Global UGRAD Student Shares Culture Through Semester-long Exchange
Omer, a Global UGRAD-Pakistan student, spent this fall at FSU sharing his unique perspective and culture with the FSU community while taking classes, exploring American culture, and serving the Tallahassee community.
"This experience has broadened my view of American culture, and how Americans see and engage with the world," Omer said. "Americans love humanity, and I am thankful for their hospitality, especially from my host family, the Vaughns."
In 2009, the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) selected FSU and the CGE to host and receive exceptional students from around the world as part of the U.S. government’s Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (also known as the Global UGRAD Program). Since that time, 25 participants have come for 1-2 semesters to share their culture and explore American culture, values, and the U.S. educational system. FSU has hosted UGRAD students from Armenia, Russia, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Pakistan, Kosovo, and Tunisia.
The program increases the diversity of FSU’s undergraduate international student population by bringing students from under-represented countries to campus. Students in the program take classes as non-degree seeking students full time and participate in community service, cultural enrichment, and professional development activities.
This semester Omer completed cultural presentations where he shared his culture with FSU students and the greater Tallahassee community. He gave one of these cultural presentations with other FSU students from Pakistan, Waseem Afzaal and Ameer Hamza (pictured from left), at the CGE's International Coffee Hour on Friday, November 30. International Coffee Hour is a weekly intercultural event hosted by the CGE that often attracts 200+ students, scholars, staff, and faculty members.
Omer also completed 20 hours of community service by volunteering with Engage Tallahassee, The Kearney Center (Tallahassee's temporary emergency center), America's Second Harvest of the Big Bend, among others. In addition, he travelled to 14 states in his spare time.
The program aims to provide participants with globally applicable skills to help them contribute to their home country’s economic growth as young leaders. Additionally, the bonds Global UGRADs form with other students through community service, interactions in the classroom, and engagement on campus increase cross-cultural understanding among FSU’s student population.
Global UGRAD-Pakistan is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is implemented by IREX. You can learn more about the program here: www.irex.org.