Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State offers scholarships in collaboration with the US Education Foundation for Pakistan.
The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan (Global UGRAD-Pakistan) allows a diverse group of youth leaders from underserved populations across Pakistan to spend a semester in US and learn about the similarities and differences in the cultures of Pakistan and America by being a cultural ambassador. Through US-based training and practical experience in leadership positions, community engagement, and studies related to their professional fields, undergraduate students gain the skills needed to implement long-term civic and economic changes in their communities, building stability through increased local capacity and cross-cultural understanding.
Perks and Benefits:
- The Global-UGRAD program is a fully funded program. The scholarship will cover international travel, tuition, room and board, accident/sickness insurance, a small monthly stipend ($400-$500), and funding for books ($500).
- Students live in university residence halls and have the opportunity to participate in campus organizations and activities.
- Global UGRAD is a substantive exchange program designed to expose students to the American educational system, society, and culture.
- The Global-UGRAD participants, upon returning to Pakistan, become part of Pak-US Alumni Network (PUAN) which is a vast network of alumnis of various US Department of State exchange programs.
After you return to Pakistan, you are encouraged to initiate community service programs in your local community. As a member of PUAN, you are eligible to apply for grants from the US Department of State, required for community projects initiative.
The esteemed program is advertised in newspapers and on the USEFP website and social media. The applications for the program open in October and close in mid November. The program can be applied for online by going on to USEFP website and making an account. The application process requires you to send in the online application by the deadline. It is important to comply with all the requirements of the application process. The most important part of the application is the Personal Statement and the candidate’s interest and experience in Community Service and Extracurricular activities.
The eligibility criteria is described such as:
- Pakistani citizens
- 25 years or younger
- Currently enrolled in a college or university and committed to returning to their home universities following the completion of the program
- Should be in either their 14th or 15th year of formal education. Medical colleges are also eligible to apply.
- Strong leadership qualities and potential in their university and community activities
- Serious interest in learning about the United States
- High level of academic achievement, as indicated in grades, awards and reference letters
- Proficiency in English
- Students from diverse backgrounds, especially those students who have not previously had opportunities to travel internationally are encouraged to apply
- Applicants should not have a dual U.S./Pakistani nationality or U.S. permanent residence
- Should not have a parent, spouse or fiancé who is a U.S citizen or permanent U.S resident
- Should not be employees of the Fulbright organization or the U.S. Department of State
- Students should not be in their final year of university
- Should be eligible to receive a US J-1 visa
Candidates shortlisted for the interview are called and informed in January-February. The first round of interviews takes place in March.
Before the interview, they ask you to write a brief one-page essay about a topic of their choice.
The interviews either take place at the USEFP office in Islamabad or the US Consulate in Karachi. Interview format is a panel interview in front of Pakistani as well as American personnel. The interview spans over 10-20 minutes.
The interview focuses on your Personal Statement and your past professional, educational and extracurricular experiences. The interviewers also try to understand you as a person, your long-term professional goals, your understanding of your duties and responsibilities towards your country, your spirit for involving yourself in community service and your patriotism. They want to understand what Pakistani culture means to you and why do you think you would make a good cultural ambassador. They are also judging your proficiency in spoken English. You need to be confident and go prepared for the interview.
Do not show strong sentiments towards religion, politics and other sensitive issues. American culture dictates that sensitive issues and topics are personal matters and should not be questioned. Instead show that you are liberal towards ideas of democracy, empowerment, acceptance, diversity and inclusion. The Global-UGRAD program focuses on preparing you to be a future leader in your community and in your career. Thus, in the interview they want to know if you have what it takes to be a great leader. They also prefer individuals who have a keen incline towards feminism or entrepreneurship (or a combination of both). Before going in for the interview, read up on latest news and current affairs.
The selected candidates are informed about their selection a few weeks later. Then starts the process of submitting various documents to USEFP such as No-Objection Certificate (NOC), two recommendation letters signed by your professors/ supervisors/ employers and a medical certificate signed by a PMDC recognised medical practitioner.
USEFP schedules a TOEFL test for you, which is a standard English language proficiency test. Please bear in mind that your TOEFL score has no impact on where you’re placed in the US. And a low score does not mean that you will be disqualified from the program. It will only result in having you take English language courses during your semester abroad.
USEFP representatives keep in touch with you throughout the time you prepare yourself for your departure to the US. A week before your departure, an orientation is held in Islamabad where you are prepared for the 4-5 months that you will spending in the US. All your queries are answered and your confusions are cleared. The orientation also gives the candidates to interact and socialize with each other. It is during the orientation that the students are officially revealed their placement in the US.
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