U.S. Ambassador Olson Encourages 157 Pakistani Fulbright Participants

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U.FullBrightS. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G. Olson congratulated 157 Pakistani graduate students who received awards for Master’s or Doctoral studies at American universities on U.S.-funded Fulbright scholarships. The Fulbright Program is the flagship academic exchange program of the U.S. government. This year, 125 Master’s and 32 Ph.D. students have been selected for these prestigious awards. Fulbright grantees represent every province of Pakistan and study a variety of academic disciplines, including engineering, energy management, business, and social sciences. After completing their studies in the United States, the students will return to Pakistan and play a vital role in Pakistan’s future.

Ambassador Olson highlighted the important role of academic exchange programs in strengthening people-to-people ties between the United States and Pakistan. “I call on each one of you to continue to be outstanding representatives of Pakistan, and spend your time working to make a difference in the lives of the people you encounter, and the institutions you are a part of, both in the United States and upon your return to Pakistan,” he said. “You represent all of Pakistan’s provinces; you come from big cities and small villages, from the public school system and private colleges. I am confident that you will follow in that great tradition of the Fulbright program,” he added.

The Fulbright program in Pakistan is the largest, and one of the most distinguished, in the world. The United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP), now celebrating its 64th year of operation in the country, administers the program. Since 2005, 1,400 Pakistanis have received Fulbright Awards for graduate degrees, of which 41 percent have been women. The awards cover travel, living stipends, health insurance, and tuition for the entire period of study. “Opportunities for Pakistani students to study in the United States have never been greater,” said Ms. Rita Akhtar, Executive Director of USEFP. She congratulated the departing students, saying, “this was a very tough but transparent competition. We know you will represent Pakistan very well in the United States and return to make a real difference here.”

USEFP, a bi-national commission established in 1950 by the governments of Pakistan and the United States, is one of 51 Fulbright Commissions throughout the world. Its mission is to promote mutual understanding between the people of Pakistan and the United States through educational and cultural exchange programs. Since its inception, nearly 5,000 Pakistanis and more than 900 Americans have participated in USEFP-administered exchange programs. In addition to the Fulbright program, USEFP administers a number of scholarship programs for undergraduates, teachers, journalists, and other professionals.

The Fulbright Program is one element of a comprehensive U.S. education assistance program for Pakistan that includes building or rehabilitating nearly 800 schools, which benefits more than 86,000 school children; creating accredited degree programs in education at 90 teacher colleges and universities; providing college scholarships for more than 10,000 low-income students; establishing Centers for Advanced Studies at three Pakistani universities; and launching eight university partnerships that connect American and Pakistani universities. To learn more about U.S. education initiatives in Pakistan, see: http://goo.gl/auHXF.

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