USEFP to launch summer programme for students

Islamabad, March 29: Aiming to build strong ties between students of the US and Pakistan, the US Education Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) is ready to launch a summer programme for students of 11th and 12th standard.

USEFP Executive Director Rita Akhtar made an announcement to this effect while addressing the closing ceremony of a two-day ‘College Fair’ here on Sunday. The fair included representatives from small liberal arts colleges, including an all-women’s school, to medium and large public universities. “The participation of 11 representatives shows that the US universities are very interested in hosting Pakistani students,” said Rita Akhtar.

“This fair furthers our mission of promoting mutual understanding between the people of Pakistan and the United States through educational and cultural exchange,” she said. She added that in addition to meeting hundreds of prospective students and parents in Islamabad, the university representatives spoke to hundreds more in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar via digital video conferencing.

Speaking at the fair’s concluding ceremony, US Embassy Counsellor for Public Affairs Mark Davidson said that the United States has a long tradition of embracing foreign students. “We want more Pakistani students to enrich our classrooms and benefit from our world-class universities. Of the 650,000 foreign students who attended the US universities last year, over 5,000 were from Pakistan,” he said.

Talking to this scribe, Agnes Scott College Director Jennifer A. Lund shared some interesting dimensions of all-women college in a country like USA. She cited an example of US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who herself had been to an all-women college. “What I have noticed is that the woman who studies in an all-women education institutions tend to express their inner self to the maximum. They speak as much as they could and appear more confident,” she said.

She further elaborated that all-women colleges in a sense also help the proportionate representation of women in various walks of life. “We can observe the disproportionate representation of women in various programmes, including PhD, Medicines, Engineering and many more. I believe that all-women colleges can help in ending or at least minimise this disparity,” she added.

She further said that since all positions on the campus are held by women, it means that women are holding positions of leadership, which will ultimately help them in future to participate in politics and other mainstream fields in future.

University of Iowa Assistant Dean of International Programmes Scott E. King, while talking to this scribe, said that the US education programmes were focused on trying to get people of both countries close to each other. “Unfortunately the impression of Pakistanis is not so good in the US. However when the Pakistani students start studying in the US education institutions, it opens the eyes of American students,” he added.

He said that currently they were offering both graduate and undergraduate programmes, but in future, they would also be offering short courses. The event was marked by an enthralling performance of Kathak dance by young girls.

The US Embassy in Pakistan runs the American government’s largest educational and cultural programme in the world. Programmes such as the Fulbright and undergraduate scholarships, professional and youth exchanges and English Learning micro-scholarships are important components of the US government’s commitment to provide educational opportunities to Pakistani students, increase people-to-people ties and build a partnership with Pakistan based on mutual trust and respect.

Published by: Daily The News on March 29, 2011.

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