Sana Naz, a Pakistani participant in the 2013-14 Northwest Community College Initiative program at Whatcom Community College, earned a certificate in business management administration with a focus in accounting. Sana was actively involved in the campus Ethnic Student Association and Service Learning Club, which gave her valuable experiences working with diverse student populations. Her dream of working for the United Nations started early, and here Sana writes about how she used the skills she gained in the US to achieve her lifelong dream of working for the United Nations. You can also read her previous blog post on going home here.
Do you believe that dreams come true? I do. Striving for goals has become a continuous effort in human lives. A palmy career, a steady job, an understanding life partner or simply visiting a place one could only imagine, are some goals and dreams we have all thought about at some time in our lives. In my opinion, the attainment of goals and dreams is the ultimate sequel to utilization of opportunities with our best efforts. We all may have many dreams and aspirations which may take hours to write down, but my most captivating dreams were visiting Disneyland and working at the United Nations.
I live in Quetta, Pakistan, the capital city of Baluchistan province. Quetta is a beautiful valley located in the mineral-rich, northern mountains of Baluchistan. This city is also the land of disparate cultures and cordial people. The combination of ample natural resources and skilled inhabitants could contribute in Quetta’s development, but it is an underdeveloped city which does not utilize half of its potential workforce, the female half. Quetta is one of Pakistan’s cities where males dominate both in household matters and in employment opportunities. For this reason, women’s career prospects are few and culturally restricted. But, it is also true, where there is a will there is a way!
My professional life started with working for a not-for-profit organization in my town. Working from 9 to 5, then coming home and helping my mother with household tasks was my routine. After being awarded with a U.S. scholarship, visiting Disneyland was the very first thought in my mind. I had grown up dreaming of going to the Disneyland. My scholarship allowed me to go to the U.S. for 10 months of extensive study in the field of business management. I not only learned new business management skills, but also was introduced to many, different cultures. I became friends with people from around the world and stayed in touch with them as they returned to their respective homes in Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, India, Egypt, and Colombia. No doubt, the time I spent in the U.S. changed my way of seeing life. The opportunity to study in an American school permitted me to have a closer look at U.S. culture, Americans’ ways of life and how the Americans I met handled day to day matters. And yes, my dream of visiting Disneyland, the magical place, did come true! During one of the quarter breaks, I went to California and enjoyed a full day in Disneyland with my roommate, but that’s another adventure to write about…
My time in the U.S. passed in the blink of an eye and I came back to my home country, Pakistan. Though my homecoming welcome was fit for royalty, I still experienced some reverse culture shock. On one hand, I was missing my U.S. life and friends, and on the other hand, I was enjoying all my relatives inviting me over and welcoming me home. After a while, I readjusted to my former Pakistan lifestyle. I started to apply for jobs, but six months passed and I didn’t receive any call for job interview. The stress and depression of being unemployed gripped me. Then one afternoon, lady luck smiled at me and I received a call from an employer informing me that I had been selected for a position for which I had applied. This particular employer was very special to me, because this call was from one of the United Nations’ organizations, a place where I had always dreamed of working.
My happiness was almost overwhelming. Along with previous qualifications and work skills, my recent U.S. academic and cultural experience played an important role in my selection for this dream job. Two of my wishes have been brought to fruition and the CCI scholarship paved the way. I still have hopes and desires which I am sure will come true one day.
I would like to congratulate you, all current CCI participants, for this prestigious opportunity. Your life will never be the same after completing this program. My advice, as an alumnus, is to take maximum advantage of this opportunity and learn as much as you can. This program can enable you to reach your desired future goals. Even the tiniest thing learned during this educational and cultural exchange program will aid you in returning as a more skilled person to your home countries.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.