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State Department scholarships bring international students to campus

ISSUED: 16 April 2018
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Two students from Tunisia and Pakistan who are recipients of U.S. Department of State scholarships are wrapping up their studies at Shepherd University. Imen Bouhestine, of Tunis, Tunisia, is at Shepherd through the Thomas Jefferson Scholarship Program for Tunisian undergraduate students. Saliha Nawaz, from Ghizer Gilgit, Pakistan, is spending this semester at Shepherd through the Fulbright Global Undergraduate Cultural and Educational Exchange Program in Pakistan (Global UGRAD-Pakistan).

This is Bouhestine’s second visit to the United States. In 2014 she spent two weeks in a writing and cultural exchange program in Iowa City, Iowa. Bouhestine, who studies management with a specialty in finance, realized the two-week experience didn’t give her enough time to explore American culture, so she applied for a Thomas Jefferson Scholarship. She feels spending a school year at Shepherd has allowed her to experience U.S. culture more, will help make her a better global citizen, and has given her the chance to explore different fields of study—political science and global studies.

“Traveling makes you explore things that you previously ignored,” Bouhestine said. “I always had the tendency toward international relations and diplomacy. After spending the whole year studying political science and global studies, I am definitely going to pursue my grad studies in the field of diplomacy and international studies and hopefully become a diplomat.”

Bouhestine is a member of Shepherd’s Debate Team and Model United Nations. Attending Shepherd has also given her the chance to explore life in rural America.

“I was born and raised my whole life in the capital, Tunis, then I found myself here in Shepherdstown,” she said. “I like how calm and quiet it is and how nature is everything and really appreciated. People are very nice and welcoming. This is a warm atmosphere to be in—not the weather though—but the general atmosphere of the campus is really nice and welcoming, so I really like it.”

Bouhestine already had a semester under her belt when Nawaz arrived in January.

“On my very first day I was seriously amazed to see how teachers started talking to me, introduced me to the rest of the class, and when the rest of them knew I am an international student here they were so welcoming,” Nawaz said. “It was seriously awesome.”

Nawaz is an English major at Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi. At Shepherd she is studying English literature and is taking journalism and music classes.

“I am enjoying whatever I am studying here,” she said. “What I find amazing here is the education system. It’s so unfortunate that back in my own country there is not much research-based learning. That’s what I want to pick from this specific environment and when I am back in my own country soon after completing my degree—I am to get my Ph.D. in English literature as well as education—I want to bring a change in our education system.”

Nawaz has dreamed of coming to the U.S. since childhood. When she was in elementary school, English teachers from the U.S. taught her, and she met many visitors from places like the U.S., England, and France through her parents’ work in multinational companies and nongovernmental organizations.

Nawaz said she did not have any particular expectations of Shepherd prior to coming here. She enjoys engaging in conversation and educating people about what Pakistan is really like.

“When I show the pictures of my country, they say ‘this place is really beautiful,’” Nawaz said. “Then I give what I feel is the true picture of Pakistan. It is always good to tell people what Pakistan is like and to learn about their culture.”

Listen to the interview HERE.

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