It’s that time of the year again when the alumni of the U.S. Department of State sponsored exchange programs gather under one roof to reconnect, discuss ideas and celebrate the achievements of their respective chapters. 17th August 2017 marked the seventh annual reunion of Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) Islamabad Chapter. The reunion was held to celebrate the great success accomplished by the alumni over the last year at several levels.
“The anxiety of being on the stage was almost unbearable” shared Muhammad Owais Siddiqui anxiously (an alumnus of Global Undergraduate program). Siddiqui along with Samman Raza were hosts for the evening and were given the task of welcoming over 700 guests to the event. The audience responded with glee as Siddiqui said, “the enthusiasm I was able to witness from the stage, boosted my confidence and spirit.”
The event was dedicated to the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between the United States and Pakistan and the ever-growing friendship. The evening kicked off with the welcoming remarks by the President of PUAN Islamabad/Rawalpindi Chapter, Ms. Saima Amjad who addressed the audience saying, “PUAN is an organization with an equal representation of human resource. We [the chapter leadership] hope that its potential capability and capacity grows in future to further the mandate of adding value and bringing two nations closer.”
The Chief Guest, American Ambassador to Pakistan, Mr. David Hale appreciated the efforts of alumni by saying;
“PUAN has a well-deserved reputation as a vibrant, engaged, and active alumni network. PUAN and the programs that you have taken part in are concrete manifestations of that ‘close and cordial relationship’ envisioned by President Truman 70 years ago. And you are evidence of our joint efforts to advance the welfare of the people of Pakistan. Alumni come from all walks of life and all parts of Pakistan. You are leaders in your respective fields… Through your engagement with PUAN, we hope you will help us make a connection with Pakistanis who, for now, only know the United States from a distance.”
The evening was filled with fun, laughter, celebration and productive discussion for further success and development of the chapter. PUAN Country President, Khawaja Muddassar congratulated the alumni for undertaking several initiatives to reshape their communities and empower the locals. The American Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale, staff of the U.S. Embassy Islamabad joined hands with PUAN Islamabad/Rawalpindi Chapter leadership in the cake cutting ceremony to honour the 70th years of friendship between the U.S. and Pakistan.
Alumni Voices: Sharing Exchange Experiences
The program began informally with presentations by the alumni who have recently returned from their exchange program. The alumni from a variety of the U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs talked about the intercultural exposure they witnessed in the United States; the modern and multi-faceted approaches to learning, and their favorite memories from their exchange program.
PUAN’s Got Talent!
PUAN is a lot about celebrating and appreciating talent, but for the first time the stage was taken over by the incredibly talented individuals and let’s just says nobody complained. After receiving numerous requests, and extensive auditions, a total of five performers were shortlisted to showcase their talent and left the audience completely wowed. The performances ranged from classical dances to singing and musical performances.
And the Award Goes to….
As the tradition goes, this year as well, a joint team of PUAN, Chapter leadership and the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad presented two categories of awards to seventeen alumni. The Distinguished Alumni Award was given to Maria Qureshi (IVLP 2012), Rahila Emmanuel (CCIP 2014), Kamran Javed (Access 2007-2009), Laraib Abid (UGRAD 2014) and Hussain Haider (ELP 2015).
While, the Young Emerging Leaders Award was presented to Mehwish Riza (UGRAD 2015), Sardar Sami Ullah (LFP 2015), Ramsha Batool (UGRAD 2015), Sabeen Farooq (Access 2007-2009, BFSI 2012), Sumaira Malik (UGRAD 2014), Naman Ahmed (SUSI 2015), Ali Shahbaz (Access 2012-2014), Sajeela Kiran (CCIP 2016), Rubeena Ehsan (Access 2010-2012), Saif Ul Islam (UGRAD 2016), Yasin Khan Jadoon (Access 2014), and Amina Sadaf (LFP 2013). The chapter also recognized the efforts of over 20 alumni who had contributed to the cause of strengthening people-to-people ties between the U.S. and Pakistan.
The recipient of Distinguished Alumni Award, Hussain Haider (Emerging Leaders Program alumna), expressed his delight and shared that “PUAN is not just a network of alumni for me but also a family to me; being with PUAN feels like being at home. After returning from the United States, I became a member of PUAN and endeavored to become an active member by volunteering for events and conferences as often as possible. The experiences enabled a scene of ownership within me by making me realize that I was being part of something big. This award reassured me that my contributions, efforts, and services with PUAN did not go unnoticed and this is just the start to new beginnings.”
The Young Emerging Leaders Award is a token of appreciation presented to young leaders of PUAN who demonstrate promise and efforts to lead the community towards development. The objective has been to encourage their hard work so they may continue with more motivation than ever. Sabeen Farooq was ecstatic on receiving the award and said that; “I am extremely grateful to receive the Young Emerging Leaders Award 2017. I am earnestly pleased for the recognition I have received for my work and I will keep this award as a reminder to reach new heights and achievements in future.”
The PUAN Islamabad/Rawalpindi Chapter’s annual reunion left all the attendees energized and refreshed to pursue sustainable goals for the development of their communities for the years to come.