Alumni News Grants

Youth for Change: Creating a Civic Education Youth Force in Shahdatkot

Youth for Change

By Rimsha Ali Shah.

Being a bystander in his own classroom was a new role for Waquas, but one that he cherished more than ever.

At the head of the classroom stood Kajol, a student of grade ten at Government Girls High School, Shahdatkot.  Kajol had undergone a five-day extensive training program where she learned all about five key elements of civic education: health skills, conflict resolution skills, citizenship skills, self-management skills and social skills.

Kajol’s poise in the classroom was a clear indication of her command over what she had learned over the five-day mentorship period.  She had been selected in the 30 student-mentors’ cohort after a grueling application process.

“Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds”, she instructed her students taking the health skills workshop.

For Waquas Ahmed, the empowered mentor before him was a clear indication of the change he had envisioned his project would bring about.  An alumnus of the Teaching Excellence Program (TEA), Waquas had seen civic education in action during his exchange program.  “The lack of civic education integration in school curriculum is preventing our young minds from gaining the education that will help them transform lives.”

Continue Reading
First Person

Hijabi Diaries: A Different Perspective

Covereerie

By Tabish Shaikh, Global UGRAD alumna and Fulbright fellow 2015.

Amidst the disturbing events of this decade which are dividing the international community along cultural and religious fault-lines, there is a dire need to highlight some untold stories to emphasize the power of love and friendship – a connection that knows no boundaries.  Back in 2013, as a Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (UGRAD) student at Gannon University from Pakistan in the snowiest town in the United States: Erie in Pennsylvania, I got lucky to get to know a few people who took care of me, just like family.  That is when I experienced the true power of cross-cultural exchange and most importantly, I experienced why hosting matters.

Chris, the international student advisor at Gannon University helped me settle in as I tried to adapt to my host city.Kathy, who was a faculty member at Gannon University, along with her husband David used to occasionally invite me over for dinner at their home.  David used to make my favorite local delicacy – fruit pies, whenever I used to visit them. They introduced me to their extended family and friends and made me feel at home every time I visited them.  Our discussions would range from current worldwide issues to personal life gossips.  It was truly a home away from home!

Continue Reading
Alumni News Regional Cooperation Thematic Conference

Innovation in Action: Education Outreach Visits Offer Practical Examples

Exposure visit to STEP

By Rimsha Ali Shah

The PUAN International Education Conference was held from July 22-24, 2016 in Islamabad with 200 exchange alumni from various U.S. State Department exchange programs from across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.  In addition to two days of intensive workshops and discussions on mapping education in the 21st century, the concluding day introduced alumni to innovative education projects in six leading institutes in Islamabad including, National University of Science and Technology (NUST), National University of Modern Languages (NUML) Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP), Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), National Agriculture Research Centre (NARC) and a dialogue session between Madrassa students and the alumni. 

Continue Reading
Alumni News Regional Cooperation Thematic Conference

PUAN International Education Conference Empowers Educators from South Asia

Group Photo w/ Amb.Hale

By Rimsha Ali Shah

The PUAN International Education Conference held from July 22-24, 2016 in Islamabad with 200 exchange alumni from various U.S. State Department exchange programs from across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka enabled alumni to learn through a series of skill-building and thematic sessions focused on key areas pertaining to education.  The alumni also had the opportunity to collaborate and pitch their projects as part of the collaborative idea challenge, that encouraged alumni to come together and design projects on an education-based issue they were passionate about.  Read on to learn more about the collaborative idea challenge, skill-building and thematic sessions designed to equip future leaders of education from across South Asia.

Channeling Collective Energies through Collaboration

 “You can never put an end to idea.  Never stop thinking.”

Panelists Discuss Strengths of the 35 Collaborative Ideas Presented

Panelists Discuss Strengths of the 35 Collaborative Ideas Presented

Nasir Shah, an alumnus of the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) was part of the panel for the Collaborative Ideas Challenge that featured 35 unique and diverse ideas centered on the theme of tackling today’s education challenges.  Alumni pitched their ideas before the participants and the panelists, after working on them for over 24 hours.  They can now apply for the PUAN Alumni Small Grants for funding to execute their projects. 

Continue Reading
Alumni News Regional Cooperation Thematic Conference

PUAN International Education Conference Celebrates the Power of Education

MappingEd

By Rimsha Ali Shah

Priyanka’s flight to Pakistan had been one marked with surprises, unfriendly weather, and a diverted and delayed flight coupled with the bustling traffic jams characteristic of city life.  But she took the delays in stride and termed the disruptions an “exploration” of a country that she had wanted to visit since 2015.

Her exchange program on International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) on “Women Countering Violent Extremism” in 2015 had been a welcome exchange that helped in countering stereotypes in the Pakistan-Bangladesh relationship.

When she learned about Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) International Education Conference through the American Center, she was ecstatic!  A lawyer by education and a lecturer by profession, her work at Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP) and Eastern University, Dhaka had increased her interest in education, and the conference couldn’t have come at a better time for her.

“I found that to reach common people and to nurture young minds nothing can be more influential than being an educator.”

The PUAN International Education Conference held from July 22-24, 2016 in Islamabad was geared towards advancing the discussion on mapping education in the 21st century.  For three days, 200 exchange alumni from various U.S. State Department exchange programs from across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka took part in thought-provoking discussions on innovations in education, celebrated success stories from the region, enhanced their skills through workshop sessions, and learned about the technological advancements undertaken by leading universities in Pakistan.

Continue Reading
First Person

Stories from Seattle: The Power of Exchanges

VijayKumar

By Vijay Kumar, Community College Initiative Program. 

How beautiful is the thought of visualizing your dream in your mind, creating its sub-conscious reality with unknown images of a different world; the excitement and joy of being in a different place, meeting with different people; where people who see things differently than you; people who look and sound different than you; but also, somewhere down the line, they share the same values of love, diversity, freedom, and friendship.  For me, that is how the last ten months of my life were as an exchange student on the Community College Initiative Program (CCIP) in the United States.

Travelling to the United States:

There is no doubt that the experiences I gathered during my exchange studies have shaped me into a different person than I was before.  As soon as I started adjusting to U.S. culture, I saw myself becoming more open to differing beliefs, ideas, and thoughts.  I took on the role of a cultural ambassador for Pakistan.  I fell even more in love with my homeland when I used to tell Americans about the beauty of my country, its culture and most importantly, the people.  I also got an opportunity to travel to the Washington D.C. with all of my other CCI fellows across the United States to learn about the political history of the United States and to visit some important places and memorials.  

Continue Reading
Alumni News Alumni Success Story

In Conversation with Ahmad Ullah Qazi

AhmadQazi

By Rimsha Ali Shah.

Who would have thought that a last minute application submitted in a frenzy would make it through to the pool of finalists for the Study of the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders (SUSI) 2011 and land Ahmad Ullah Qazi from Peshawar, then 21 and unexposed to the world beyond Pakistan, on a trip to the U.S. with 23 other students selected from Pakistan.

“I remember when Farhan Bogra, now an alumnus of Center Stage and a member of the famous band Khumariyaan, literally forced me to apply for the program.  ‘Qazi, I’ve filled out your biographical information all you have to do is complete your essays and letters of recommendation,’” recalls Qazi, who completed the application without any expectations.  Five years later Qazi works with United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, serves as a judge for various Model United Nations (MUNs) held across Pakistan, is a part of the youth coalition working on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – 4: Quality Education, and is a mentor for the youth of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 

Continue Reading
Alumni News Reunions

Alumni Gear Up to Bring their Exchange Experience Home

KL-YES Group Photo

By Rimsha Ali Shah.

Ten months with experiences that last a lifetime – that’s how the latest cohort of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (KL-YES) program summed up their year in the U.S.   Be it Dur-e-Nayab’s cultural exchange with her Tunisian, Mexican, and Lebanese friends, or Nayab Ali’s intensive four-month preparation to speak at Tedx Ann Arbor, or Moiz Khan’s excellent understanding of cultural shock and reverse cultural shock, the alumni had experiences that transformed them into global citizens, pumped with energy to change the world.

Continue Reading
Alumni News Grants

Interfaith Sports Gala Builds Sportsmanship Among Youth

Interfaith Sports Gala

By Rimsha Ali Shah

Bracing himself against the oncoming serve of his opponent, 12-year old Shaheer was not sure what to expect: he was playing against young Jeremy for the first time and the only conversation they had had so far involved both of them picking up their rackets and taking positions across the court from one another.

But he did not have much time to procrastinate.  Once Jeremy served, the two continued playing for over an hour, with loud jubilations and sometimes frustrated sighs.

On the other end of the field, six-year old Joanna was running with the football, trying her best to emulate the footwork of her favorite player Ronaldo.  Playing on the attack, Joanna was the star of the match leading her team of eight excited female football players to success!  

Continue Reading
Alumni News Grants

Forging Bonds of Harmony Through Art

DIYA Group Photo

By Rimsha Ali Shah

How do you breakdown complexities for young children without overwhelming them?  Nurturing sensitized individuals who are attentive to the social realities is critical for a progressive future.  Is the answer simply traditional teaching or a more innovative, slightly disruptive, yet equally effective manner?  Arts, as a mode of communication, is fast becoming a preferred tool to empower and enlighten children on intricate realities of today’s world.

Raj Kumar, a 23-year old alumnus of the Global Undergraduate Semester Exchange Program from of Umerkot, Tharparker and a member of the minority Hindu population in Pakistan, is committed to fostering interfaith harmony by empowering young minds with the much-needed narrative of co-existence and brotherhood.   As part of the State Department’s campaign on Days of Interreligious Youth Action (DIYA), Raj Kumar set off to design a project that addresses this theme through an array of activities under the banner of “Promoting Peace Through Composite Heritage.”

Continue Reading