Welcome Note - USEFP Executive Director

My experience as an American in Pakistan has been long and endlessly interesting and rewarding. I came to Pakistan in 1976 on an academic exchange program, then again in the 1980s, on the Berkeley Urdu Language Program in Pakistan (BULPIP 11) and as a Fulbrighter on the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. Two of these three exchange experiences were hosted by USEFP, the organization I now have the honor to lead. I have lived in Pakistan since 1992 and my children have grown up in Islamabad as dual nationals - proud of both their Pakistani and American heritage. I am therefore personally and deeply invested in the theme of this year’s conference, celebrating 70 years of Pakistan- U.S. friendship.

The Fulbright and Hubert H. Humphrey Programs represent so much more than an opportunity to study abroad. They offer an opportunity to understand a world beyond our own and in the process to understand ourselves much better. As Senator Fulbright put it, “... Man's struggle to be rational about himself, about his relationship to his own society and to other peoples and nations involves a constant search for understanding among all peoples and all cultures--a search that can only be effective when learning is pursued on a worldwide basis.” [From the Forward of The Fulbright Program: A History] Without this exchange experience in Pakistan, I’m sure I would have a much poorer understanding of our shared humanity and a much poorer appreciation of the beauty of cultural diversity. No doubt, all our program alumni would say the same regarding their experiences in the United States.

Access to higher education in the United States is, of course, a great benefit provided to our Pakistani Fulbrighters through the support of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. Returning home richer in knowledge and experience, our Fulbright and Humphrey alumni make important contributions to Pakistan’s development. These exchanges are also about building long-lasting friendships, sharing stories, and developing ideas that strengthen mutual understanding between Pakistan and the United States. We also recognize the importance of bringing more Americans to Pakistan.

Since USEFP’s establishment in 1950, people-to-people exchanges have brought our countries closer and promoted cooperation and understanding in times of both peace and strife. Program alumni have been at the forefront of this cooperation. I hope that we will continue to have a robust program of exchanges for at least another 70 years.

Let me take this opportunity to thank you all for deciding to be a part of our 14th Annual Conference. This year, we would like to extend our warmest thanks to the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) for hosting us. Thanks too, as always, to the Alumni Department at USEFP for continuing to push the boundaries of possibility, ensuring that each year our conference experience is more memorable than the last.

I’m looking forward to meeting you all in Karachi!

Ms. Rita Bruun Akhtar
USEFP Executive Director




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