I believe our experiences make us who we are today. In order to have friendship in your life that you can always celebrate, stories that you never get tired of telling, or the memories you will cherish forever you need to make effort and choices that leads you to such great experience. I was fortunate enough to feel this bliss through U.S Summer Sister Exchange program.
U.S Summer Sister Exchange Program is a program specifically for young Pakistani girls studying in high school giving them an opportunity to attend Summer School in prestigious American Universities. All your travel fares, health insurance, tuition fees and meals are sponsored by U.S. As an alumnae of this program the most frequently asked question from me is that why there isn’t any such thing as U.S Summer Brother Program? The name of this scholarship itself pretty much sums up the idea behind it which is to empower young Pakistani women. The agenda behind the program is to represent that when equal amount of exposure and opportunity is offered to Pakistani women they can be as efficient and effective as men can be.
Challenges Encountered by a Summer Sisters Exchange Student
I-earn and SIE Pakistan are the two organizations responsible for U.S Summer Sister Exchange program. Considering the young age of all candidates they were kind enough to offer us an escort who traveled with us to U.S and back from U.S. Honestly, travelling abroad on your own is completely safe since the airport authorities are all very helpful.
Before going to U.S I felt that I was well prepared to handle all sort of situations. Because in my pre departure orientation and throughout my selection process we were explained on each stage that what sort of challenges might be waiting up for us in U.S and how we are supposed to conduct ourselves over there. Competitive selection process had made me disciplined and all fired up.
Like everyone else I had my fair amount of cultural shock. Food was definitely a task as I had to make sure everything I eat was Halal. Every day I was bombarded with questions about Pakistan and Islam and I tried my level best to remove stereotypes of American people about Pakistan.
My Experience in United States
I was placed in George Washington University and my program was related to travel journalism. Everyday I got to visit different sites and meet diverse groups of people. All those interactions made me realize that even after having such distinct backgrounds we all have common initiatives in life. During the short span of time I spent in U.S, I enjoyed the little freedom of walking freely on street or running errands that were handled mostly by men back home.
All these practices raised a sense of independence in me and gave me an immense level of confidence. The course work that I did during my class helped me acquire skills that I wouldn’t have in any other way. I got exposure to the other part of the world.
Is it all Worth it?
Yes, it is. Most of the girls ask me that what a person can achieve in such short time period. And I answer them that even the most minuscule event in your life can make a great contribution in shaping your personality. Summer Sisters does not only give you an opportunity to travel and explore U.S or remove the cultural barriers between two nations. It gives you once in a lifetime chance to study in one of the world’s most prestigious Universities. Even American students dream of being able to attend Universities such as Harvard University, Georgetown University or Brown University etc. Here in Pakistan we get to attend such splendid programs free of all financial pressures and make discoveries about ourselves and world that can greatly impact our future goals.
Wondering how to apply for such an awesome program? Here you go..
The US Summer Sisters Exchange Program’s Application Process
Females who are currently enrolled in their high schools/colleges (grades 10, 11, 12 and 13) of age 15-18 are eligible to apply for the program. The first step in application process consist of application of course. I like to break down application into two parts. The first part consists of personal information and requirement for documents e.g. transcripts. And the other part consist of an essay and five short questions. I consider every aspect of application to be very important however I feel that essay and short answer question give you a chance to showcase your capabilities and your potential beyond your resume.
The main essay question is about any problem that you have come across in your community or country and what you have done or are planning to do to resolve this issue. I suggest that an applicant should address an issue that they have actually faced rather than picking up ideas from here and there which will make your application sound like an old cliché.
In the second step if your application is selected you are called on for an interview where you are mainly judged on basis of your confidence and flexibility. The entire application process continues for almost six months.
That’s pretty much all folks. Thanks for reading. Wish you all good luck!
– Taha Abbasi