Dear Mr. President...

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obama-reading-letter Muslim high school students from Al-Huda School in College Park, Maryland were asked what they would say if they could have five minutes with President Obama, to ask just one question. They wrote the following to express their concerns and fears, hoping to influence the President's agenda.

On Ending the Syrian Dictatorship:

As a Syrian American growing up in the land of freedom, I have become concerned with  our choice of humanitarian actions. If I had the chance to ask President Obama a question, I would inquire about his future plan and intended foreign policy towards the problems in Syria.

Every summer, I was blessed with trips to visit my parents’ homeland, and was able to connect with Syrian children living in everyday devastation. The country has been through horrible times for over half-a-century. Syria has gone through political turmoil with short term, unsuccessful presidencies until 1970, when President Hafiz Assad took over - with military action. Ever since the Assad regime has been in power, Syrians have suffered greatly.

Syrians were optimistic that changes would be made after his son, Bashar, took over in 2000. Unfortunately, he continued his father’s path. A grip of iron. No political party was allowed except the Ba’ath Party. When asking for rights or changes in the economic and political systems, Syrians were met with torture. The situation became worse when Syrians joined the Arab Spring. Without being held to account for its actions, the Syrian government has committed war crimes, including rape, slaughter, abuse, and burning.

America has helped to end other dictatorships. If he takes action against the bloodthirsty Syrian Government, the president can make a difference and give Syrian youth their country and dignity back. He can grant a bright future to many, including me, by saving Syria from devastation and preserving our childhood memories.

On Jobs for High School Graduates:

I am apprehensive about the fact that there may not be an adequate job for me once I graduate. A job is necessary for a high school graduate to help avoid college debts.

Recent polls stated that 91% of parents believe that their children will graduate from high school, and only 38% believe that the children will find a good job. I believe that this is important for the future of America.

If graduates were to get a job after high school, it would contribute to the work force, provide great work experience, and young people will be able to pay off debts or not have any at all.

I would bring up the issue of future jobs to the attention of the president. One idea is to guarantee exceptional high school students jobs upon graduation.

On Ending School Bullying:

President Obama,  there has been an epidemic of bullying-related suicide spreading throughout schools. According to, "For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it." Also, according to studies done by Yale University, “Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims”.

Do you have an effective plan to keep families from losing their children to bullying? This question is important to us because the youth are the future of tomorrow, and without them, we can’t say that America will grow and develop for the better with confidence.

President Obama, I know you and the First Lady held the first ever White House conference on Bullying Prevention in March of 2010, and that you and your administration have recorded videos for the "It Gets Better" Project. But, I wonder if there are steps being taken to ensure that all of the awareness is being translated into improvement for kids who have to go to school everyday, only to suffer from ridicule.

I attend a private school and I’ve always personally had a small tight-knit class, so when I hear on the news how many people my age suffer through bullying and some even reach the extreme of committing suicide, it shocks me and makes me extremely thankful for my own school. I cannot imagine struggling to learn in an environment where I do not feel protected.

I believe there should be a law stating that all schools must implement anti-bullying programs to teach students the effects and harms of bullying and punish those who victimize others. Schools should also provide a safe and secure way of allowing students to tell what's happening to them without exposing themselves. With the combination of these efforts, bullying may become significantly reduced in schools.

Awareness helps, but is only a first step.

On Aid to Israel:

Why it is that America provides over three billion dollars a year in aid to Israel? Essentially, we are helping Israel make the lives of many poor, innocent Palestinian children miserable, or even to take their lives away.

Believe it or not, this what Israel spends the foreign aid we give for - its military. At least 6,617 Palestinans have been killed by the Israeli military. This statistic does not include the ones that have died due to their inability to get medical aid because of Israeli road blocks. This number also does not include those killed by explosives that were set up near Palestinian homes to kill anyone who goes near.  Who knows how many others have been killed and not found.   What have these people, especially children,  done to America or to anyone at all?

Giving foreign aid to Israel is a waste of money.  We, as American people, can do so much with such a tremendous amount of money.  First, we can try to alleviate hunger amongst all Americans. Second, many  families can benefit immensely from this money, right here at home. Third, many children can receive better education and teachers could get paid more.

We need to think about how America’s money is being spent. Not only do we need to think about the money, but also, how our  children view the United States. Do they see America as a country that supports peace and equality?  Or would we like our children to grow up knowing America helped its "friends" kill innocent children?

We need to think about our future and how to help others positively. The Israeli government is already very powerful.

America should work on building up its own reputation and helping itself grow. Our money should go to  people who will use it for the benefit of others, rather than to help people that ruin and destroy the lives of many.

On Closing the Gap Between Rich and Poor:

The unemployment rate among the uneducated is triple that of the educated. Shouldn't uneducated people have a chance to be able to support their families?

I understand that you plan to create more jobs, Mr. President, but will those jobs benefit everyone? As we prepare for the economy to improve, can we be sure to create opportunities for everyone? It seems, so far, people who own businesses and are in the upper income levels are seeing improvements, but the poorest people aren't.

Is it in your plan to provide people of all classes with equal opportunities to have a life where they can have a family, make ends meet, and give their children happy memories to look back on in the future?

How can the country flourish if some of the people are very rich and some are struggling just to live?  It is not fair that people are in such extremes.

On Universal Healthcare:

If I had a few minutes to speak with the President, I would ask him to address the issue of universal healthcare in America.

As a high school student, it is good that I can remain on my parents’ healthcare plan until the age of 26. Although the percentage of 18 to 25 year-old Americans lacking health insurance has dropped in recent years from 28.7% to 23.4%, the percentage of uninsured 26 to 65 year-olds has been steadily increasing and is now at 19.4%.  The 2012 Affordable Care Act is having a significant impact on young adults, but no impact on Americans 26 to 65 years-old.  According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll, 53% percent of Americans remain pessimistic that in 20 years, the Medicare program will still provide adequate healthcare to Americans over 65. 

About 17% of American adults are uninsured.   This means more American adults are uninsured now than were from 2008 to 2010. I believe that a healthcare plan should be provided by all employers. The percentage of Americans saying they receive healthcare through their employers is down to 44.8% from 49.8% in January 2008. I believe healthcare is still a big issue in America that should not exist.

Most other industrialized countries have Universal Healthcare.  I believe that America should do the same.

On Lowering Unemployment:

In October 2012, the unemployment rate was 7.9 percent. Groups like veterans, who fought for this country, should be able to get jobs to support themselves.  As the prices for goods increase, the unemployment rate seems to do the same.

This is an important issue that got a lot of attention during the campaigns.  Everyone has a different idea about how to improve the problem. I agree with those who say that to create more jobs, we have to stop adding to our trillion-dollar debt from spending.  We have to save money as a country.

Now, after the election, I am waiting to see how the president will actually reduce the number of Americans who do not have jobs.    

On Becoming Even More Green:

A poll done in March of 2012 showed that 47% of Americans were for energy  production in the United States and 44% were for environmental protection. If the United States were to act on this information and begin to produce our own energy, then there would not be as much strife over the issue of oil. So, the question is: why are we not fighting to become even more environmentally friendly, faster?

We have made some investments to find more environmentally safe options for energy. Wind and solar energy are the best options known currently. They are rarely harmful to the environment and allow for a cleaner Earth.

In the last four years, the country’s reliance on foreign oil has reached a 16-year low and solar, wind, and geothermal energy have approximately doubled.  These are both improvements but if we are going to provide a healthy world for the coming generations,  we must discontinue our country's use of fossil fuels.

The issue of global warming has become more than just a threat in the past decade and I am afraid for the Earth. I hope that in the future I can be proud to say that my country is indeed green.

On the High-Cost of Healthcare:

What are President Obama's views on the rising costs of health care? How is he going to continue efforts to fix this issue? 

According to The Health Care System "National Health Expenditures and Annual Percent Change, 2002-17", The price of health care was 2.1 trillion dollars in 2006 and increased to 2.2. trillion dollars the following year. In 2008, health-care cost $7,681 annually for one individual. These fees are unbelievably high for even a middle-class family to pay.

The high costs of health care prevent people from being able to go to the doctor when they are sick, or pay for a procedure that they need to have done. I once had a classmate that was poverty-stricken, her family struggled a lot financially. Her mother was diagnosed with cancer, and went through several procedures and visits to the doctor. When her mother passed, their family was left motherless and with many bills that were impossible to pay.  Their desperation was obvious.  She, though a teenager, never bought anything she didn't absolutely need, and came to school in the same old clothes everyday.

In a recent survey of 2,314 people who filed for bankruptcy, 61 percent of them became bankrupt because of the inability to pay their medical debts.

We all are aware of “ObamaCare,” its main goal is to make it easier for people to buy insurance and the government will help pay what people cannot afford.  I appreciate the benefits it has for middle and low-income people, especially.  The plan does have its flaws though.  I fear that it is just too expensive for the country and will increase taxes to the middle class. Why not just create a plan to simply make healthcare cost less in the first place?

On More Government Money to Private Schools:

If I were able to ask President Obama about a current issue, I would probably ask him about how he could increase financial aid for private schools.

According to a Gallup poll conducted this year, about 60% of parents are dissatisfied with the education being presented to their students in public schools; while, 80% of parents were satisfied with the performance of their students in private schools.

Personally, I also feel that private schools offer a better quality of education than public schools do. The quality of teaching and informational materials is better in private schools sometimes, because parents pay for it. Students have a better opportunity of receiving the information they need in comparison to most public schools, where the student body is large and teachers do not have enough time to give each student the attention he/she needs. But what about the children whose parents cannot pay?

Education should be valued because it can change the future of our country. We do not want only wealthy people's children to have the best opportunities to participate in our future. Private schools, most likely, offer a better education for students and gives them a higher chance of entering a college and pursuing a career befitting their needs and interests. Private schools should receive help and federal funding from the government to pay for school supplies, teachers, and even help the students that are in need pay for tuition.

I feel that if President Obama would take this issue into consideration, it would help benefit our country’s and children’s future.