Visiting student shares culture

In an effort to create global citizens and bridge the gap between different cultures, Gannon University welcomes students from around the world.

Tabish Shaikh, a 21-year-old junior from Islambad, Pakistan, was granted the opportunity by the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan to study at Gannon .

She has since been immersing herself in a new culture by participating in different academic and community service activities surrounding campus.

The highly selective program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of State and IREX, selects its participants based on outstanding academic qualifications and the recognized potential of being a leader and a cultural ambassador.

Shaikh is the second IREX undergraduate student from Pakistan to study at Gannon.

In order to pursue a career as a financial analyst, Shaikh is taking different classes in finance and accounting.

As a participant in the program, Shaikh is not only responsible for taking classes in her field, but also for completing 20 hours of community service, conducting at least one discussion about Pakistan and educating the community about her country.

Shaikh quickly sought involvement on campus and is a member of the Catholic Relief Services Ambassadors Group.

She has also volunteered at the Erie Art Museum, the Children’s Museum and the Martin Luther King Jr. Museum.

This participation has resulted in Shaikh becoming a highly regarded peer among her fellow students.

“It’s amazing how easily Tabish has involved herself on campus,” Jared Schaaf, a sophomore theology major, said. “I really admire her for that.”

A native of Sukkur, Pakistan, and raised in the capital city of Islamabad, Shaikh stressed the cultural differences between her home country and the United States.

“People are very different here – they keep smiling and greeting,” Shaikh said. “In Pakistan, people are much more conservative.  They keep to themselves more.”

Her perception of Americans has changed since visiting at Gannon and participating in different community service activities.

“Before coming here, I didn’t think Americans had many family values,” Shaikh admitted.  “I thought life was too hectic for parents to have time for their kids.”

“That perception has really changed for me.  When I volunteer at the different museums, I see many families spending time together.”

Back at home, Shaikh enjoys working on graphic designs, playing badminton, spending time with her family, and helping her mom with the housework.

Though the United States is much different from Pakistan, Shaikh feels very welcomed.

“I was worried I would have a hard time because I wear a hijab,” Shaikh said, “but there is a lot of religious tolerance in the United States.  I don’t feel like the odd one out.”

After finishing her classes at Gannon next month, Shaikh plans to return to Lahore University of Management Sciences in Islamabad to finish studying accounting and finance.

 

KAYLA MOORE

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