ISLAMABAD: Twenty-five Pakistani students and 25 teachers returned home July 2 after a three-week cultural exchange program in the United States.
This U.S. Embassy-funded exchange was specially designed for participants of the English Access Microscholarship Program, a two-year after-school English language program for economically disadvantaged youth.
They visited New York City, San Diego, Washington, DC., and rural Brattleboro, Vermont.
The students, who come from all over Pakistan, improved their English communication skills while the teachers honed their pedagogical skills.
Both groups did interactive activities related to leadership development, multiculturalism, interfaith dialogue, environmental issues, volunteerism, and peace.
They visited schools, cultural sites, and museums and did community service projects.
“The exchange program was simply awesome. My favorite part was being in Vermont because the weather was great – I loved the rain – and it taught us about being leaders.
Something that especially struck me was the American people. They were so nice,” said Rida, one of the student participants.
“This trip was an amalgamation of cultural diversity, exceptional coordination, leadership qualities, and self-expression. It was excellent,” remarked Naureen, one of the teachers who participated in the exchange.
The United States operates the world’s largest English Access Microscholarship Program in Pakistan, teaching English to 5,000 14- to 18-year old students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The students learn English by participating in after-school classes and intensive summer learning activities, leading to better jobs and educational opportunities.
Since its inception in 2004, over 95,000 students in more than 85 countries have participated in the Access Program.
The English Access Microscholarship Program is one component of the comprehensive U.S. education assistance program for Pakistan, which includes operating the world’s highest-funded Fulbright exchange program, building or rehabilitating more than 800 schools, and establishing Centers for Advanced Study at three Pakistani universities to focus on applied research in energy, agriculture, and water.