Welcome Note - USEFP Executive Director, Ms. Rita Bruun Akhtar

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Fulbright Program, which now operates in 150 countries. The Fulbright Program in Pakistan, established 66 years ago, is one of the longest running. Since 2005, it is also the largest (in terms of U.S. Government contribution). The premise of the Pakistan Fulbright Program and the theme of this year’s conference is that talented individuals will complete degrees in the United States and return as agents of change.

While each conference is an opportunity to showcase alumni achievement, this year’s theme serves as a special reminder of the contributions of the Fulbright and Humphrey programs to building a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan. This year, we are pleased to announce the launch of the Fulbright Heroes documentary series, produced in collaboration with Fulbright alumna, Haya Fatima Iqbal (Master's in News & Documentary, NYU, 2012). The series is collection of 14 individual videos featuring alumni as they contribute towards the betterment of their community, society, and world. Alumni, such as Neha Mankani, public health professional, midwife, and the founder of the Mama Baby Fund; Umer Adnan, MBA and inventor of the Cowlar - a smart, wearable device for dairy animals; Muhammad Shehryar, founder of Harness Energy, a renewable energy start-up focused on improving energy access to rural communities; and artists like metal smith Amina Rizwan and comedian Shehzad Ghias, are just some of our Fulbright agents of change. To learn more about some of the other Fulbright Heroes we’ve featured, visit: http://bit.ly/2fjY5Cc.

The commitment of returning alumni to share innovative solutions in a variety of fields is reflected in the Conference Program: Language, Higher Education, Art & Culture, Environment, Governance & Public Policy, Law & Order, Health, Gender, Agriculture & Water. Also included in the program are two incredible films: one by Mian Adnan Ahmad, The Journey Within, which he refers as the ‘the Coke Studio origin story’ and Sharmeen Obaid’s Oscar winning Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, co-produced by Fulbrighter, Haya Fatima Iqbal.

Let me take this opportunity to thank you all for participating in this 13th Annual Conference. Special thanks to the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan for hosting this event and for reposing confidence in the Fulbright Program by providing funds for an additional 25 PhD students each year over the next five years. I look forward to learning more from you about how the Fulbright and Humphrey Programs are helping to bring positive change as well as building mutual understanding between the people of Pakistan and the people of the United States.

Ms. Rita Bruun Akhtar
USEFP Executive Director




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