For many in the group of 138 Pakistani graduate students, a workshop in the 40 Acres was their introduction to the United States.
Participating in the second annual Pakistan Fulbright Workshop, the visiting students received a crash course in American customs, politics, and academic culture.
The five-day workshop, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the U.S. Department of State and the Institute of International Education, was designed to enhance the experience of the visiting graduate students and address the issues they may come across.
The workshop offered the visiting Pakistanis “the opportunity to build friendships among fellow Pakistani Fulbrighters and also Americans, especially fellow graduate students, that will last long after their stay in the United States,” said Sue Borja, a Branch Chief from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in the U.S. Department of State.
The workshop helped to break down cultural barriers between Americans and the visiting group of Pakistanis.
“Americans are incredibly friendly and fair,” said Sarra Latif, a graduate student in social work at Washington University in St. Louis.
Muzaffar Abbas, a graduate student in pharmacy at South Dakota State University, echoed these sentiments.
“People in the United States have been so friendly and helpful,” he said.
Both students enjoyed the workshop’s seminars, saying they illuminated the intricacies of American culture.
“The session on U.S. politics was very enlightening,” Sarra said. “Politics come up a lot in my classes.”
Angela Branigan, Assistant Director of International Student and Scholar Services at the International Office, helped to plan and organize the workshop. She spoke of the program’s importance in building relationships between citizens of the two countries.
“After attending the workshop, we hope the students feel they have the necessary tools to be a successful graduate student in the US, to have a better understanding of the US, as well as to recognize both the importance and privilege of being a Fulbright grant recipient as it provides the opportunity to be an ambassador for their country in the US,” she said.
In addition to the seminars given by UT faculty and staff, students were taken on a tour of the Capitol building. They ended the workshop with a visit to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.
Founded in 1946, the Fulbright program offers highly competitive merit based grants to international exchange students in over 155 countries. Since the program began, over 300,000 people have participated.
By Forrest Burnson