When young Pakistanis excel at home and abroad it makes Pakistan proud as well as negates the impression that we are a land of terrorists and losers. Sadia Irfan is a brilliant Class 10 student of SLS Montessori and School and she has done her country; her school and her parents proud by being a very successful ‘cultural and goodwill ambassador’ to the United States.
SLS Montessori and School is a member of the International Education and Resource Network — Pakistan (iEARN) and for nine consecutive years the school has been providing opportunities to its 9th and 10th class students to study in the US on full scholarship through iEARN’s Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Programme. In 2009 after an initial evaluation, Sadia was short listed for the Secondary Level English Proficiency (SLEP) test held in Karachi, which she cleared — and the subsequent interview — with flying colours and was among the top scorers. She says getting selected for the YES scholarship —- a one-year programme to live and study in the US for free — was a dream come true. “It was a privilege,” she said, “to be part of a prestigious programme where the level of competition was so high that only a few students from all over Pakistan got the opportunity to get selected.”
Talking about her experience Sadia said her journey from Pakistan to the Untied States was as thrilling as a roller coaster ride with some ups and a few downs, but generally very exhilarating. The warm welcome and kind attitude of everyone in the US made her adjustment phase very easy. Prior to her departure she had prepared herself to be the “cultural ambassador” of Pakistan, a position, which she considered exciting. However, thousands of miles away from her home she realised that this was no small responsibility, yet she was not intimidated and got involved in various co-curricular activities such as playing soccer, Nordic skiing, tennis, cheerleading and acting, along with being an active member of several clubs. She maintained her good grades and was privileged to be in the “A Honours Role”. She was awarded several awards and certificates while getting recognised by Villa Rica High School (VRHS) Georgia for being “the student of the year,” as she maintained her G.P.A of 3.8 throughout. She was also given the opportunity to participate in the convocation where she received her degree. Sadia was awarded a shield for being on the school tennis team and playing at University level. Upon completion of this successful year she was given a certificate by the US Department of State for being an exchange student.
After her return, Sadia is working as SLS Representative for Youth Affairs and is energetically involved in different programmes to share her experiences of iEARN. Her recent achievement includes being selected to represent iEARN-YES Alumni Pakistan at the International Youth Conference and Festival from December 6-9, in Islamabad, which is being organised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs in collaboration with Miradore Productions and Young International Club. About three hundred participants will gather from more than twenty countries and attend sessions and activities designed for capacity building regarding the following four themes: Role of Youth In Peace Building; Disaster Management; the role of Sports and Culture in Bridging Gaps and Drugs and General Health Issues Among the Youth. “I am thankful to my parents, my school, iEARN Pakistan and all those who believed that I was capable enough to be a part of the responsibility of being an “ambassador” of my country and getting the opportunity to spend a year in US,” she says with a smile.