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UW-Eau Claire welcomes Global UGRAD-Pakistan student

March 28, 2012
 Rabia Rafiq
Rabia Rafiq
EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire welcomed a new international student on campus this semester as a part of the U.S. Department of State's Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan.

Rabia Rafiq, from the large city of Karachi, Pakistan, is one of the 200 students chosen to participate in the program. She arrived in Washington, D.C., in January for orientation before making her way to western Wisconsin.

"I applied for this Global UGRAD program last year in January 2011," said Rafiq. "People from all over Pakistan apply to this and the selection is very competitive. I recall around 6,000 people applied this time, approximately 600 were shortlisted for the interviews."

Global UGRAD-Pakistan advances youth leadership and encourages mutual understanding by providing one academic term of non-degree undergraduate study to a diverse group of emerging student leaders from underrepresented sectors of Pakistan.

The program provides an exchange experience at a U.S. college or university, giving participants the skills required to achieve success at higher education institutions and enriches student experiences with activities such as cultural events and internships.

In addition to academic studies, Global UGRAD-Pakistan students engage in cultural enrichment activities on and off campus by exploring American traditions and interacting in the community. As a result, the students develop a more well-rounded perception of American and international culture.

"I had my fingers crossed before coming here, but now I know that I haven't come to just the USA," Rafiq said of her experiences at UW-Eau Claire. "I have met people from Vietnam, China, Japan, Egypt, Dubai, India, Ireland, Mongolia, Brazil, Lebanon and many more places. I work, study and have fun with them. I am living some of the most memorable events of my life here. I feel lucky."

Rafiq, like other UGRAD participants, is required to do volunteer work, complete a cultural exchange program and give a presentation on Pakistan or organize a cultural event.

Global UGRAD-Pakistan students act as local ambassadors for Pakistan by giving presentations about their home country and culture at local schools, clubs and other locations.

Several programs administer the Global UGRAD Program on behalf of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. UGRAD programs at UW-Eau Claire are facilitated by the International Research and Exchange Board and the U.S. Educational Foundation in Pakistan.

Rafiq says she is enjoying the program and her time at UW-Eau Claire, though she said it was difficult to adjust to Wisconsin weather. She is learning about American culture, traveling and enjoying the business courses she is taking at UW-Eau Claire.

While she is not sure exactly what the future holds for her, Rafiq said her experiences at UW-Eau Claire are preparing her to succeed.

"I don't know exactly what I want to do but I want to have a business of my own someday," Rafiq said. "I want to serve the community in some way; it could be small acts of charity or teaching. Plus I want to travel to different parts of the world. I value relationships a lot and always want to remain close to my family and friends."

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