Educational Expos: Hunza Serries


Departure from Gilgit: On August 23, 2011 our team of OEC moved to Hunza Valley for OEC Educational Expo serries 2011, at sharp 8:00 am. Our team consisted of Madam Shah Bano (AKES’P), Imtiaz Ali Taj (LUMS), Waseem Khan (NUST), LIaqat Karim (NUST), Nazia Wajid (NUST), Jibran Hayat (FAST), Imran Ahmad (COMSATS), Iftikhar Ahmad (COMSATS), Sania Yousaf (Bahria), Tarick Amin (Sir Syed) and Muhammad Aman Shah (KIU).

Session at Aliabad: Our team reached  Aliabad Hunza at 12:30pm for the  session with students. 24 students participated in the session. Students of class 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th attained the session. Any how our team entertained them collectively as well as individually. We presented a general presentation regarding the opportunities and the services provided by public and private sectors in various fields to furnish the careers of students. Then we gave proper time to individual students to make the session more fruitful and effective. Meanwhile a group of our team members also assigned some activities to access the students’ targets and goals.

Session at Hyderabad: After a successful session at Aliabad we went to Hyderabad at 6:00 pm. There were around 120 students from all over the Hyderabad cluster. Our team was confident and was encouraged by the crowed. Unfortunately we could not conclude our session due to shortage of time; however our team experts gave full information about the field of engineering; as majority of the students were willing to set a career in the field of engineering.

Session at AKHSS, Karimabad: On August 24, 2011 our team reached at AKHSS, Hunza, Karimabad at 9:30 am. A big crowed of around 170 students inspired our team, with bright and shining dreams about their future careers. An enriched literal and civilized environment was provided by the family of AKHSS, Hunza. Our team had the same schedule that we followed at Aliabad. It was an excellent and fruitful session. Our team also learned a lot of strategies for future planning of such similar sessions.

Report by:
M Aman Ali Shah
BSc(hon) Karakorum International University. Gilgit
OEC Blog Exclusive

OEC Mobile Helpline: Making educational info accessible

Nowadays, cellular networks are rapidly expanding their services to far flung areas. The organization decided to use this powerful tool to spread career information to far flung areas of Gilgit-Baltistan. We have launched a mobile helpline, through which we entertain any queries related to career information that a student from any region of Gilgit-Baltistan may have, without charging any fee. This service was formally started on 16th January 2011 and up till now we have entertained dozens of queries from all over Gilgit-Baltistan.

(Note: We strictly provide information related to  university admission and  scholarships not advisory and every information provided might be subject to periodical changes, organization don’t bears responsibility for any changes)

Director OEC Helpline:                                Resource Person:

Karim Ullah                                                          Nadeem Gul
BS Electrical Engineering                                   BS Electronics
FAST-NU Peshawer                                           GIKI, Topi

One student’s journey from small-town Balochistan to Harvard University

Source: The Express Tribune

One student’s journey from small-town Balochistan to Harvard University

By Maria Waqar

Located on the outskirts of Quetta, is the barren valley of Mariabad where the Hazara lead slow-paced lives. These tribal people, living in narrow brick huts speckled along the rugged hillside, typically sell loose cloth, sweaters or tea for their livelihood. Like most poor people, their aspirations rarely go beyond sustaining themselves in this underdeveloped nook of Balochistan. Many of them live and die in Mariabad — unaware of the complex concerns and tremendous pace of life in urban centres like Karachi and Lahore. But one student — the son of a trader who sold Quaid-e-Azam style caps in Mariabad for a living — dared to tread a radically different path.

Karrar Hussain Jaffar transcended the confines of an obscure town in Balochistan, where people rarely educate themselves beyond matriculation, to study at the prestigious Harvard University. His story — a narrative about the wondrous possibilities of equal educational opportunities — is truly inspirational. “My childhood friends, with whom I spent my youth playing cricket, drive suzukis and rickshaws in Quetta for a living, while I am a PhD student in the US,” says Karrar in a humble tone. “I often wonder why God chose me, out of all the people in my community, to get ahead in life?” Karrar attributes his educational achievement to his father’s passion for his children’s higher education.

He vividly remembers the chilly morning when his father showed him the ad for Lahore University of Management Sciences’ national outreach programme (NOP), which aimed to sponsor education and living expenses for capable students who could not have afford to pay. “I was doing my FSc at Cadet college and didn’t even know a single thing about LUMS at that point in time,” he fondly recollects. “I didn’t take the ad seriously because LUMS did not offer engineering, the field I was interested in.” When he returned back to college from his winter break, he attended a presentation by a LUMS’ faculty member, who introduced students to the national outreach programme. “At the end of the presentation we all took a pre-screening exam,” he explains. “A few weeks later, I got a letter from LUMS inviting me to attend sponsored classes for SAT preparation.”

During the four weeks he spent rigorously studying for the SATs, he fell in love with LUMS. To him the institution seemed otherworldly; its grand building, spacious classrooms and impressive teachers fascinated him. “I never knew things could be so orderly and perfect; it was like I was in a foreign country,” he remarks. “I felt very motivated to study hard and join the institution.” But his herculean struggle with English often left him frustrated. “I had always dismissed English as a colonial remnant in our country so I really struggled while preparing for the test.” Yet with utmost dedication, Karrar managed to clear the screening exam at the end of the four-week training and was selected to take the SAT exams, sponsored by the university. After obtaining an impressive score in his SATs, Karrar got admitted in LUMS and was offered a full scholarship and a monthly stipend. “I came to LUMS in very high spirits,” reminisces the bright student. But Karrar, who had attended the NOP training program at LUMS during the quiet summer break, had never seen the institution in full semestral bloom.

When he saw throngs of students, clad in western wear and fluent in English, emerging from every nook and cranny, his excitement gave way to culture shock. “I was used to wearing shalwar kamiz, but at LUMS most people were wearing jeans. I would greet people by saying salaam, while the other students would ask ‘what’s up?’” he recollects in an amused tone. Often feeling like a misfit during his first year at university, Karrar mostly spent his days with other NOP students. “But after a year I managed to befriend other students from Lyceum and Karachi Grammar school.” He sheepishly adds, “After a year I figured out that ‘what’s up?’ is equivalent to saying salaam.” Karrar graduated on the Dean’s honour list, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.7 and 3.68 in his majors, Maths and Economics, respectively. “I got job offers in the banking industry after graduating but I turned them down because I wanted to tread an academic path,” he explains in a categorical tone.

A year after graduating, Karrar got a Fulbright scholarship to study in the US. “I simply told the interview panel that I want to come back to Balochistan after completing my studies. That’s where my home is; that’s where I belong,” he explains passionately. But perhaps the most memorable moment in his life — an incident he recalls quite animatedly — was when he found out that he made it to Harvard University. “I had no internet at home in Mariabad so I walked 15 minutes or so to a nearby internet cafe to check my email for Harvard’s decision,” he explains. “When I saw the acceptance email, I just thought it was too good to be true.”

Yet after he raced back home to reveal the news to his parents, his moment of rapture soon transformed into a session of lengthy clarification. “My mother asked me what Harvard was and my father asked me to wait for potential offers by other universities” he says with a laugh. “It took a while to convince them that I got into the world’s top university.” But ironically for a student, who was left disconcerted by the ‘westernised’ student body at LUMS, adjusting to life at an American institution was smooth sailing. “After LUMS, I was very used to being around different types of people so studying and living in the US was not such a problem.”

Karrar completed his Master’s last year and is currently pursuing a PhD in Economics from the University of Southern California. What does he want to do with all the knowledge he is amassing? “I want to increase educational awareness in Balochistan—particularly amongst people from my community,” he says. The young academic’s goal might seem like the reiteration of the clichéd promise of “development” that many educated Pakistan promise their country.

However, Karrar is actually a first-hand witness of how education can revolutionize communities and places. “Because of all that I achieved, my parents allowed my sister to get college education in Lahore and my brother got the motivation to get a scholarship to study in Australia,” he says with a hint of pride. Karrar confesses that most of his family and friends cannot even comprehend what his life is like in the US. But he is fairly confident that after he returns, he can change that. “I can make them realise the value of education,” he says.

Originally Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2011.