OJC welcomes Global UGRAD Fellows from Tajikistan and Pakistan

Iftihor Muhtorov from Tajikistan (on left) and Maryam Gul Rajput (center) from Pakistan are pictured with OJC President Jim Rizzuto. Both students are attending OJC as Global UGRAD fellows.

LA JUNTA — Otero Junior College is pleased to welcome two new international student to campus as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Eurasia and Central Asia (Global UGRAD) and Pakistan. Joining the Otero Junior College student body are Iftihor Muhtorov from Tajikistan and Maryam Gul Rajput from Pakistan.

 The goal of the Global UGRAD Program is to advance youth leadership and promote mutual understanding by providing one year of non-degree US study to undergraduates from 12 countries of the former Soviet Union and one semester of non-degree US study for undergraduates from Pakistan. In addition to their academic studies, Global UGRAD fellows perform community service and explore American traditions through the unique Cultural Passport to America program. Fellows in the Eurasia and Central Asian program will also hold a one-semester internship during their spring semester.

 The Global UGRAD program is highly competitive, averaging over 3000 applications per year with a 5 percent rate of acceptance. Iftihor Muhtorov, from Tajikistan, will be the 12th fellow that Otero Junior College has hosted since joining the program in 2004.

 The Global UGRAD-Pakistan program was initiated in the fall of 2010 and Maryam Gul Rajput is the second student hosted at Otero Junior College representing that program. According to Rochelle Wallace, director of International Programs at OJC, both fellows are anxious to jump in and get involved in the community.

 “They are looking forward to learning more about our American culture as well as having the opportunity to share their culture with the campus and community. I would encourage anyone who would like to have them present a program to their club or organization to give me a call,” said Wallace.

 The Global Undergraduate Exchange Programs in Eurasia and Central Asia, and in Pakistan, are programs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State and is administered by the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX). Since 1992, the Eurasia and Central Asia program has welcomed nearly 4,000 participants who have helped to create diversity and cultural richness on over 140 campuses throughout the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii.

 The program aims to advance youth leadership and promote mutual understanding by providing one academic term of non-degree undergraduate US study on a highly competitive basis to a diverse group of emerging student leaders from underrepresented sectors of Eurasia, Central Asia and Pakistan.

 In addition to their academic studies, Global UGRAD fellows perform community service and explore American traditions through the unique Cultural Passport to America program. While interacting with Americans in the community and on campus, Global UGRAD fellows develop a more well-rounded perception of American culture. They go on to share this understanding of the U.S. with friends, family, and others in their communities back home.

 Global UGRAD fellows are also “ambassadors” for their countries. Many of them are the only representative of their country on campus. Their unique perspectives and backgrounds enrich the learning experience for American students. Global UGRAD fellows also give presentations about their country and cultures at local schools, Rotary clubs, elderly homes, and other locations, reaching thousands of Americans each year.  Maryam Gul Rajput from Pakistan, will be presenting a program on Pakistan on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 12:15 p.m. in Wheeler Library. The presentation is open to the public.

 For more information about the Global UGRAD fellows, or to schedule a presentation from them about their countries, contact Rochelle Wallace, director of international programs at OJC, at 719-384-6805.

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