Each summer high school students from across the country come to the Michigan Tech campus to study a variety of disciplines in the Summer Youth Programs (SYP). Recently four students from Pakistan made the long trip to Houghton and were pleased with what they found.
The cities of Islamabad, Pakistan, and Houghton, Michigan are worlds apart—about 6,730 miles from each other. Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan has a population of about two million, is considered one of the oldest cities in Asia. It has a humid, subtropical climate.
Houghton, on the other hand, has a population under eight thousand, was founded in the 1800s and averages nearly two hundred inches of snow annually.
When four students from the Roots International Schools in Islamabad and their chaperone participated in one of the week-long Summer Youth Programs (SYP) at Michigan Technological University last week, it wasn’t population or climate differences the students were talking about, but the fantastic educational experience.
“This was a great opportunity for me,” said Laraib Akhtar, who enrolled in the geological engineering program. “The classes I took will help me a lot in my future. We don’t often get an opportunity like this (in Pakistan). This was a great chance to explore our future,” she said.
The students who traveled to Tech were among more than 300 from the Roots International Schools participating in camps and internships throughout the world this summer.
Accompanying the four students was Shamaila Idress, a counselor for the school whose daughter Maheen Faraz participated as well. She said the Roots school seeks out opportunities such as SYP, at the urging of the school’s CEO Walid Mushtaq.
“It’s important to our CEO that our students experience expansion, exposure, critical thinking and open mindedness,” she explained.
This was the first trip to America for all of the Pakistani visitors, who were impressed with the splendor of the Keweenaw.
“It’s so green here. And so beautiful,” Akhtar said.
Faraz, the youngest of the group, enrolled in the digital photography program and found abundant subject material.
“I’ve enjoyed everything,” said Faraz, who has yet to choose a definite career path. “I’ve learned so much, and I’m kind of enjoying whatever I’ve seen. I really like the scenery here.”
Hanana Anwar, on the other hand, is very specific about her education and career path. “My majors will be law and psychology, with my career goal to go into the foreign service,” she said.
Anwar enrolled in “Psychology in the Real World,” and she couldn’t be happier with her experience.
“This is a very good place for me to be,” she said. “The teachers are awesome, and they give all they have.”
Idress, who is not only a counselor at the Roots International School, but publishes the school’s newsletter, said she arranges all the summer activities. She said the visit to Michigan Tech by the students came about because of connections between Houghton and Islamabad.
“Our CEO has been involved with Michigan Tech for some time,” she said. “This was a result of that relationship, and it has been very successful.”
The only male in the group, Shazil Rasool, participated in geological engineering, and like his classmate Akhtar, has plans to become a geological engineer. He said he knew as soon as he started activities that he was in the right place.
“I knew this was what I wanted for my future. This university gave me such a good opportunity.”
"This is a very good place for me to be. The teachers are awesome and they give all they have."Hanana Anwar
Rasool said he wanted to go to Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Program the moment he heard about it, back in Pakistan. He said the experience exceeded his expectations.
“The facilities here impressed me; they were beyond what I expected. I enjoyed the group activities, I learned many things from working in groups.”
Amanda McConnon, assistant director for Michigan Tech’s Center for Pre-college Outreach, said the presence of international students at SYP adds a special aspect to an already amazing experience.
“We appreciate the international students for making the long journey to attend our Summer Youth Programs,” she said. “Their presence adds to all the student’s experiences at camp, and we are always excited to welcome them to Michigan Tech.
While their visit to Michigan Tech ended over the weekend, for the students from Pakistan and their chaperone, their American adventure will continue a bit longer.
Idress said from Houghton the group planned to split, with some heading to Washington, DC, and others to California, where a trip to Disneyland is on tap. They will reunite in New York before heading back to Islamabad in August.
Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.