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18 August 2019

The Global UGRAD alumni comes to reunion at Islamabad

Under the aegis of the Pakistan -United Sates Alumni Network (PUAN), more than 350 Global UGRAD Exchange alumni have gathered in Islamabad on the occasion of the 2nd UGRAD Alumni Reunion. The opening ceremony of the three-day long reunion started with official welcome and opening remarks by Jennifer McAndrew, Assistant Cultural Attaché, Embassy of the United States in Islamabad.  Jennifer welcomed the alumni and introduced the chief guest of the program and briefed about the Alumni Voices Project.

The chief guest said that he was pleased to be among the energetic youth of Pakistan, who are committed to be agents of change in the country. He said that the United Sates , through exchange programs, has been providing opportunities to Pakistani students to study in some of the finest universities of the country. He said that the U.S aspires a better future for Pakistan and the graduate students can play pivotal role to uplift educational standards in the Pakistan. 

Miss Jennifer said that 350 out of 700 Exchange Students, who had availed of an opportunity to study a semester in the U.S, were invited to the reunion.

“Members of our alumni have already rendered great services in their country. They are engaged in various projects ranging from education, health, environment and career counseling,” said Jennifer.

“I feel great to see the alumni sitting together and discussing their experiences, issues and share their plans for positive change in the communities. The purpose of the reunions is to help them come together and network for change," she added.

The alumni in the event include student leaders from different regions of the country—Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, KPK and Gilgit-Baltistan. Students are committed to work for educational change, poverty alleviation, economy and global peace.

During their three-day stay in the capital, participants will have various sessions on entrepreneurship, internship opportunities, Fulbright Scholarship and ideas for the alumni local chapter activities. Participants also plan to perform certain community services such as clean-up campaigns and meeting with persons with disabilities. 

This scribe conversed with some alumni members and asked them about their experience in the States, their activities, their future plans and their message to the aspiring youth.

Seemal Mushtaq Baloch, a student of NUST, Islamabad, said that she had a wonderful experience during her stay in the U.S. She learned a lot from the culture, educational system and the society of the United States. She witnessed how peacefully and objectively people were protesting and how greatly freedom of expression was regarded. Seemal said that she was already engaged in entrepreneurship but after her return from the U.S, she has grown a penchant for change--in business, education and environment.

Semmal was selected for a global entrepreneurship summit in Malaysia. Seemal said that the youth must avail of such opportunities in order to groom themselves.

For Mohsin Hassan, a student from Skardu,it was a life-changing opportunity. He is more into community service and helping others after his return from the United States. Through his All Baltistan Students Movement, Mohsin helps through career decisions.

Karim Khan a student from Gojal said that he currently is doing some research work on Wakhi, his native language. He is also involved in career counseling youth of Gilgit-Baltistan. He said that visiting the U.S was not only an exposure but it felt like ambassadoring his country.

Aqeela Muheen a student of Environmental Science and Arifa Shabnum  student of Economics, from Gilgit-Baltistan said that after their return from the States they are working on career counseling and giving awareness about environmental responsibility. Aqeela has been conveying her message on radio programs and various awareness sessions. Arifa is promoting Clean and Green Campus at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.

“We were already working on youth issues but in the U.S, we refined our leadership and communication skills. We have been guiding our juniors for the exchange program” said Shakir Hussain and Sajid Ali, hailing from Ghizar, Gilgit-Baltistan. Sajid Ali is currently teaching as a lecturer at Aga Khan School sherq illa. He said that he has got the propitious platform to bring his learning into practice.

Naveed Hussain has contributed this story from Islamabad, Pakistan
Photo Credits: 
Naveed Hussain