American Councils January Student of the Month!

American Councils January Student of the Month!

Recently, the International Student Support Team launched an initiative to choose our own Student of the Month separate from the ones chosen each month by the State Department for students on the A-SMYLE, FLEX, and YES programs. Students from all programs are eligible, but they must be American Councils students currently on program. Our first Student of the Month is Sumbul Ali, YES-Pakistan!

Sumbul has thrived in her small community in central Wisconsin. She is a member of the junior varsity volleyball team and active in student council, and the junior class elected Sumbul as its secretary. She has received an honorary membership to the National Honors Society while maintaining straight As in her classes. She recently joined Forensics as a Foreign Visitor, where her presentations on Pakistan have already earned her a medal after two meets.

Sumbul is also very active outside of school and has become well-known in her small host community. She is a member of the local 4-H Club with students from ages 6 to 18. Sumbul has fully embraced the role of religion as a cultural institution in the U.S. She helps with the nursery at her host family’s church and she has also helped a local church with a food pantry. In addition to this, she volunteers weekly at a home for senior citizens. She chose church and this nursing home as two venues for International Education Week, noting how rewarding it was to address misconceptions about Islam in an open forum.

Sumbul sums up her exchange experience so far, saying “Living away from home, on the other side of the world, has impacted my life in many different ways that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Being here and experiencing a different culture, a different lifestyle, and a different language has changed my perception of life. I have a lot of knowledge about numerous things now. I will gladly pass on all my new knowledge when I return back and tell people that sometimes things are not the way we think they are. Being put outside of the comfort zone can be scary sometimes, but I have realized that it is just a wonderful opportunity to try new things and meet new people.”

Whether it’s preparing Pakistani dishes for her host family, taking meals to the elderly, or helping her volleyball team win a game, she always has a smile on her face and she is a testament to the importance of the YES program and cultural exchange.