Daud Arif, a B.A. Sociology 3rd year student at Jamia, was recently selected for the prestigious Near East, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa Undergraduate Exchange Program (NESA UGRAD); an year-long U.S. Department of State sponsored cultural and academic exchange program.
Arif left for the U.S. on August 16 and has already spent a few days going through the program at his new university, the Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.
We recently talked to Arif to find out more about the program and his experience in the U.S.
Below is an email interview Jamia Journal conducted with Arif:
Jamia Journal (JJ): First off, congratulations on getting this great opportunity to study in the U.S. Tell us a little about the NESA UGRAD exchange program.
Daud Arif (DA): Well, the NESA UGRAD exchange program is operated by the U.S Department of State in association with World Learning. The program takes young student representatives from undergraduate courses from countries of Middle east, South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa to visit the U.S, study for a one year diploma degree program in any course of their choice, get them involved in community service, make them undergo professional internships to help them have commercial exposure. It’s totally sponsored by the U.S Department of State.
JJ: Was the selection competitive? Take us through the selection process. What did you have go through to get selected for this program?
DA: It was indeed competitive, since the best of Jamia were picked for it, and no one was less than the other.[As to the process] the very initial step I remember was getting nominated by my Department (Sociology), somewhere in February. The Dean Students Welfare (DSW) office had the best from each department where we were asked to write an essay about our expectations from the program. Initially we were 18; the shortlisting after the essay was evaluated, left just six of us. Next there was an interview conducted by the Dean Students’ Welfare, Prof Tasneem Meenai. Out of the six, there was again a shortlisting done and three were selected [from Jamia] to go to the American Center for an interview.
After a really nice interview [at the American Center], I and a girl from the Fine Arts Department were screened for further procedures. We were made to submit our portfolios with a Statement of Purpose; this was followed by the TOEFL exam.
I was informed that I was chosen in May; I scored a 102/120 in the TOEFL and was selected to move further. Since the program is for a one year course, I opted for Communications and was placed at the Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.
Then there was once again an interview at the American Center for me, followed by the procedure for VISA. And then finally, I was on the marks on the very next day of the country’s independence, i.e., 16th August 2014, ready to leave for the States.
JJ: Do you know if there are others who were also selected from India?
DA: Yes, there are five from India, including myself.
JJ: Since your arrival in the US, tell us what have you been up to? Take us through your routine. What is a typical day for you?
DA: From Delhi I flew to Washington where I was supposed to attend an orientation workshop for 3 days and that provided me a really nice opportunity to meet the other fellow NESA Ugrad’s. The workshop ended on 20th August and [from there] I flew to Detroit for classes.
I put up at a dorm on-campus provided to me. The routine of my day has few new inclusions like a jogging early morning since I see many of them on the road and the green campus attracts me for it. I had to shift a little bit in my food routine since the last meal for the day is no way after 7.30 PM.
Of the many goals I have, the prime focus of mine is to excel in the major I took here, i.e., Communications, learn about the media in the U.S and get extensive knowledge about it. Also since the standard of education here is quite different as compared to what we have in India. So I am observing them in order to take the best from it back to India.
JJ: What do you like most about the place?
DA: Well the best thing I like about the U.S is the way in which they are organized. The things go systematic with quite punctual timelines. I always did hear that time is money but to see it really so for the people in practical life, it’s pretty much true for the people here in the States.
JJ: Do you miss India? And is there something in particular that you miss?
DA: To be really honest to that question, Yes I do miss India, and I no way have any plans for getting settled in the States. Instead, I really would want to return to India and serve with the best I could acquire.
Since I am a food-o-holic, I really miss the delicious Al-Umar (restaurant), the mouth watering Jawed’s Nihari and Central Canteen’s Bread Pakoda.
I also miss my friends. I miss the campus. But then since I am in touch with them quite, so that’s fine for me.
JJ: When do you expect to return to India?
DA: The program completes somewhere in May , so I would probably be back early May.
JJ: Is there some message or advice you would like to convey to the students of Jamia?
DA: As for advice to my fellow mates, yes I really would want to say that one should always be around giving the best he can, be it academics, extra curricular or whatever it be. An A+ alone doesn’t make count for a person’s knowledge, the end of education is to meet much more than that. Get involved, take up the tasks without expecting returns and don’t ever consider yourself superior to others, I think that’s a good salad, and as for the dressing, always respect the birth givers, i.e., parents, the knowledge givers, i.e., the teachers and everyone around.
JJ: Thank you for talking to us Daud. We wish you all the best in the U.S. and hope to see you back in Jamia next year.[Editor’s Note: If you have a similar encouraging or inspiring story to share about yourself or of somebody you know at Jamia, then write to us at: editor[@]jamiajournal.com]