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Kent State University Continues Tradition of Hosting Global UGRAD-Pakistan Student

Posted Feb. 25, 2013

The U.S. Department of State’s program helps to increases cross-cultural learning and understanding 

enter photo description
Muhammad Sohaib, a Kent State student
from Pakistan, skates at the Kent State Ice
Arena. Sohaib is part of the U.S. Department
of State’s Global Undergraduate Exchange
Program in Pakistan. The program empowers
youth leaders from under served populations
across Pakistan through U.S.-based training
and cross-cultural understanding.

Kent State University welcomes international student Muhammad Sohaib to the Kent Campus as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan (Global UGRAD-Pakistan). Sohaib is studying for a degree in business management.

The Global UGRAD-Pakistan program empowers a diverse group of youth leaders from underserved populations 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 cross-cultural understanding.

“There is a very rigorous application process,” says Ryan Fleming, international student and scholar advisor and campus coordinator for the Global UGRAD-Pakistan program at Kent State.  “Muhammad was selected among hundreds of other applicants from Pakistan.”

In addition to their academic studies, Global UGRAD-Pakistan students are required to complete 20 hours of community service and take part in the Cultural Passport to America program, which is designed to expose them to different aspects of American culture.

Sohaib will also complete a country presentation, where he will share information about his country to an intercultural communications class taught by Kent State Associate Professor of Communication Studies Mei Chen Lin, Ph.D.

Fleming says the purpose of the program is for the students to get as much cultural exchange and exposure as possible. To achieve this, Sohaib is required to stay with an American roommate in Van Campen Hall. By interacting with Americans in the community and on campus, Sohaib will develop a well-rounded awareness of American culture.

“When he goes back home, he is going to have fairly informed opinions about what Americans are like, American lifestyles and values, which I think potentially helps to diffuse otherwise conflict-ridden situations,” says Fleming. 

Global UGRAD-Pakistan students are also “ambassadors” for Pakistan. Their unique perspectives and backgrounds enrich the learning experience for American students.

“Muhammad is really happy and very driven—you have to have a very clear view of what you want to do, and it’s such an undertaking that it self-selects for motivated people. And I think that’s been evident,” says Fleming.

After only being at Kent State for a month and a half, Sohaib says this short amount of time has changed his views about the U.S., its culture, traditions and people. He says that the program helps him interact with people from every corner of the world and experience different cultures, traditions and religions not available in his native country. “I think this broadens my view of thinking,” Sohaib says. “Selection in this program is a great opportunity for me.”

The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State and is administered by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX). For more information about the program, visit www.irex.org.