Islamabad - US Ambassador Richard Olson has urged Pakistani students to play their proactive role to strengthen people-to-people contacts between Pakistan and the United States, adding that the US universities were eager to welcome talented and dynamic Pakistani students who in future would lead Pakistan toward peace and prosperity.

He was addressing as chief guest to a group of 120 Pakistani students at the pre-departure briefing regarding the US government-funded Global Undergraduate (Global UGRAD) Programme, organised by the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP).

“We welcome more than 1,000 Pakistanis in the United States each year on our many exchange programmes, which clearly demonstrates the depth of our commitment to Pakistan’s youth,” said Olson in his address, while congratulating the students travelling to the United States for undergraduate study as part of this US government-funded programme.

“Students are the future of Pakistan and anyone who spends time with them knows that they continue to aim high for the future of Pakistan,” he further said.

Earlier, Rita Akhtar, executive director of USEFP, in her welcoming address disclosed that sixty-two per cent of the students are women and that the 2014-15 groups include 240 principal and 40 alternate candidates; 92 students from Punjab, 74 from Sindh, 46 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 28 from Gilgit-Baltistan, 15 from Balochistan, 9 from AJK, 10 from FATA, and 6 from Islamabad capital territory. A total of 240 students will participate in this programme during the 2014-15 academic year.

At the start of the programme, each student receives a “cultural passport to America” which is modelled to look loosely like a US passport. For participation in cultural events and activities, Global UGRAD-Pakistan students receive passport stamps from their university and college advisors, allowing staff to encourage new and diverse experiences for their students. Through the passport, students present and reflect on how they have explored various aspects of US culture, the linkages they’ve forged with Americans throughout the programme and on their plans for sharing US culture with their communities when returning home.

Through US-based training and practical experience in leadership positions, community engagement, and in 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.

The first group of Pakistani Global UGRAD students of the 2014 cohort departed in September of this year and will return later this month, Rita Akhtar further informed.