Abdul Wahid Khan, a Kennedy-Lugar Youth and Exchange Study (YES) program 2011-12 alumnus, has just returned from the United States, where, he attended summer school at the University of California (UC Berkeley) which was partially sponsored by the U.S. Mission in Pakistan. He spent a busy month studying ecology and society; moral and political philosophy; and American society and culture.
Khan talks about his experience:
The Summer of 2017 was unlike any other, as I was pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Social Development and Policy at the Habib University in Karachi, I learned about an opportunity to attend summer school at the prestigious University of California (UC), Berkeley. The program was a joint collaboration between Habib University and UC Berkeley.
In pursuit of gaining my Berkeley experience, I immediately applied for the program and signed up for courses ranging from Ecology, Society, Moral and Political Philosophy for my summer semester at UC Berkeley. The trip to pursue the summer semester was sponsored by the U.S. Mission in Pakistan, Habib University, and his host community in the U.S.
The program offered me a unique opportunity to study with students from around the globe under the supervision of well-known professors. The fellow students soon became acquaintances and from acquaintances, we became friends, providing each one of us a platform to discuss a wide range of topics, propose solutions and discussion collaborations for future.
I must state that the best part of Berkeley is its vibrant community and the freedom of speech. Many people here, in Pakistan, often question what do Americans think of us (Pakistanis). From my experience, both in Wisconsin and California, I observed that majority of them have heard about us and can also locate it on the map. I have always been awe-struck by the fact how Americans are always eager to learn about our culture and whereabouts.
After the completion of my course at UC Berkeley, I traveled all the way to New York City to represent Pakistan at the Youth Assembly of United Nations at the UN headquarters. After attending several interactive sessions with different committees at the UN, I was introduced to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which enabled me to network with like-minded individuals for the protection of environmental and heritage. We were divided into teams and were given a special scenario during the Resolution Project Competition, in which, along with my team, I presented the solution by proposing a social venture ‘Saath Chal’ (English: Lead Together).
During the last two weeks of my stay, I traveled to Sauk City, Wisconsin to visit my host family from my Kennedy-Lugar Youth and Exchange Study (YES) program. My host family threw an exciting party for the reunion where I had the pleasure of meeting people I befriended during my exchange program. With the support of my host family, I gave a talk at a local community center about Peace, Islam, and Pakistan which made a headline in a local newspaper.
Furthermore, I delivered a presentation at International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin about my work for the protection of environment and heritage through my non-profit and discussed future possibilities for joint-teamwork and collaboration.
Throughout my trip, my aim was to educate people about the importance of exchange programs and how world peace can only be possible by building the bridges of friendship amongst people of different countries. Returning to my host family after five years and receiving the same love, indicates that the exchange program was not merely confined to a year but to that of a lifetime.
I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, Habib University, my host family and host community for supporting my summer trip which has broadened my outlook, and expanded my horizons to be the agenda of peace to make our world a better place.