This year 106 Pakistani students have been selected to participate in the Global Undergraduate (UGRAD) program, where they will have the opportunity to study at an American College for six-months and immerse themselves amongst a new culture, exchange ideas, learn, and spread knowledge on diversity.
These students are studying a wide range of subjects, like public policy, social sciences, fine arts and health. They will be attending 45 universities in the United States where they will be able to learn about their majors from a new angle, all the way on the other side of the globe. This cultural exchange has been instituted over the years with the purpose of allowing the students to return to Pakistan and contribute their learnings towards Pakistan’s development in the long run.
Sobia Siraj from Musakheil, Balochistan, is one of the students that has been selected after a rigorous process to participate in the Global Undergraduate (UGRAD) program this year. While speaking with Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network representatives at the pre-orientation ceremony of Global UGRAD in Islamabad, she said, “Being from a very small town of Balochistan, a quality education seems like a luxury for girls in my community. My father always supported my education. My sister and I are the only girls in our family who are getting educated.
Thalassemia (a blood disorder) is prevalent in my hometown which was why I decided to become a doctor. With this exchange program, I am going to study at the University of Evansville where I am really motivated to explore the American research on thalassemia. I will share the knowledge gained from the experiences in the U.S. with my peers at my college and hometown. After becoming a doctor, it is my dream to serve the patients with thalassemia in my hometown and be an inspiration for the young girls in my community.”
The pre-departure orientation ceremony of the program took place in Islamabad, and was organized by the United States Education Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP), where all the students gained an opportunity to share their stories and network amongst one another. The ceremony was overflowing with excitement and chants, as the hundred youths gathered to celebrate their achievements and the dreams they hope to achieve.
Hoorab Romail, an exchange student from Lahore, overjoyed by the ceremony, said “I’m so excited to have this opportunity of a lifetime and learn so much!” The zeal and enthusiasm in her was evident when she stated that; “after learning about the U.S. education system, I hope to come back to Pakistan and serve my community so I can empower the children of our nation to achieve their full potential and provide them with the best educational opportunities”. She told the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) team that she is one step closer to her goal to become an educationist with the help of the UGRAD program.
The American ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. David Hale had a chat with the students at the ceremony, where he shared that; “The United States has a long tradition of embracing international students, and I am certain that each of you will represent your nation well and return home to Pakistan with new ideas and skills.”
Another excited young lady, Ms. Iqra Shakur who belonged from a Baloch background shared that as a girl, due to cultural restraints she was unable chase her dreams, but with the help of the UGRAD program she was determined to turn the odds in her favor and gain the exposure she needed to follow her dreams. Iqra had an inspiring message for the youth of Pakistan. She said “I want the youth to know that they must go beyond their emotions and passions and actually do something, only then will they be able to achieve their dream!”
Just like that, this year’s batch of UGRAD exchange participants are all set to achieve their dreams and contribute to the development of Pakistan. The 100 Pakistani students who will take part in Global UGRAD this year hail from every region of the country.
Since it was launched in 2010, nearly 1,400 Pakistani students have participated in Global UGRAD.