Florida teen promises to share Iraq trip details | VailDaily.com

Florida teen promises to share Iraq trip details

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Faced with his first school day since his solo trip to Iraq, American teen Farris Hassan kept a low profile Monday but promised to share more details about his odyssey after getting some rest.”I’m really tired,” the 16-year-old told reporters outside his father’s condominium building. “I’m glad to be back.”Farris, who was inspired by a high school journalism class to see Iraq up close, said he would hold a news conference sometime Tuesday. He was scheduled to return to classes at Pine Crest School on Tuesday, after he and his parents meet with officials there to discuss his absences.One pressing concern for Farris is an upcoming calculus exam, he said.Farris’s mother, Shatha Atiya, said the school has no plans to suspend her son but did want to discuss his decision to skip classes when he began his travels on Dec. 11. Atiya also said there would be “consequences” for not telling his family that he was going to a dangerous war zone.”I’m just extremely happy he’s home safe,” she said.Farris returned home Sunday night to a throng of reporters and camera crews, then had a steak dinner with his father, his mother said.Farris was able to secure an entry visa for Iraq because his parents were born there, although they have lived in the United States for more than three decades. He took his U.S. passport and $1,800 in cash when he left, but didn’t tell his family what he was doing until he arrived in Kuwait.He had thought he would be able to take a taxi from Kuwait into Baghdad for the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections, but the border was closed for voting. He stayed with family friends in Lebanon before flying to Baghdad on Dec. 25.In Iraq, he stayed at an international hotel along with other Americans, drawing a crowd at a Baghdad food stand after using an Arabic phrase book to order.Last Tuesday, Farris contacted The Associated Press bureau in Baghdad and related his story. Hassan had recently studied immersion journalism – in which a writer lives the life of his subject – and wanted to understand better what Iraqis are living through.”I thought I’d go the extra mile for that, or rather, a few thousand miles,” he told the AP last week.Farris left Baghdad on Friday, as U.S. Consul General Richard B. Hermann reiterated State Department warnings against traveling to Iraq. Forty American citizens have been kidnapped since the war started in March 2003, of whom 10 have been killed, a U.S. official said.Classmates at Pine Crest School said they were not surprised Farris went to such extreme lengths. Bryan King, 17, said Farris is known for never backing down in an argument.”I definitely think he took it a little far, but that’s Farris so I’m not really surprised that he did this,” said King, who participates in the same journalism program as Farris.Another student, 17-year-old Taylor Jordan, said Farris is quiet except when the subject turns to politics, war or the situation in Iraq.”He’s pretty reserved at times and then he’ll start talking about politics and it’s like he goes from one extreme to another,” Jordan said.—Associated Press writers Kelli Kennedy and Damian Grass contributed to this story.Vail, Colorado

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