British Council - Connecting Futures

British Council - Connecting Futures

Students Dialogue

February 2005

The UK and Pakistani university students at Mohatta Palace in Karachi

The Connecting Futures Programme is a five-year FCO/British Council initiative aiming at building deeper mutual understanding, learning and respect between young people from different cultural backgrounds within the age bracket of 18 to 25 years. Activities funded by the Connecting Futures Programme reflect the cultural, religious and ethnic make-up of the countries participating, as well as the rich multi-ethnic diversity of the UK.

Students Dialogue' initiative

Students Dialogue' initiative

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office through the British Council has recently launched a new 'Students Dialogue' initiative under their Connecting Futures Programme. As a result of this, 16 UK students, including four from Glasgow, have just returned from a week's visit to Pakistan.

The overall objective of 'Students Dialogue' is to bring the youth of Muslim countries - in this case Pakistan - and the United Kingdom closer by a series of dialogues between university students in Pakistan and the UK through various means and media, including reciprocal exchange visits.

Along with Glasgow, the universities of Edinburgh, Warwick and Cardiff took part in the project. Students were invited to write a 200-word essay on Identity. Each of the four UK universities then held video conferencing sessions with selected universities in Pakistan.

Glasgow students held their video conference with students of the University of Karachi and of the University of Mehran, Pakistan in February, organised by the Computing Service and the British Council Pakistan. The students expressed their views on the sub-themes of Faith and Age, using graphics and objects, which they had prepared for the occasion. The venue for the Glasgow end of the conference was the Wolfson Medical School Building.
Funded by the British Council, the students then visited Pakistan for a week in late February 2005. The four undergraduates from Glasgow were Anna Louise Chiumento (Philosophy), Zoe Nisbet (Anthropology and Theology), Gary Sergeant (History) and Tommy Ga Ken Wan (English Literature).

The 16-member UK student delegation visited Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and the capital city Islamabad, experiencing local and regional, cultural, and lifestyle elements. The students met their counterparts across the regions involving face-to-face discussion forums and took part in a TV Talk Show on an international television channel.

On their return to the UK, the Glasgow University students gave a presentation at the University of Glasgow in June 2005 before H.E. Dr Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK. This took place after a lecture given at the University by Dr Lodhi on 'Islam and the West'. She then invited the students to give a presentation at the Pakistan High Commission in London. This took place in September 2005.

University of Glasgow students with Dr Maleeha Lodhi, the High Commissioner of Pakistan to the UK, June 2005Glasgow University student participants Tommy Wan (left), Anna Chiumento (centre right) & Gary Sergeant (right) meet Dr Maleeha Lodhi (centre), High Commissioner of Pakistan to the UK,  University of Glasgow, June 2005.

A special thanks to Sharne Procter and John Alexander, Students Recruitment and Admissions Service, for facilitating all the arrangements at Glasgow, and to Steven Jack and Ronnie Gibb of the Computing Service for the video conferencing arrangements. The Glasgow students said: 'it was an amazing experience and we made many good new friends'. A reciprocal exchange visit by a team of students from Pakistan is expected to visit the UK during the coming year.

Azra and Peter Meadows, IBLS, University of Glasgow.
Glasgow University Newsletter 264 - March 2005