NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University became the first historically black university to host the Fulbright Pakistan Re-entry Seminar that was held April 25-28.
Dr. Jewell Winn, executive director for International Affairs and diversity officer for TSU, said the seminar was to help students from Pakistan, who have studied in the United States for two to seven years, prepare for the culture shock they may experience when they return home. The seminar is funded through a grant from the Institute of International Education (IIE),
“When you’ve been away from home for an extended period of time in a totally different culture and out of your country, you’ve gone through a culture shock for the most part. When you return, it’s called reverse culture shock. Now you have to go back home and reenter your culture,“ said Winn, who serves as chair of the International Committee as part of her role on the board of the National Association of Diversity Officers In Higher Education.
Winn said the conference is designed to give participants an opportunity to reflect on their experiences in the U.S. and set goals for their lives upon returning to Pakistan based upon the information they have learned while studying in the America.
Dr. Latif Lighari, associate administrator for Extension in the College of Agriculture and a native of Pakistan, took part in a re-entry seminar in the late 1970s after completing his studies at the University of Missouri Columbia.
Lighari, who will serve as the keynote speaker during the opening dinner on Thursday evening, said these type of re-entry seminars are vital for students returning to Pakistan.
“This re-entry seminar is extremely important. This is over 100 Fulbright graduates from Pakistan who have completed their masters and doctorial degrees in this country in many different fields, from arts to science to engineering. They are 50 percent male and 50 percent female,” said Lighari, who serves as co principal investigator for the project. “Being from Pakistan myself, I know how much education is valued and needed there. Now that these young people have finished their degrees here, we want to make some suggestions as to how they can work together in the future and work positively and constructively together to use their talents to transform Pakistan.”
The agenda for the four-day seminar included sessions on social entrepreneurship, goal-setting, skill-building and a virtual alumni panel for Ph.D. students that connected them with Fulbright alumni in Islamabad who discussed their backgrounds, professional careers and how they navigated their return to Pakistan.
Students took thematic site visits to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, the Nashville Incubation Center and the Nashville International Airport as well as tour the Frist Art Museum, Historic Union Station and Hotel and SoBro, the area downtown south of Broadway which includes the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Bridgestone Arena, the Music City Center and a host of restaurants, hotels and live music venues.
Winn said the thematic visits gave the participants “a deep look into how social enterprise works in Nashville, how entrepreneurship is viewed in Nashville, and how an organization can develop a strong diversity program.
Lighari said the seminar, which was hosted last year at the University of California, Berkley, is one of many re-entry seminars Fulbright sponsors for graduates returning to their home countries. He said the mission of the seminar mirrors the work he does with the TSU Cooperative Extension Program.
“Cooperative Extension is an outreach arm of Tennessee State University. We engage people all the time in areas of agriculture, family and consumer sciences, youth development and community resource development. The main idea of Extension is to help people get research-based information so they can live better lives,” he said. “Our mission for extension in this country is to build people so the people that we build can become better individuals who can build better families, communities and countries.”
For more information about the TSU Office and International Affiars and the TSU Cooperative Extension Program, visit www.tnstate.edu
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