M. M. ALAM
KARACHI: American Ambassador David Hale stated: “The friendship that we made together will deepen the friendship between America and Pakistan for years to come”. He was addressing the 1000 students from the underprivileged quarters of the Metropolis on the occasion of their graduation from a U.S. Department of State-funded Access English-language program.
Speaking on the occasion the Ambassador David Hale expressed his contentment and said that it was a delight to be there and see the smiling faces of a thousand students who were graduating for the English Access Micro-scholarship program: “I also see the proud faces of your teachers who worked close with you during these two years”.
Terming it as their day the Envoy said: “Today is your day and you are no doubt proud of all you have accomplished and learned over the course of the past two years. To your teachers a big thank you. No education is possible without dedicated teachers like you. As for parents and families, only you know how much their support and encouragement has mattered to your success today and every day”.
The US Envoy who speaks Arabic said: “I know learning a second language is hard. I have learned Arabic so trust me I know it takes a serious commitment to stick with the hard task for two years”. Hale went on to muse that most things of value came only with hard work.
Maintaining that Access Program had the potential of transforming lives, David Hale said: “The Access program is helping students develop proficiency in English but it is about far more than that. The varied experiences that you had enhanced your confidence, introduce or expand your ideas about democracy, volunteerism and helped you reach your full potential as citizens and undoubtedly future leaders of Pakistan”.
Quoting examples of the students’ international experiences he said: “For example thanks to Access, several of you here with us today visited NASA Space Center in Alabama, participated in Camps Future Stars in Turkey and travelled to Islamabad to join the Pakistan Access Leaders Institute”.
He went on to inform about Aisha who won a two-year scholarship for International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, in Mexico, and Hyder Ali who got a 2-year scholarship for an International Baccalaureate Diploma in Germany: “I am proud of your accomplishments, both of you Aisha and Hyder, for your accomplishments. Just as I am proud of every one of you 1000 students”.
Addressing the 1000 boys and girls in the audience the Ambassador said: “Just as Aisha and Hyder looked forward to further their studies all of you are Pakistan’s future and its future is in very capable hands. I have seen this first hand that potential of Pakistan’s youth is tremendous. You love learning; you care deeply for your family, your communities and your country. And whatever direction you take, the lessons and knowledge you take with you will last a lifetime”.
Focusing on the importance of English in today’s world the US diplomat held: “Knowing English will open many doors to you. In education, in work and in your culture. And I hope that you will take your English skills and apply in higher education, whether you choose engineering, science, medicine, law, history, art or any other field of study”.
Noticing that those children had participated in community service, he urged that it did not end with Access Program. David Hale said that he had no doubt when those students would get a chance to make a difference and improve their community they would act. “Who else will and can do it better”?
When told that in the last two years those thousand students had learnt a lot about America and Americans, the Envoy said: “Today we mark the end of your time in Access but it does not mark the end of our friendship”.
Urging students to avail the exchange program opportunities like Fulbright programs, David Hale said: “We encourage applying for exchange opportunities in America”.
The US diplomat went on to inform: “You are all now members of the Pakistan United States Alumni Network (PUAN) – the largest network of US Government Exchange Alumni anywhere in the world. And through PUAN stay connected with us at the Consulate, at the Embassy and participate in efforts to strengthen American-Pakistani relationship on a voluntary basis”.
Focusing on the strong possibility of transforming their ideas apropos community service into reality he pointed out: “You can also apply for small grants to fund your ideas for community service and make them a reality. So please talk to my colleagues after the graduation or send us a message on Facebook to get more information. But most importantly please keep in touch with the Consulate Celebrate today all that you have accomplished!”
Conspicuous among others there were US Consul General Brian Heath, US Consulate’s Spokesperson Brian Asmus, Cultural Affairs Officer Li Ping Lo, International Educational & Research Network (IEARN)’s President Farah Kamal and Aisha Amanullah.
IEARN Program Manager Saleem Ibrahim while talking to NewsPakistan.TV/BBC said “Since learning English Language costs a lot US Consulate General’s sponsored English Access Program is the only venue for those children of the most underprivileged areas of Pakistan who endeavor to become Anglophone. He told how shy pupils commence debating and singing in just few months. Informing that he was in the Institute of Business Administration’s Selection Committee for five years, he told that these children from underprivileged milieu get admission in such prestigious institutions due to the confidence they gain through Access Program.
Tossing of Mortar Boards
THE ACCESS PROGRAM: U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs funds the English Access Micro-scholarship Program. The Access program in Pakistan is among the world’s largest. Since its inception in 2004, more than 95,000 students in more than 85 countries have participated. Access provides a foundation of English-language skills to talented 13-18 year-olds from economically disadvantaged areas through after-school classes and intensive enrichment activities. Participants gain skills that may lead to better jobs and educational prospects; they can also compete for and participate in future exchanges and study programs in the United States. The Access program is offered free of charge and helps students develop proficiency in the English language from beginner to intermediate levels, providing them with a variety of experiences to enhance confidence, instill democratic values, volunteerism, and positive civic values and attitudes.