Pakistani exchange student learns value of cultural exchange
Amina Lnu has wanted to study in the U.S. for a long time, and when she found out she was coming to a university in Texas, the Pakistani national became even more excited.
“When I was selected, I was so happy I started dancing,” Lnu said. “Going to college in the U.S. has been my dream, and the people I’ve met here have been so friendly and welcoming.”
Lnu came to the University of Houston-Victoria as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan. Global UGRAD-Pakistan uses U.S.-based training and practical experience in leadership positions, community engagement and professional fields to help undergraduate students gain the skills needed to implement long-term civic and economic changes in their communities.
Through semester-long programs of study, exploration of U.S. culture, leadership development and integration into U.S. communities, Global UGRAD-Pakistan students develop a broad understanding of U.S. values and become citizen ambassadors who support expanded diplomatic and development partnerships, said Ludmi Herath, UHV International Programs director.
“Working with the UGRAD program allows UHV to be placed equally among other campuses in the nation,” said Ludmi Herath, UHV International Programs director. “This puts UHV on the map for international students as well as lets others know that we are a destination university that offers high-ranking programs for students from all walks of life.”
When she first came to the U.S., Lnu was amazed at the differences in culture from her homeland. From the clothes and food to cultural traditions, there were so many things to learn and experience.
“It’s just the total opposite as home,” she said. “I realized that part of the beauty of American culture is that I can be part of this, too. I’ve adopted some of my favorite parts, and I am looking forward to sharing them with people back home.”
As part of her participation in the UGRAD-Pakistan program, Lnu will participate in several cultural exchange programs. She already has presented information about Pakistani culture during International Programs Office events on UHV campus. She also will participate in the UHV International Festival from 6 to 8:30 p.m. April 12 in Jaguar Hall Commons, 2705 Houston Highway.
The opportunity to study in the U.S. and experience different cultures has made a major impact on her life, Lnu said, and she is grateful to her family for supporting her desire to study abroad. Now, she is looking forward to sharing what she has learned with her friends and family.
One major part of U.S. culture Lnu wants to take home with her is how equal rights are available for men and women.
“There’s an attitude here that a girl can do anything boys can do,” she said. “In Pakistan, there are much stricter standards for what women can and can’t do. Seeing that equality in action made me be more social and independent. Now I’ve made friends from all around the world.”
During the International Festival, Lnu will host a booth with a poster containing pictures and information about Pakistan and serve a traditional Pakistani dish. She also will participate in the event’s International Fashion Show with an outfit from her homeland.
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as a teaching center in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities, and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.