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Global Undergraduate Exchange program at BHSU includes community service, internship and academic components

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, October 15, 2019/Categories: Students, Academic Affairs, Community, 2019

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Black Hills State University continues its collaboration with a U.S. Department of State-sponsored program welcoming six new students from Pakistan and Tunisia to campus this year.
Black Hills State University continues its collaboration with a U.S. Department of State-sponsored program welcoming six new students from Pakistan and Tunisia to campus this year.

The six students on campus are recognized as highly motivated undergraduate student leaders.  The goal of the U.S. Department of State program is to promote greater understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries, including future world leaders.

Eric Leise, director of International Relations at BHSU, says the Global Undergraduate Exchange Programs for Pakistan and Tunisia (UGRAD-Pakistan and Tunisia UGRAD) benefit all countries involved. By coming to the U.S., students are able to share their unique viewpoints and backgrounds bringing a global perspective to their host communities, and share this understanding of the U.S. with their communities when they return home.

“These U.S. Department of State-sponsored programs provide an opportunity and way to build knowledge and understanding of civic society for countries that are rebuilding.”

Transitioning to life in a different culture and country can be difficult. BHSU tries to alleviate the stress of homesickness and help make that transition by planning cultural excursions and getting the students involved on and off campus.

“BHSU provides a comprehensive orientation for the Pakistani and Tunisian students and organizes civic engagement activities before their arrival. We also meet with A’viands to secure any dietary needs like Halal for practicing Muslims,” Leise explains.

Students have the opportunity to participate on campus in any of the organizations and clubs. Currently, the UGRAD-Pakistan and Tunisa UGRAD students are involved in Global Jackets and give cultural presentations about their homes and lives. The students also took a cultural excursion to Crazy Horse, Mt. Rushmore, and the Buffalo Round-Up event in September.

Ghaida, an English Literature major from Tunisia has learned a lot about herself in the short amount of time on campus. “Being it’s my first time away from home, I’ve learned how to be more independent and responsible. I’ve also discovered that I love to learn about other cultures, and hope to be more open-minded when I return to Tunisia.”

As a part of the Department of State-sponsored programs, participants are required to complete 20 hours of community service, and a “Cultural Passport.” The purpose of the passport is to expose the students to social/cultural events that they wouldn’t normally see back home. On top of that, Tunisia UGRAD students are expected to complete an unpaid internship.

Ghaida is involved in other clubs and activities including the Collegiate Outdoor Leadership Program (COLP) and she completed a BHSU Leadership Retreat. She hopes to go beyond her 20 hours of community service to really immerse herself in American culture and make the most out of the experience.

Participating students this semester are:
  • Sarra, International Relations major, Tunisia
  • Koussay, International Relations major, Tunisia
  • Fareeha, Chemistry, Pakistan
  • Ghaida, English Literature, Tunisia
  • Versha, Medical Sciences, Pakistan
  • Syed Jawad Murtaza, Business Administration, Pakistan
About International Relations at BHSU
The Office of International Relations fosters engagement in global communities by our students, faculty and staff. We do so by promoting the lifelong benefits of studying abroad and invigorating Spearfish and the region with a diverse student body, which represents more than 25 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, the Middle East, and South America. For more information about our office and BHSU’s global engagements, visit www.BHSU.edu/International, call 605-642-6942, or email International@BHSU.edu

About the partnerships
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) fosters mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries. ECA programs promote friendly and peaceful relations, as mandated by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. ECA accomplishes its mission through a range of programs based on the benefits of mutual understanding, international educational and cultural exchange, and leadership development. ECA exchange program alumni encompass over one million people around the world, including more than 80 Nobel Laureates and more than 575 current and former heads of state and government. For more information about ECA exchanges, visit http://exchanges.state.gov. For press inquiries please email ECA-Press@state.gov.

The International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) is a global development and education organization striving for a more just, prosperous, and inclusive world. With an annual portfolio of $80 million and 400 staff worldwide, IREX works with partners in more than 100 countries in four areas essential to progress: cultivating leaders, empowering youth, strengthening institutions, and increasing access to quality education and information. The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX. IREX also administers the Thomas Jefferson Scholarship Program in Tunisia. IREX also administers the Thomas Jefferson Scholarship Program in Tunisia. For more information about IREX, visit www.irex.org.
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