By Niala Mohammad
Many young men and women in Afghanistan and Pakistan aspire to come to America or other foreign countries in hopes of better opportunities, however some lack the financial means to do so and ultimately become discouraged from having such hopes. But coming to America is not a far-fetched dream, in fact it is very attainable for students and young-career professionals…and in most cases it is fully-funded.
The United States Department of State offers several different scholarship and fellowship programs that allow students, young professionals, sportsman, journalists, teachers and scholars to come to America for various opportunities. The U.S. Department of State encourages aspirants from Pakistan and Afghanistan to apply to the various programs offered to them. Pakistan and Afghanistan are both active participants in these initiatives.
VOA Deewa recently spoke with U.S. State Department Scholarship and Fellowship recipients, Aslam Kakar (from Pishin, Baluchistan Province), Kashif Rehman (from Pusht-e-Khera Payan, Peshawar, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa) and Rafiullah Kakar (from Killa Abdullah, Baluchistan). They were able to guide VOA Deewa listeners in the Af-Pak border region through the State Department scholarship/fellowship application process.
Former Fulbright Global Undergraduate Exchange Program Scholar & Rhodes Scholar Rafiullah Kakar told VOA Deewa, “Youth from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Baluchistan are highly encouraged to apply….and females from these areas are especially encouraged to apply.” Rafiullah said that the number one mistake most people make in the application process is waiting till the last minute to write their personal statements. In fact, Rafiullah provides guidance to many students who wish to apply for scholarship programs through a career counseling initiative. He currently works at The Commonwealth Secretariat in the UK in the Youth Division, Policy and Research Section.
Having strong political ties and being financially well-off are not the criteria for selection. Hard work, dedication to education and commitment to make a change in your region are the main factors for selection. Aslam Kakar, a Fulbright Global Undergraduate Exchange Program and Fulbright Graduate Program scholar told VOA Deewa, “My father was a truck driver in Pishin, after he passed away my mother raised us on her own.” Aslam graduated from the Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego. He is an Education Consultant at the Oxford Institute and contributing writer /editor at the Pak Tea House.
There are also programs for working professionals, mid-level career professionals and teachers. Kashif Rehman is a recent recipient of the Legislative Fellows Program also funded by the US Department of State – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. He learned about and applied for this program via www.worldlearning.org .
Kashif Rehman is from Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and is affiliated with the development sector. He received his Masters in International Relations from the University of Peshawar. Kashif is the head of an all female household. Being the only male is his immediate family, he is a huge proponent of women’s rights and has encouraged his sisters to apply for various scholarships. Kashif Rehman told VOA Deewa, “There is no limit on how many times you can apply or how many programs you can apply to. It is essential that we push the women in our lives to apply for such opportunities.”
Fulbright Scholarship information:
Information on various exchange programs via the U.S. Department of State: http://exchanges.state.gov/non-us
The United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan: http://www.usefpakistan.org/
How to Write a Personal Statement, courtesy of Rafiullah Kakar: http://www.slideshare.net/rafiullahkakar9/how-to-write-a-50281029