On July 25, 2019 United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) organized a pre-departure orientation (PDO) for 156 departing students who will pursue master’s and PhD studies in the United States this fall. The 2019 Fulbright cohort hails from 42 Pakistani universities and will be completing their degrees at more than 80 U.S. universities across academic disciplines, including engineering, energy management, and social sciences.
The guest of honor, U.S. Embassy Islamabad Chargé d’Affaires a.i. John Hoover congratulated the grantees on their achievement. “The American government believes in the power of education, and we’re investing accordingly,” Chargé Hoover said, adding, “We do so because we believe that investing in these programs strengthens our relationship, builds stability, and leads to mutual economic prosperity.” He stressed the global importance of the Fulbright program saying that it is the U.S. government’s preeminent academic exchange program, known all over the world for the outstanding quality of its participants. He added that the program has been an incredibility important and powerful tool in strengthening links between Pakistan and the U.S., all the way back to the beginning of Pakistan’s history.
Advising Manager for Pakistan and Afghanistan at the Institute of International Education (IIE), Jennifer Skiba, prepared the students for their Fulbright journey in the United States.
Selected videos from season two of Fulbright Heroes, the documentary series chronicling the journey and contributions of alumni, were screened at the PDO. The videos served as inspiration for the participants and also highlighted the program’s impact on health, education, energy, accessibility, and policy reform in Pakistan.
Fulbright alumna, Shima Bibi, who is also the first woman in her family and her village to earn a Ph.D., encouraged the participants to take full advantage of their experience in the United States. “By sitting in a multicultural class with people from all over the world, you will not only gain knowledge, but will also grow in all aspects of your life,” said Shima.
“This group is about to embark on an experience that will enrich their lives,” noted U.S. Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) Executive Director Rita Akhtar. “They were selected on merit not just grades and test scores, but also their achievements in the context of their opportunities. They will return to Pakistan with advanced degrees and join our proud Fulbright alumni to enrich the lives of others by contributing to Pakistan’s development in nearly every sector.”
During various informal sessions, the grantees got the opportunity to engage with Fulbright alumni and State Department officials, asking them about American culture and what to expect.
Since its inception, over 7,100 Pakistanis and more than 900 Americans have participated in USEFP-managed exchange programs. In addition to the Fulbright program, USEFP manages a number of scholarship programs for undergraduates, teachers, journalists, and other professionals. For more information, visit www.usefpakistan.org.