PAKISTANI YOUTH LEADERS

By Jana Cunningham, communications specialist, University Marketing and Communications

Recently the University of Utah’s International Student and Scholar Services hosted 94 emerging youth leaders from Pakistan as a part of the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan. Through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by IREX, an international nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., the program brings undergraduate students from underserved populations in Pakistan to study in the U.S. to increase their academic knowledge, enhance their leadership capacity and build new life skills.

Having spent the past semester at 42 different colleges and universities around the country, the students concluded their experience at a re-entry workshop at the U. The students learned how to integrate their individual and shared U.S. experiences into a plan for their paths as leaders in their communities.

“The workshop was a great success,” said Chalimar Swain, director of International Student and Scholar Services. “Particularly in this time of divisive national politics, it was a healing, uplifting experience to see these future leaders engaging in lively discussions about diversity, inclusion, ethics and leadership. They enjoyed sharing and learning about U.S. and Pakistani culture and getting ready to implement their skills in their home communities. We look forward to hosting the next workshop in April 2017.”

Michael Hardman, chief global officer at the U, views the program as an opportunity to continue and expand on the university’s critical partnerships in Pakistan. “The U was pleased to welcome these outstanding Pakistani students to campus and to partner with the State Department to build new and long-lasting bridges between our two countries.”

Through U.S.-based training and practical experience in leadership positions, community engagement and in their professional fields, the program provided undergraduate students with the skills needed to implement long-term civic and economic changes in their communities.

Campus partners included representatives from Housing and Residential Education, the Bennion Center, the Learning Abroad office, the Office for Engagement, Office of Inclusive Excellence and the Women’s Resource Center.

This was the first time the U hosted the re-entry workshop. Representatives from the U.S. Educational Foundation in Pakistan and IREX were also on campus for the week.