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Civic Initiative alumni recognized for leadership in Pakistan

Jawad Khan, a 2011 alumnus of UMass Civic Initiative’s Young Pakistani Leaders Program, an Amherst-based summer program focused on civic engagement and public policy sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' (ECA), was selected as the Bureau’s Exchange Alumni Member of the Month for December 2013 and profiled in a video produced by the US Embassy in Islamabad. During his six weeks as a participant in the Young Leaders Program, Khan traveled throughout the northeast region of the United States and worked on a fundraising campaign in support of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

Through these collaborative projects that emphasize grassroots organizing and community engagment, “the connections that the Pakistani students make with each other have translated into a very strong network of NGOs,” says Michael Hannahan, director of the UMass Civic Initiative.

Upon completion of the program, Khan returned to Pakistan and formally registered the Organization for the Development of Youth (ODY), a youth-led organization that aims to provide a healthy, positive environment for the youth of Balochistan, a remote region that sits on the Arabian Sea, bordering Afghanistan and Iran. “I have to do something because we are falling way behind,” he says. “I learned how one teacher can set a direction for all his students and he or she can engage them in productive activities.”

Khan continues to be a catalyst for youth leadership training and humanitarian projects as  President of the Balochistan Chapter of the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN), stating, “We have to come out of our past and start moving forward, and by forming strong ties with the rest of the world, so that all of us can excel as a nation.”

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