Studying in the U.S. as a Global UGRAD student has not only had an impact on my academic skills, but it has also expanded my career scope, perspectives, and increased my awareness. I enjoyed every single aspect of the program starting from community service to living with an American roommate. Even though it wouldn’t be accurate to call any country perfect, there are certain aspects of the U.S. that I believe my country can learn from and vice versa.
Through funds from the Cultural Enrichment Allowance, I participated in the American Model United Nations Conference. I represented Pakistan, a fellow South Asian country, that shares certain socioeconomic interests with my own country, India. I was a delegate in the ECOSOC commission which helped me understand the economics of the real world. It also helped me develop my communication and negotiating skills.
This experience made such a great impact on me that I have decided to bring it back home with me. While Model U.N. Societies already exists in India, they are in a way exclusively only for the most elite circuits. I am now looking for ways to make it accessible for underprivileged members of society and possibly introducing this through vernacular languages!
As a Global UGRAD, I found one Tamil saying to be true — கற்றது கை மண் அளவு. கல்லாதது உலகளவு! (Kaṟṟatu kai maṇ aḷavu. Kallātatu ulakaḷavu!). In English this means, what you have already learned is about the volume of soil you can hold in your hand, while what you have yet to learn is the size of this whole wide world! This program made me realize how true this statement really is!
Overall, my experience in the U.S. was satisfying. The people around me made me always feel at home. While being back home is nice, I miss Minnesota. However, thanks to our End of Program Summit in D.C., I was prepared for the reverse culture-shock and transition!
Written by Athiphan Anbumani, 2018-19 Global UGRAD student from India at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities