Alumni Voices: Bilal Tanweer Bilal Tanweer, Karachi-based writer and alumnus of both the Fulbright Program and the International Writing Program, shares his thoughts about his U.S. exchange–and how writers engage the questions and issues of our time. “Both of these experiences were incredibly enriching,” Tanweer says. “The opportunity opened all doors for me… it helped me find ways to think about the reality we inhabit.” His debut novel “The Scatter Here is Too Great,” was published by Random House in December 2013. Learn more about the International Writing Program at exchanges.state.gov/non-us/program/international-writing-program-fall-residency.
Alumni Voices: Arieb Azhar & Zeejah Fazli Meet noted musicians Arieb Azhar and Zeejah Fazli, founders of Music Mela, Islamabad’s first-ever music festival and conference. Azhar, a 2012 Center Stage alumnus, and Fazli, a 2012 International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumnus, designed the festival to provide a much-needed performance platform for Pakistani musicians, as well as strengthen ties between the U.S. & Pakistani music communities. Fifteen bands performed for an audience of more than 10,000 at the mela, which included a keynote by a rep from South by Southwest (SXSW), one of the U.S.’s most influential music conferences. Learn more at facebook.com/MusicMelaConference.
Alumni Voices: Nida Butt Meet Nida Butt, owner and director of Made for Stage theater productions in Karachi, Pakistan–and an alumna of the Kennedy Center Summer Fellowship for International Arts Managers. “The program equips you with tools so you can run your arts organization in a healthy and sustainable way,” Butt says. “Art is the lifeline of society. There will always be a place for art. No matter how bad things get, it’s our light at the end of the tunnel.” Learn more about the fellowship at kennedy-center.org/education/artsmanagement/international.cfm.
Alumni Voices: Bina Shah Karachi-based novelist and alumna of the International Writing Program (IWP) Bina Shah shares her thoughts her U.S. exchange–and the power of literature to transcend borders. “It made me believe again in the validity of what I do as a writer,” she says. Today Shah is a contributor to the International New York Times and her new novel, “A Season For Martyrs,” will be published later this year. Learn more about the International Writing Program at exchanges.state.gov/non-us/program/international-writing-program-fall-residency.
Alumni Voices: Noori In 2012, Lahore-based rock band Noori was selected for the U.S. Department of State’s Center Stage exchange. Listen to Ali Hamza and Ali Noor share their thoughts about their U.S. tour experience–and the power of music to build bridges and strengthen ties between Pakistan and the United States. “The music did most of the talking,” Noor says. Center Stage is a cultural exchange program that connects foreign performing artists with American communities through month-long tours. Learn more at www.centerstageus.org/artists/noori.
Promoting Peace and Volunteerism in Punjab Meet Rubina Bhatti, a 2005 International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumna from Sarghoda. She is using lessons learned during her exchange program to promote volunteerism, activism and peace-building efforts in Punjab. Find out about IVLP at eca.state.gov/ivlp/about-ivlp.
Empowering Women Through Education in Karachi Meet Maria Taqdees, a 2004 Youth Exchange & Study (YES) Program alumna from Karachi. After returning home, she partnered with her local community to provide educational opportunities for women in her village. Want to apply for the YES program for high school students? Visit: iearnpk.org/yespk.htm.
Helping Islamabad’s Street Kids Find a Better Future Meet Sarah Adeel, a 2009 Fulbright program alumna of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and founder of Lettuce Bee Kids (LBK), a non-profit organization that uses art therapy to help street kids find a better future. Learn more about LBK at lettucebeekids.com. Want to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship? Visit 126.96.36.199/Programs/USFulbrightScholar.cfm?Tab=Programs.
Developing Youth Leaders in Baluchistan Meet Jawad Khan, a 2011 Study of the U.S. Institutes for Scholars (SUSI) alumnus from Quetta. After returning home, he founded the Organization for the Development of Youth to train students to become tomorrow’s leaders. Want to apply to the SUSI program? Visit islamabad.usembassy.gov/pr_susiprogram.html.
Promoting Literacy in FATA Meet Farman Ullah, a 2010 Global Undergraduate (UGrad) alumnus from Mohammad Agency in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Through his work with the Innovative Youth Forum (IYF), Farman has organized after school speech competitions to promote literacy among FATA’s youth. Want to apply for the Global UGrad exchange program? Find all the instructions at: 188.8.131.52/Programs/GlobalUGrad.cfm?Tab=Programs.
NASA Space Camp Inspires Filmmaker Meet Babar Ali, a 2011 NASA Space Camp exchange alumnus from Karachi. His exchange program inspired him to become a documentary filmmaker. He has recently been accepted to study film at National College of Arts, Lahore. Read more about the Space Camp program at iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/gallery/2011/07/20110707145140jezrdna0.5456441.html.
Promoting English Language Learning in Skardu Meet Shamshad Hussain, a 2007 Community College Initiative Program (CCIP) alumnus from Skardu. Shamshad is the program manager for Gilgit-Baltistan’s English Access Scholarship program, which empowers hundreds of students to improve their educational and economic opportunities through English language learning. Want to apply for the Community College Initiative Program? Visit usefpakistan.org/.
Improving Women’s Health in Punjab Meet Dr. Yasmin Rufi, the first woman in her family to earn a college degree and a 2005 International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumna from Bahawlpur. She motivated the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network Chapter in Bahawalpur to hold a series of free medical camps for women in Punjab’s poorest areas. Learn more about IVLP at eca.state.gov/ivlp.
Fighting Fires in Peshawar Meet Wasim Khan, a 2009 Community College Initiative Program (CCIP) alumnus from Peshawar. During his exchange program, Wasim interned with the St. Louis, Missouri fire department, giving him hands-on training that has helped him fight fires and lead first responder training iwith Peshawar’s Rescue 1122 service. Want to apply for the Community College Initiative Program? Visit usefpakistan.org/.
Sports Exchange Kickstarts Female Football Star’s Rise Meet Sana Mahmood from Islamabad, former captain of Pakistan’s Women’s National Football Team. Her 2009 Sports United Exchange in the United States gave her the leadership skills to lead her Young Rising Stars (YRS) Club team to victory in 2010 and 2012, and to serve as an advocate for using sports as a powerful tool to empower young women. Learn more about the U.S. State Department’s Sports Diplomacy programs at: eca.state.gov/programs-initiatives/sports-diplomacy/empowering-women-and-girls-through-sports.