Umaira Nazar Hussain’s journey to the United States from Pakistan as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (Global UGRAD) has been a once in a lifetime opportunity to serve as a goodwill ambassador for a country and people she loves.
The Global UGRAD-Pakistan program is designed to build a diverse group of youth leaders from across Pakistan. Through U.S.-based training and practical experience in leadership positions, community engagement, and in their professional fields, undergraduate students gain the skills needed to implement long-term civic and economic changes in their communities, building stability through increased local capacity and cross-cultural understanding.
In addition to her academic studies at OSU Institute of Technology, Umaira has experienced American sports, fine arts, monuments and traditions. She has also performed over 60 hours of community service in the Okmulgee Public Library and OSUIT Child Care Center. Throughout these activities she has provided her unique perspectives and background, enriching the learning experience for her American hosts and fellow students.
“Umaira has done a remarkable job of transcending the cultures of her country and the United States,” explained Dr. Bill Path, OSUIT President and Provost. “She has gone out to local elementary and high schools to talk about the culture she comes from and she has learned so very much about the United States that she can take back to share with her own community, family and friends in Pakistan.”
Umaira remembers one humorous experience from her visit to Okmulgee Elementary School that still makes her laugh. “In front of more than 100 young students I was asked how many moons are seen in Pakistan,” she explains with a smile. “I told them Pakistan is on the earth, so it has only one moon too!”
“I think it is important to understand that even though I am from a different place, we as human beings share many important values and experiences,” said Umaira.
Umaira not only was selected from hundreds of applicants for the UGRAD-Pakistan program but was a winner of their Spring 2013 Cultural Passport to America competition based on the variety of her community involvement, video summary project and blogging activities during her stay in the United States. Upon her return to Pakistan, she intends to finish her degree at the University of Sargodha to prepare her for working at a multi-national organization.
“Participation in the UGRAD exchange program has been a life changing experience for me” said Umaira. “But the journey does not end with this exchange; actually, it has only begun.”