INTERNATIONAL GRADUATES: PAKISTANI FULBRIGHT ALUMNI ON THEIR RETURN TO PAKISTAN
Dr. Maria Staton1*, Rabeya Jalil2
1Assistant Professor, Ball State University, USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
2Assistant Professor, Beaconhouse National University, PAKISTAN, email@example.com
The study contributes to the under-explored topic of international alumni and their professional activities back in the home countries, and especially the impact such activities may have on the alumni’s communities. The study is based on interviews with six Pakistani Fulbright alumni, three males and three females, who had graduated from art and design institutes in the U.S. in the last seven years; the alumni discuss the influence of their U.S.A. experience on their teaching and involvement in the community. The interviews sought the answers to the following two questions: 1. What was the impact of the Fulbright program on the alumni’s teaching? and 2. What were the alumni’s perceptions, informed by their Fulbright period, of the cross-national humanistic influence of art on human relations? The questions were informed by the recently acknowledged fact that art practice is an effective means of reaching out across groups of society. Educators’ experience confirms that art helps students to interact with peers of different social backgrounds; practicing art allows students to communicate more deeply and has a harmonizing effect for all the participants. It was hypothesized that Fulbright experience may trigger off changes in the alumni’s pedagogy towards a more student-oriented approach; it was also hypothesized that Fulbright alumni may see more clearly the link between student-oriented teaching and humanistic relations in society, especially between the less privileged and more privileged groups of population. The results of the study included the following. All six interviewees pointed out that the Fulbright program had a positive impact on their teaching and academic experiences. Specifically, it enabled them to move from lecturing to more interactive student-centered teaching styles. Examples included taking students out of the classroom into real-life settings, giving more value to a “relational, interactive and collaborative space” rather than just a “speculative one,” and practicing inclusive pedagogy (teaching autistic and deaf students). Likewise, all six interviewees indicated that there is a link between their innovative pedagogy and broader humanistic projects which they have launched since their return to Pakistan. The study concluded that when interacting with domestic students, the Fulbright graduates were transferring the skills they received abroad, thus becoming informal ambassadors of new ideas and practices. In this respect, Fulbright graduates have potential to influence Pakistan’s academic and cultural development; therefore, it is important to establish closer contacts with them, as well as maintain these links for extended time.
Keywords: international alumni, Fulbright Program, art and design education, Pakistan, United States
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