The U.S.-Pakistan Global Leadership and STEM Program brought ten innovative young women from across the globe to explore what is out there and waiting for them. By excelling in academia, the students from the Army Public Schools and Colleges of Pakistan had the opportunity not just to explore, but to question and to learn about culture, science, and methods around the world. I can’t believe it’s been one week since the end of the 2016 U.S.-Pakistan Global Leadership and STEM Program. This seventeen day program made me more conscious about the way I could have a career in the science fields.
We landed in Washington, DC and were met by our American hosts from the Meridian International Center. On our journey from Dulles International Airport to our hotel, we started to discuss our program and how we would spend our time in the United States.
Our time in Washington, DC started with a visit to the Embassy of Pakistan. Proudly, we sang songs and talked about the differences, but also about the similarities that Pakistan and America share. Upon arrival at the Embassy, we met the Deputy Chief of Mission Mr. Rizwan Saeed Sheikh. The level of hospitality by the Deputy Chief of Mission and the staff was superb—it felt so good to be greeted by my own people in a foreign country.
While at the Embassy, each of us had something to share, including our own interests or something about Pakistani cultural ethics. For the remainder of our time in Washington, DC we did a lot—including meeting with Ambassador Cathy Russell at the U.S. Department of State. In Washington, DC, a green and clean city, we were introduced to American locals and I found them to be quite friendly.
Our second city stop was Albany, New York. Our programs were implemented by the International Center of the Capital Region and the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute. Our time in Albany was spent indulging in the rich history of the capital of New York, but also engaged in numerous science-based nanotechnology activities in laboratories with high-tech equipment. We “hopped” into bunny suits to enter clean rooms in the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, we built and programmed LEGO block robots. We built LED circuits, learned about nanofabrics, hydric properties of different nanoparticles, and attended many workshops relating to nanomedicine and nanoeconomics.
The remainder of the program we spent in New York City. Our time here was planned by Lieutenant Adeel Rana from the New York Police Department, Community Affairs Bureau. Two of many places we toured included the United Nations building and the Pakistani Consulate. Finally, a concluding dinner was arranged in our honor by the New York Pakistani community to acknowledge our program. A culminating highlight for us was meeting Ali Zafr before we headed to our flight back home. The whirlwind visit has truly transformed all of us.
I’ve gathered many memories and had so much fun touring around these three cities and chatting with our American friends. We learned American cultural activities like bowling and roller skating from Jaclyn, while enjoying American friendships with Haley’s company, Bonnie’s sense of humor, and Jennifer’s dutiful care. We have made special bonds with each other regardless of the age gaps.I will always remember singing both Pakistani and English songs on bus rides between meetings. Our group taught Americans our language, Urdu, and we were able to practice our English! I’m sure we will have a reunion in the future.