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UMass Amherst students to discuss changing generational attitudes on media tour in Pakistan

As part of the U.S Embassy’s Study for United States Institutes (SUSI) program in Pakistan, six current and recent UMass Amherst political science students arrived in Islamabad on Monday for a week-long stay, during which they’ll attend an international youth conference, tour some of the region’s landmarks and speak to news outlets there about cross-cultural education and exchange. 

The trip presents a rare opportunity for U.S. undergraduates to be hosted in Pakistan and an ever rarer one to speak with several of the country’s popular media outlets. Although Pakistan is the U.S’s largest student exchange program partner, American undergraduate students have not been hosted there in over 12 years. Originally scheduled for January, the trip was postponed when a large march blocked roads into Islamabad on the day of the students’ intended arrival. 

 The voyage coincides with the International Young Alumni Conference, a gathering of nearly 400 past student exchange students from Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, brought together with an international panel of educational leaders, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs and political leaders. The conference theme, “The Faces of Change, the Changes We Face” examines the attitudes of today’s generation and how those perspectives apply to politics, business, culture and international relations. 

 The UMass group, four males and two females, are all current or recent political science majors, and all have worked with Pakistani students through the UMass Donahue Institute’s Civic Initiative, a democracy education program directed by political science professor Michael Hannahan, who will also be accompanying them on this trip. Each summer, the Civic Initiative organizes and administers the Pakistani Young Leaders Program, a six-week summer program that brings 25 students from Pakistan to the UMass Amherst campus for courses that discuss public policy and democracy within Pakistan and the United States. 

 The International Young Alumni Conference will take place on April 11-14, and several sessions will be livestreamed at, including those presented by experts in international investment, entrepreneurialism and climate change, as well as live performances by up and coming musicians from Pakistan’s burgeoning rock and folk scene. The UMass group will share their journey via blog posts and a twitter feed (@CivicInitiative) using the hashtag #iyac13 and will be available for interviews upon their return. 

 Background: The Civic Initiative is an international democracy education program run by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute. Each summer the program brings students and educators from around the world to the UMass Amherst campus for seminars that address the development and implementation of public policy in the context of current political, social and economic issues.

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