In April 2016, the Institute for South Asia Studies at UC Berkeley was awarded a grant from the Institute of International Education and the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to host the 2016 Fulbright Pakistan Social Entrepreneurship and Re-entry Seminar. After months of organizing, the ISAS hosted 130 Pakistani students for a four-day seminar from April 27 – May 1. This seminar (full agenda can be found HERE) prepared the students for their return home and introduced them to the field of social enterprise.
The welcoming dinner at the Oakland Marriott City Center began with remarks from MUNIS FARUQUI, Professor in the Dept of SSEAS and Co-Chair of the Berkeley Pakistan Initiative. Welcoming the students to Berkeley, Professor Faruqui spoke about the history of the Berkeley Pakistan Initiative and introduced the next set of speakers. DAVID RANZ from the Department of State congratulated the students on the completion of their Fulbright programs. AMBASSADOR JILANI to the U.S. from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan reminded the students of the immense impact that they could make in Pakistan because of this program. The evening keynote speaker was AMRA TAREEN, the President of Organization of Pakistani Entrepreneurs (OPEN) Silicon Valley. Speaking from her own experience in enterprise, Amra delivered an inspiring lecture and encouraged the students to use their passions and interests to contribute to Pakistan.
Following a successful opening dinner, the students were connected the next day via Skype to twelve Pakistani Fulbright alumni. This VIRTUAL ALUMNI PANEL provided the students with an opportunity to hear how the alumni used their degrees to further their professional career and how they navigated their return to Pakistan. After the panel, the U.S. Educational Foundation in Pakistan showed videos of Fulbright alumni that had actually started social enterprises in Pakistan such as BUSHRA RAHIM and OMAR ADNAN. These videos showed the potential that these Fulbright students have to make change in Pakistan.
Many of these 130 students had never met each other before. Coming from different institutions across the US and from a diverse range of disciplines, this was the first time that many of them were meeting their fellow Fulbrighters. SANCHITA SAXENA, Executive Director of the ISAS, broke the ice and had the students introduce themselves to someone new through a game. This allowed the students to break away from their discipline and meet others from different universities. Further contributing to this interdisciplinary space was TATHEER HAMDANI from Habib University who spoke to the students about the interdisciplinary space that Habib University is striving to provide in Karachi.
The students then began a workshop that aimed to help them navigate their return to Pakistan. Led by Jason Patent, Jess Delegencia, and Lauren Moloney-Egnatios from the CENTER FOR INTERCULTURAL LEADERSHIP at UC Berkeley, this workshop provided students with the opportunities to integrate what they had learned in the US with their life at home and to their future career decisions. This session provided the students with the opportunity to create a supportive community. Students such as SARAH HUSSAIN and MADIHA PARVEZ used this opportunity to reflect on their time in the US and share their perspective on how they would use the Fulbright experience to contribute to Pakistan. DILAWAR SYED, President of Freshdesk and OPEN Global, continued the theme of civic innovation in Pakistan during his evening keynote lecture. Drawing from his experiences in Sialkot and with the White House, Dilawar provided examples of how the students could impact Pakistan.
Recognizing the power and privileges of the Fulbright program was a significant theme during this seminar. In an engaging workshop on Friday morning, Dean SUDHA SHETTY taught participants how to map their own individual power and networks. After students realized their own resources, she then had them work in interdisciplinary groups to address issues such as PROMOTING WOMEN IN STEM and CHILDREN’S EDUCATION. This workshop prepared the students to begin thinking about how they could all become social entrepreneurs by using their existing talents.
The remainder of the day focused on social enterprise and began with a PANEL on social enterprise. GEORGE SCHARFFENBERGER from UC Berkeley provided an introduction to social enterprise while RICHARD MARTINEZ, CHAD STERBENZ, and ASIM FAYAZ all provided insights from their own social enterprises. UMAR AKRAM, a Cal student, gave an example of a social enterprise that was started by Pakistani students at Berkeley but seeks to improve maternal care in Pakistan.
After hearing about the theory of social enterprise, the Fulbrighters then split into various groups to visit social enterprises located in the Bay Area. These social enterprises worked on a diverse group of issues from working on affordable solar energy, providing VOCATIONAL TRAINING for substance abusers and convicted criminals or using the power of film to market your social innovation. The day then culminated in a trip to Fisherman’s Wharf and dinner at two iconic San Francisco restaurants, Hard Rock Café and Bubba Gump.
On the final day of the seminar, the Fulbright students were invited to attend the annual forum held by the Silicon Valley chapter of OPEN. At the forum, students were able to hear from successful entrepreneurs on a range of topics from McDONALD’S MARKETING STRATEGY to PANORAMIC VIDEOS. It also provided the students with UNPARALLELED NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES as one student successfully distributed over thirty business cards. Additional photos from the forum can be found here.
All 130 students came together at the Oakland Marriott for the final closing dinner. Welcoming the students and congratulating them on the completion of their Fulbright program was LAWRENCE COHEN, Director of the ISAS. The students then had a chance to reflect on the last few days and to share their HOPES and ideas for the future. It was extremely inspiring to see that after a short four days the students came together to support each other in various ideas such as promoting HIGHER EDUCATION IN GILGIT, providing deaf/mute children with ACCESS TO EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES, MAKING ROAD SIGNS ACCESSIBLE to the blind, REBRANDING PAKISTAN, and an app to provide HEALTH CARE access to remote areas of Pakistan. Led by ASIM FAYAZ, this session was truly amazing and a testament to how passionate and brilliant these students are. The final speech provided by BROOKE PEARSON from the Department of State allowed the students to reflect on how the Fulbright program means more than just an education but it is also a means to create social impact in the world. The night ended with two Fulbright students THANKING the Institute of International Education for providing them with the opportunity to be in the program.
This seminar was an incredible opportunity for the Institute for South Asia Studies to not only strengthen existing connections but to expand our network to incorporate a brilliant group of Pakistani students. We look forward to the possibility of hosting other such orientations and to working with the Institute of International Education and Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs further!