Author Archives: jafshar

From Woman Peacemaker to Master’s Candidate

Name: Rehana Hashmi</p><br />
<p>    RehanaHashmi

Country: Pakistan

Major: Peace and Justice Studies

Languages: English, Urdu, Hindi

From USD’s Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice – Rehana Hashmi, a development professional and human rights defender, knows well the stark differences between the remote expanses of Pakistan and its bustling cities. Born in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly the North-West Frontier Province) and raised in the sparsely populated province of Balochistan, she now alternates her work between Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad and the remote regions of her childhood.

At a young age Hashmi saw her father jailed for political activism and soon followed in his footsteps, leading student protests as Pakistan went through political upheaval. When the police came to her door threatening her arrest, the teenage Hashmi was given two choices: stop the protests or leave town. But she would not be silenced.

In the 25 years since, Hashmi’s activism has centered on the defense of human rights, especially for women. She became a development specialist in the district of Chitral; the work involved organizing women of diverse sects to come together to improve their livelihoods. It was a challenging task, as women in this region had never before been allowed to form organizations or make decisions side by side with men.

Hashmi has also created two national networks to support women taking control of their rights. As the national manager of the Women Political School Project under the Ministry of Women Development, she trained over 25,000 elected women leaders to support their political engagement. Hashmi also formed the largest health worker’s network in the private sector to provide services in reproductive health, linking over 3,000 paramedics to reach 2 million women.

Through her leadership of Sisters Trust Pakistan, Hashmi has worked tirelessly to help victims of domestic violence and women and girls breaking free of religious fundamentalism and forced marriages. However, her defense of human rights has come at a price: A regular target of threats, Hashmi must frequently move locations, occasionally going into hiding. But this does not deter her. Declining opportunities to settle abroad due to her committment to stay and be part of the struggle for change, Hashmi leads women and those marginalized in Pakistan society to fight for their rights and create a country that will defend them.

Class of 2016

Hashmi was a Woman PeaceMaker in 2013 and is currently a Master’s student in the Peace and Justice Studies Program. We are excited to see her continue her efforts for sustainable peace in Pakistan.

Going Home to Teach

Former international students return to their homelands to improve education and expand opportunities for the younger generation.

From NAFSA – Investing the time in studying abroad can have a profound, long-lasting impact on the lives of educators.

They may return to their home countries immediately after graduation, or may go back decades later, but they’re all driven by the same desire—to improve lives and educations in their home countries. Their approaches are richly influenced by their own years spent studying and working abroad.

They may be striving to influence their home countries’ educational systems by adapting a new model to the local environment, providing educational opportunities to those who would not normally be offered such a chance, or taking part in programs that are designed to improve social systems.

Here are the stories of four seasoned international educators who have brought their experiences studying and working in the United States back to their homelands, where they hope to impact the lives of their students, as well as society as a whole.

Yi-Chieh Lin: China

Yi-Chieh Lin believes kids should have exposure to an international education at an early age. The native of Taiwan graduated from the University of San Diego with a master’s of education degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), literacy, and culture in 2012, and moved to Dongguan, China, in 2014 to share her teaching skills.

Since opening the doors of the Pangea Educational Center this spring, about 35 elementary and middle school students have been taking part in after-school and weekend programs to hone their English language abilities. During the summer, the 9- to- 15-year-olds are offered the opportunity to attend a summer language camp at the center.

But Lin’s focus isn’t only on China’s children. Dozens of teachers from Chinese public schools have attended teacher training sessions and workshops organized by Lin to improve their own English skills.

Lin enrolled in the University of San Diego in 2008. She had graduated from Feng Chia University in Taiwan with a bachelor’s degree in international trade the previous year. By moving to California, she aimed to improve her English skills.

Her original plan was to obtain a master’s degree in business from the University of San Diego, but after taking several classes, she decided it wasn’t the right fit for her.

Instead, she was drawn to the field of education. She had tutored students in English in Taiwan, and saw education as a way to blend together her two loves. “I love kids,” she says, “and English has been my interest. I love watching American drama movies, and I love songs in English.”

At the same time, “teaching English is a huge market in Asia.”

Lin already had experience in the field. During her undergraduate years in Taiwan she was a teaching assistant at the Oxford English Institute and also worked as a private English-language tutor.

As a graduate student in San Diego, she served as a teaching assistant and student teacher at the English Language Academy, which is a part of the professional and continuing education program at the University of San Diego.

When she and her husband, who was born in Hong Kong, decided to move to China in 2014, Lin decided to start the Pangea Educational Center.

It took time to get her plans off the ground. She spent a year developing connections between herself and the government to obtain the approvals she needed. “You have to find someone on staff (with the government) who can open the door,” she says.

At the Pangea Educational Center she’s using the Cambridge Global English series and Hooked on Phonics to educate the students. Younger students receive part of their instruction in English and part in Chinese, while the older students receive their instruction only in English. She also strives to teach the youngsters to develop critical-thinking skills.

More than 250 study abroad students come to ILCS each year from countries such as the United States, Canada, China, and Australia. They reside with host families during their time in Morocco.

Having foreign students come to Morocco not only exposes the visitors to real-life situations in the North African country, but it also gives the Moroccan students a chance to interact with peers from around the world and gives them extra opportunities to hone their English language skills.

At the same time, “community work helps ILCS students and students from around the world to develop their leadership skills,” Lemtouni says.

The work in the community changes the students’ lives, she says. But it also impacts the nongovernmental organizations that the students assist, as well as the families who host them during their stay.

By bringing together students from around the world with ILCS students, and with Moroccans from all walks of life, it serves to foster dialogue and understanding among people of various cultures and this “contributes to preventing extremism,” Lemtouni says.

Lemtouni is a big proponent of also having educators spend time studying abroad. It allows them “to be open minded, overcome their prejudices, adapt more to their students, keep the human dimension in everything, and mainly to develop empathy.”

A teacher who is a native English speaker also works on staff so the students can learn to speak with the accent of a native American.

Lin wants the parents of her students to see “what kind of benefit the American education system can bring if you learn English in this way.”

In many places in China, students simply are required to memorize and repeat English sentences and grammar. “This doesn’t help students learn,” Lin says. “Language is a flexible thing.”

Along with her efforts focusing on the students, Lin also helps to teach the teachers. She works with the local government to train elementary and middle school teachers from public school how to speak English fluently. She regularly provides instruction to more than 60 teachers a week.

Her academic adviser from the University of San Diego, Sarina Molina, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Learning and Teaching, recently visited the Pangea Educational Center. She was accompanied by three graduate students from the university.

Molina held an English language workshop for about 85 middle and elementary school teachers, while the graduate students helped teach English to the schoolchildren.

“The education I had in the United States totally changed me,” Lin says. “It’s helped me to become a different educator.”

By Susan Ladika

Surge of Foreign College Students in SD, Nationwide


Yanran Xiong, 22, from Guiyang City in China has been in the U.S. for close to 4-years now as she finishes up her communications degree at USD. Currently she serves as the vice-president of the International Student Organization. — Nelvin C. Cepeda


The San Diego Union Tribune -Aryaman Madireddy always knew he wanted to leave his native India to study abroad. That day came in August, when the 18-year-old arrived at the University of San Diego.

An avid sailor with an interest in business, it seemed like a fitting choice.

“The University of San Diego is supposed to have one of the best business schools in the world, so this was a very good decision,” he said. “It’s been a very welcoming experience.”

Madireddy is part of a growing pool of foreign students enrolled in San Diego colleges and universities, drawn largely by the relaxing lifestyle and the promise of a first-rate education.

It mirrors a nationwide trend, with the number of international students reaching a record high in recent years.

Universities are eager to welcome these students, with many sending staffers overseas to recruit applicants. School officials say international students add new perspective and diversity to the student body, while bringing in significant revenue.

An estimated 886,000 international students studied at U.S. colleges and universities in the 2013-2014 school year, an 8 percent increase over the previous school year, according to the Institute of International Education. About half of the students hail from China, India and South Korea, according to the group.

Mariam Assefa, executive director of World Education Services, said the growing number of international students corresponds with economic growth in developing countries.

“In the emerging economies in countries such as China, there is a growing middle class that is pretty ambitious when it comes to its young people. People believe there is value in sending their kids to study abroad,” Assefa said. “The U.S. has the strongest reputation when it comes to our education system. American universities are considered to be the best.”

Assefa said California is particularly popular, with the state hosting the largest number of foreign students each year. They contributed $4 million to the state’s economy in the 2013-2014 academic year, according to the Association of International Educators.

Enrollment data from the University of San Diego, San Diego State University and UC San Diego show the number of international students has skyrocketed in the past five years, a pattern that’s likely to continue as universities ramp up recruiting efforts.

International student enrollment

Enrolled at the University of San Diego

Enrolled at San Diego State University

Enrolled at UC San Diego






An estimated 2,755 foreign students — both graduate and undergraduate — enrolled at San Diego State University this fall, an increase of nearly 400 enrollments since last year. The school’s foreign population has grown by about 1,200 since 2010.

At the University of San Diego, 621 foreign students enrolled this fall, compared with 611 in 2014 and 400 in 2010. The tally includes undergraduate, graduate and law school students.

Leading the trend locally is UC San Diego, which enrolled 3,379 foreign undergraduate students alone last fall, a 23 percent jump from the previous year and a nearly 75 percent increase from the fall of 2010.

The climb in international students in recent years is likely a result of UC San Diego’s long-term plan to diversify the campus. The school had previously aimed to have 18 percent of its undergraduates be nonresident students — both out-of-state and international — by 2025.

It’s surpassed that goal, with nonresident students accounting for 20 percent of undergraduates, according to a school spokeswoman.

The strategy to internationalize the student body is used in most schools within the University of California system as a way to bolster revenue, particularly as public funding shrinks.

At UC San Diego, for example, an undergraduate California resident who lives on campus would pay $31,365 in tuition and expenses, while a nonresident would pay $56,073.

Bradley Moon, director of international recruitment at SDSU, said the school participates in a number of recruitment fairs around the world. An SDSU representative recently spent two weeks in India visiting high schools. Another is preparing to leave for a three-week recruiting trip to Hong Kong.

“We have world-class education offerings, especially in San Diego. Our schools are known globally. I think that that’s something that we have to our advantage,” Moon said. “As we all move up in rankings and our research is recognized globally, I think that gets a lot of attention.”

Though foreign students aren’t offered any financial incentives to enroll — they’re required to pay full tuition at most U.S. universities — Moon said the allure of studying at a reputable school in a desirable location is enough to draw a large number of students.

“It’s a huge industry,” he said. “Universities worldwide are clamoring to increase their international footprint.”

Critics, however, worry the trend will push out qualified local high school students. They also argue that domestic students are much likelier to remain in the United States upon graduation, contributing to the workforce and in taxes.

Madireddy, a freshman at USD, is an undeclared major but plans to study business administration, a subject that sparked his interest in high school. His father is a pharmaceutical entrepreneur in India.

He traveled to the U.S. on an F-1 visa, issued to international students who enroll full-time in an academic, language-training or vocational program culminating in a degree. M-1 visas are available to foreign nationals who wish to pursue programs in vocational or other certified non-academic schools.

There are 1 million international students in the U.S. under F-1 and M-1 visas, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

For USD senior Yanran Xiong of China, the city’s relaxed culture played a significant role in choosing the university.

Xiong, 22, said it was important for her to attend a school where she could get an exceptional education, but equally important to live in an environment where she could feel at ease.

“The life’s pace in larger cities is really fast, everyone is always walking so fast. I don’t like that. San Diego is such a relaxing city. You can always find a way to relax yourself after school,” she said.

By Tatiana Sanchez


Cross-cultural learning: one Saudi student’s experience at USD and beyond

Name: Metaeb Alohali

Country: Saudi Arabia

Major: Electrical Engineering

Languages: English, Arabic


I am Metaeb Alohali (far right above photo) from Saudi Arabia. I study Electrical Engineering and am in my junior year. I chose USD because I have always dreamed to come to San Diego when I was in high school. Two of my uncles have studied in the 80’s in San Diego, and from what I heard from them, it is heaven on earth. When I looked at the schools in San Diego, USD was my first option. I choose my major because I have always been passionate about math and sciences, and thankfully I still enjoy it. Since I entered USD, my social life has changed in several aspects. First, I get to meet people from all over the world and become friends with them. Having diverse friends made me think differently and better understand different cultures and religions. Second, I enjoyed joining the executive board members of the Muslim Students Association, Saudi Students Association, and the club of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers also known as IEEE.

Last semester, Fall 2014, the OISS at USD hosted the “A is for Arab”, a traveling exhibit that examines stereotypes about Muslims and Arabs in pop culture. The brilliant guest speaker Dr. Mietek Boduszynski (far left in above photo), a political science professor at Pomona College and former US diplomat in Albania, Kosovo, Japan, Egypt, and Libya, was invited to make the key-note speech. What made Dr. Boduszynski’s experience so special was that was in the Middle East during the Arab Spring; moreover, he was assigned to Libya when the tragic assassination of the US ambassador to Libya happened. At the exhibit Dr. Boduszynski spoke about his experience, some facts about the Arab world and clarified some of the wide spread stereotypes about the Arabs. After his speech, I had a great chance to chat with him and he asked my Arab friends and me to meet personally with his students at Pomona as part of his Middle Eastern Affairs class.

We visited his class in March and I made sure to choose a diverse group of students to go there, so that his students would hear different experiences and political views. Jamal Jamal from Kuwait (Muslim-Shia), Huda Kahin from Somaliland (Muslim-Sunni), and myself (Muslim-Sunni). Jamal and I first began speaking about our countries and the Arab Spring for about 10 minutes. Then, the students started asking all of us questions about politics, religion, culture, and so on. They asked smart and deep questions that indicate they have a very good knowledge about the Middle East. The students seemed very eager to meet Middle-Eastern students and get a personal view about the Middle East. Students asked questions about the current political events in Saudi Arabia and the region and our views about them. They also asked how we view our conservative culture and whether we agree with it or not. They had a little misconception between our conventions  and the governmental rules in Saudi Arabia; for example, they asked why every Saudi girl that studies abroad has to have her brother or father with her. The reason is not because their families won’t let them, but because the government won’t give them scholarships.

It was a really great opportunity to go there and speak about my country and answer questions they thought were taboo about religion, culture, and the government. I was told that there are no Saudi students in Pomona College, so for some of the students I was the first Saudi they ever met which made me feel honored.

Studying abroad in US for me is a really good chance to learn about the American culture in particular and other cultures in general. Though, to me, studying abroad alone is not enough to get a good knowledge about a certain culture, it’s also important to make friends with people from different backgrounds and hang out with them. Since I came to the US, I learned so much about different cultures and eliminated the stereotypes I had. Also, engaging with different people makes me more open-minded to try diverse habits and behaviors that are not in my culture. Fortunately at USD, I rarely find stereotypes about Saudi’s. The majority of people I met at USD are well educated and have knowledge about the outside world. Another factor is there a lot of Saudi students who study at USD which made it easier for me to introduce or clarify things about my culture. Also, San Diego is an open and diverse city, therefore, the community is less vulnerable to believe stereotypes that are spread in the media and often discriminate against Arabs and Muslims. All in all, I will never be able to explain my experience in the US in couple of hundred words, but it is absolutely a joyful and successful part of my life that I will never forget.

-Metaeb Alohali



Naumana’s Peacebuilding: Strengthened by Love


From Inside USD – “Love” is a word Naumana Suleman uses to describe her journey in life. Within that journey is a heartfelt desire to spread compassion throughout the world.

Currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Peace and Justice Studies in the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, Suleman will be graduating this month. Originally from a large Christian community settlement in Pakistan, Suleman came to the University of San Diego to pursue a focus in peace studies.class-of-2015

Suleman, photographed in the second row on the far right, with her classmates in the 2015 Peace and Justice Studies Cohort

Influenced by her parents, Suleman credits them for her upbringing and aspiration to “contribute her part for a positive change in the world.” Adopted at an early age, Suleman recognizes her parents’ love as a key part of whom she is today saying, “it enriched me as a person.”

Growing up in Lahore, Pakistan, which is called the “heart of Pakistan,” Suleman describes Lahore as a historic city, “a city of people with lively hearts.”

“People know that Pakistan has been facing terrorism and faith-based violence, along with some other human rights issues, which has damaged the social fabric of Pakistani society. But people should also know the bright faces of Pakistan, which are Human Rights Defenders. Many have sacrificed their lives and many are still struggling for a just and peaceful society in Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistanis have talents and a lot of abilities, but they face a lack of opportunities and a conducive environment,” Suleman said.

While working for a few years as a teacher in a government school, Suleman saw firsthand the discrimination towards different minority groups.

“I saw the discrimination, which was going on in regards to the minority children studying in that school,” Suleman said. “If the teachers, who are well-educated, are still not able to be not biased with regards to their colleagues or with regards to their students, how can this be?”

Since 2006, Suleman has worked with the National Commission for Justice and Peace, a part of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and has witnessed the challenging situations for “the general masses and specifically the marginalized and minority communities in her country.” Because of this work, Suleman was inspired to pursue higher education in peace and justice studies. Choosing the USD program, Suleman praises the faculty as well as her peers, marveling at friendships she has made along the way.

“For me, this program, at this stage of my career, is an incomparable opportunity. It is something that has helped me to reflect and to learn about issues more in depth,” she said. “Having conversations and studying with my colleagues from different parts of the United States and the world, making new friendships, … and the courses being taught here are very much connected and close to my work in Pakistan.”

For Suleman, her passion for peace has always been a part of who she is. “I have chosen a human rights path because, for me, it’s the basic notion of life … the basic notion of equality.”

In a country where she sees discrimination against minorities, notably religious minorities, Suleman hopes that equality will overcome any barrier, and that one day she will see a rebuilding of the social fabric that has been damaged by religious, ethnic, and linguistic tensions.

Going forward, Suleman realizes that alone she is not able to create change, but she has the desire to contribute any way she can, hoping to “work for a world where people can enjoy their rights on the basis of equality,” and that one day, everyone will experience the joy and peace they deserve.

Suleman acknowledges that the pursuit of equality is necessary but involves risks, recognizing the importance of creating a just and peaceful society.

“We should not lose hope. We should be optimistic. I know there are several challenges. We should be a kind of strength … keeping our hope and faith and letting the light of love guide us,” she said.

— Allyson Meyer ’16