I am 17 years old and an ASSE YES Exchange student from Karachi, Pakistan. I was very excited to get the opportunity to come to the United States of America. This was something that I prayed for and it was like a dream come true.
I am visually impaired and have had very little vision my entire life. In Pakistan, where I attended a school for the blind, there are many challenges and few opportunities for blind people. I’ve learned the opposite is true here in the U.S. What I’ve learned here [in the US] is more than I could possibly write about in a few short paragraphs.
When Muhammad, a U.S. Department of State-funded Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) student from Pakistan, first arrived in the United States, he had no idea what to expect. But, he brimmed with excitement at the opportunity to experience life in America. His exchange experience was unique because he would be experiencing true immersion in not just one, but two non-native languages: English and American Sign Language (ASL).
When Abdul Salam Mehsood, a software engineering student, was chosen by the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan for the U.S. Department of State sponsored Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan (Global UGRAD Pakistan) to spend a semester studying at a U.S. college, he did not know what to expect. He thought, the United States was not a Muslim country, and Americans would probably have a different way of viewing the world and him because of his religion. They also might have a different way of thinking about him because of his disability.