SUSI Team Spirit!  Alumni Gather from Far and Wide to Hold Service Event with Former Teachers

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U.S Assistant Cultural Affairs Attaché James Cerven, American Teachers and SUSI Alumnus Daniyal Hassan with children from Mashal Model School

Splattered with mud and grinning from ear to ear, more than a dozen school children of varying ages dashed around the playground. It was raining lightly but neither the kids, nor the American grown-ups who joined in their soccer match, seemed concerned.

With a forceful kick, a Mashal Model School student sent the ball wheeling past the American goal-keeper who tried in vain to slow it down.  With that goal, students from the school claimed victory in what is hoped to become a yearly football tradition.

This friendly match took place at the Mashal Model School and American teachers who were on a week-long visit to Pakistan to assess the progress that their Pakistani counterparts had made after returning from a the Study the US Institutes (SUSI) program in the United States.

Aside from the match, the educators also helped students draw, paint and fold origami with scores of children from the charity school.

“The community service session was very moving and a life-changing experience for me,” said Geoff Friedman, one of the teachers who took part in the activity. “These children have materially very little and it’s nice to see how some wonderful teachers have provided them with affection and support.”

Reunion Draws Alumni from Across Pakistan

This initiative along with a reunion for SUSI Alumni in Pakistan was the brainchild of SUSI Alumnus Daniyal Hassan who completed the project with the help of an Alumni Small Grant from the Pakistan-U.S Alumni Network. All alumni of various U.S sponsored exchange programs in Pakistan can apply for the grant in order to give back to their communities.

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SUSI Alumnus Daniyal Hassan with Islamabad/Rawalpindi Alumni Coordinator Shahid Waseem

“When we were in the U.S., our SUSI teachers told us that they would be visiting Pakistan in February,” said Hassan. “I decided to go for this project because I had told them that we will have a reunion when they would come here, to which all SUSI alumni will be invited.”

The event saw participation by more than 50 alumni who eagerly made their way to Islamabad from across Pakistan, so that they could reconnect with their American professors.

“The reunion is very good and I am very excited to see our American mentors here,” said Haleema Hasnain, SUSI alumna. “I am also happy that they are having a good time in Pakistan.”

“The American teachers visiting Pakistan are an encouragement for us,” said Syed Nazakat Hussain Shah, an alumnus from Gilgit Baltistan. “This is because if no updates are taken from us, then the benefit of the SUSI exchange program will be lost.”

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University of Massachusetts-Amherst Professor Michael Hannahan

The reunion also featured an address by the head of the American delegation Michael Hannahan–who thanked the organizers for arranging the function and also expressed his delight at meeting his Pakistani mentees.

“We have accomplished our goals with this trip because we needed to bring American teachers to Pakistan and follow up on the barriers that Pakistani teachers were facing,” said Hannahan. “We are also facing a role reversal with Pakistani students because now they are showing their country to us.”

Interactive Group Activities

The reunion took place in an informal and relaxed setting. A number of interactive group activities were also held which were geared towards introducing alumni from different SUSI batches to each other, so that they could form new bonds of friendship.

Two videos covering the experiences of 2014 student leaders in America drew laughter and appreciation from the crowd.

Meanwhile, two SUSI Alumni Ahmed Qazi and Jawad Ahmed Khan also shared their success stories, since returning to Pakistan from their exchange experience.

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SUSI Alumni networking with an American Teacher during the reunion

“Extremist ideology killed my mother and we need to work on that ideology to overcome it,” said Qazi while talking about his mother who was martyred in the December 16, 2014 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar. “We need to look towards conflict resolution so that all people vulnerable to that ideology can be saved.”

On the other hand, Jawad Ahmed Khan proudly mentioned the outreach that he and his friends had carried out in Balochistan to inform the students in his province about various U.S.-sponsored exchange programs available to Pakistani students.

The University of Massachusetts teachers, including Professor Hannahan, also took part in a panel session on the impact of exchange programs in the reunion. They stressed that people to people contacts are the best way of improving ties between Pakistan and the U.S.

As the event came to a close, the main organizer Daniyal Hassan had mixed feelings about the successful culmination of his project.

“We all had tears in our eyes when we were saying goodbye to our American professors,” he said. “But I am also grateful to the Alumni Small Grant because it helped me to achieve my dream and fulfill my promise to my mentors.”

To take a look at more photographs from the reunion, check out this link:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pakusalumni/sets/72157648667694153/

More Opportunities: GIST Tech-I Competition

GIST Tech-I Apply Now Social media

Hello to all of our aspiring Pakistani entrepreneurs!  The U.S. Department of State is announcing another great international program designed to give you an edge in developing your tech idea into a booming tech business.  Read on for all the details about the GIST Tech-I program, and how to get involved!

An Awesome Opportunity for Entrepreneurs

Do you know science and technology entrepreneurs (ages 18-40) with an idea or a startup that solves a problem connected to the environment, conservation, water, agriculture, energy, ICT, or health?  Encourage them to apply for the GIST Tech-I competition today. This U.S. State Department program has been highlighting important role models and science issues for embassies and communities since 2011. Please share this opportunity with universities, incubators, and other groups within your network who might be interested in applying.  For more information about GIST’s 2015 Tech-I competition, go to http://www.gistnetwork.org/tech-i.

What makes Tech-I unique from other competitions?

The difference is that each phase focuses on training applicants to move their ventures forward. With the application, entrepreneurs create a marketing video that can be shown to customers. Semi-finalists improve networking, social media, and marketing skills as they work to obtain the highest number of votes globally. Finalists improve their business model canvas as well as their in-person pitching skills during a free trip to attend the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) where they compete for monetary prizes. All finalists earn three months of mentorship after the GES.

Help spread the word about this opportunity today. GIST is accepting applications until March 20.  Applicants only need to submit an executive summary and a short video to promote the innovation.

Want More Details? Need Help with your Application? Attend one of our webinars:

  • Wednesday Feb 25, 9:00am US EST

Topic – Is Tech-I for me? What is Tech-I?

  • Wednesday Mar 4, 9:00am US EST

Topic – How to make a promotional video

  • Wednesday Mar 18, 9:00am US EDT

Topic – Advice on how to complete your proposal

U.S. Exchange Alumna Abia Akram Included in UN Women of Achievement List

Abia Akram Congratulations to U.S./Pakistan Disability Leadership Professional Exchange Program Alumna Abia Akram who has made it to the United Nations Women of Achievement list! She is the first woman from Pakistan to be the Coordinator for the Commonwealth Young Disabled People’s Forum, in addition to being the first woman with disabilities from Pakistan to win the prestigious Chevening scholarship. Read the complete news here: http://beijing20.unwomen.org/en/news-and-events/stories/2015/2/woa-pakistan-abia-akram

PUAN Management Hones Rules of Business in Annual Planning Moot

By Hira Nafees Shah

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Leadership of 12 local PUAN Chapters with officials from U.S Embassy Islamabad, U.S Consulates and USEFP-PUAN Office

The fifth annual National Executive Committee meeting of the 12 local chapters of the Pakistan-U.S Alumni Network (PUAN) took place from January 31 to February 1 in Islamabad.

During the meeting, the presidents, general secretaries, and finance secretaries highlighted their achievements in the past year, and elaborated on their chapters’ plans for 2015.  The alumni also offered condolence prayers for the nominee for post of Gawadar chapter president Zahid Askani and APS School’s Principal Tahira Qazi, both of whom lost their lives in attacks on educational institutions in recent months.

“PUAN acted as a family at the time of Tahira Qazi’s passing,” said Faisal Shehzad, KP/FATA Chapter President. “We also noticed that after such incidents in the past, there used to be a sense of fear in the country but now there is a sense of anger.”

“I decided to stay on in my position as the Gwadar finance secretary, because Zahid Askani had said to me that we would form the best PUAN team across Pakistan and I wanted to carry his vision forward,” said Naeema Mazar, Gwadar chapter’s representative while remembering her slain colleague.

U.S. Assistant Cultural Affairs Attaché James Cerven also paid homage to PUAN chapters, including the Gwadar chapter, for their courage in continuing to work for the people of Pakistan despite security challenges.  He also touched upon a few crucial rules that he instructed the NEC members to implement in order to ensure safe and smooth administration of events in their respective chapters.  This information is available on the PUAN blog, and has been incorporated as a new question regarding security in each small grant and chapter activity plan application.

NEC Members Benefit from the Meeting

“The NEC meeting has been very useful because it has cleared our perception of what kind of activities we can do in PUAN,” said Gul Khan Naseer, Quetta Chapter President. “It has also given us a good opportunity to develop linkages, so that we can plan some future activities with other chapters.”

“I really liked the NEC because a report was presented on this forum about the performance of all chapters and everyone was free to share their ideas and suggestions,” said Asma Mohsin, the Islamabad chapter’s General Secretary.

PUAN Leadership with officials from U.S Embassy Islamabad and U.S Consulates in Pakistan

PUAN Leadership with officials from U.S Embassy Islamabad and U.S Consulates in Pakistan

An important component of the performance of all Pakistan-U.S Alumni Network’s local bodies is how they deal with financial matters. In this regard, Sarfraz Khan, Finance Officer for the USEFP-PUAN Office gave a very constructive presentation on the documents that the chapters need to submit after they successfully complete their activities.

Another highlight of the conference was the revisions that were made in the constitution of the Pakistan-U.S Alumni Network. These changes not only clarified the responsibilities of various PUAN positions, but also brought the document up-to-date.

“The constitutional amendments were very important as they had not been made since the first NEC,” said Saba Bashir, Lahore Chapter’s Finance Secretary. “Since then PUAN has evolved a lot, included more and more alumni and every document needs to be changed with the passage of time.”  The newly amended constitution will also be made available on the PUAN blog.

Country President Elected

One by one the NEC members slipped pieces of paper into a bag, as the Islamabad/Rawalpindi  Alumni Coordinator Shahid Waseem made the round. Three chapter presidents had volunteered to take on the responsibilities of the country president but after the voting, Karachi chapter president Faisal Malik emerged triumphant with a landslide victory.

“I am grateful to Allah that all the other chapters have trusted me and have voted for me,” he said. “It is a big responsibility and I plan to open more doors for alumni.”

U.S Embassy’s Assistant Cultural Affairs Attaché James Cerven with PUAN Country President Faisal Malik

U.S Embassy’s Assistant Cultural Affairs Attaché James Cerven with PUAN Country President Faisal Malik

Meanwhile, a presentation by USEFP-PUAN Communication Officer Hira Nafees Shah on how members of the alumni network should deal with social media brought the message home that all alumni needed to be vigilant about their online security, while sharing success stories from their exchange experiences.

The NEC members also selected the theme of ‘Peace’ for their country project in 2015. They decided that the 12 chapters could decide what activities they wanted to conduct, provided they remained within the ambit of the topic.

As the meeting wound up, some of the participants were already eagerly looking forward to the future.

“I believe youth should take leadership and young emerging leaders should come forward,” said Sana Khowaja, Jamshoro chapter President. “Therefore, I decided to run for an elected position in PUAN, because I feel I can be a role model for girls who cannot come forward due to societal constraints.”

“I want to conduct medical camps for refugees and internally displaced people in Kashmir,” said Jamshaid Naqvi, AJK Chapter’s President. “I also want to work with sanitary workers.”

“In 2015, we are planning to visit Old Homes and have decided to work with disabled children and trans-genders,” said Samra Shakir, Multan chapter’s Finance Secretary.

To check out the photographs from the event, visit:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pakusalumni/sets/72157650227429910/

Welcome and Introduction from the New Country President: Faisal Malik!

Dear PUAN Members,

It was a pleasure to be elected country President by this year’s PUAN National Executive Council.  Having been born in Lahore, and now living in Karachi, I am deeply enamored of the culture of Pakistan and promoting the performing arts.

Professionally, I am an Arts Manager, Director, Actor, Host and TV Anchor.  I joined National Academy of Performing Arts in Karachi after successfully qualifying in the disciplines of Theatre Production and Television Production in 2008. I have acted and hosted on television, and have directed 56 Theatre productions (in Urdu and English), 34 dance dramas, and 107 arts workshops in Pakistan and abroad.

 

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Faisal Contemplates a New Career in Ribab

 

My exchange experience began when the U.S. Consulate in Karachi selected me for the International Fellowship Mentoring Program to study Arts Management at John F. Kennedy Centre for The Performing Arts in Washington, DC.  After coming back from the USA, as a qualified and trained artist, I founded Thespianz Theater (in 2005) and Thespianz Foundation (in 2010).  There two institutions are still working with success and making constant progress.

I have worked with many different teams at different times and have enjoyed working with each one of them to promote Pakistani arts and culture, nationally and internationally. I am currently a faculty member at some of the leading universities of Pakistan in Arts and Cultural areas. I have had the honor to host American Cultural Envoy’s project with the State Department’s collaboration, in 2009, where, along with Dr. Kanta Kochhar Lindgren, I co-directed a theatre play “Water Calligraphy”, on the deficiency of water in Pakistan. These days, I am working on The Flying Class Room project (Mobile Classroom) and The Flying Theater (Mobile Theater).

My directed plays have been greatly admired at The National Performing Arts Festival –Lahore, The Youth Festival of Cultural Dramatic and Entertainment Society and other events. I have also directed many dance shows, where numerous dancers have rendered dance performances on different occasions. I have been organizing Arts Management Residency Program in Karachi, that invited 15 Pakistani arts fellows from all over the country for the course.

Being a Country President of Pakistan US Alumni Network, I will fulfill all the needs of Presidency for this prestigious network to mobilize the Pakistan-U.S. relations in speedy way.

It’s Time to Apply for the 2016 Fulbright Award!

Interested in earning your Master’s or Ph.D. at a U.S. university? Applications are open for the 2016 Fulbright Degree Program!

Many amazing members of our Alumni network have enhanced their careers through the Fulbright program.  This program can open doors for graduate study in everything from finance to fine arts, from agriculture to astrophysics. Click the Brochure below to find out more!

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If you’d like to learn more about one Pakistani’s perspective – take a look at the video below.  Fulbright alum and head of “Lettuce Bee Kids,” a nonprofit for street children in Islamabad, Sara Adeel talks about her own personal experiences in the United States!

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The Fulbright Masters and PhD Program funds graduate study in the United States for a Master’s or Ph.D. degree . Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), these grants cover tuition, required textbooks, airfare, a living stipend, and health insurance. The US Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) also assists with the visa process. The application deadline is May 13, 2015.