Sam Sanders, a junior at City Honors, said: "We are all unified as a country. We all saw one thing, and that was to strike back."

Grover Cleveland students from Muslim and Arab countries said the racial attacks on Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans fueled by the terrorist attacks are unjust.

e-mail: esapong@buffnews.com

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