It is really difficult to do justice, in a blog post, to what these past two years in four countries- Pakistan, USA, Canada and France-, across three continents have been.

How remarkable it feels to simultaneously graduate debt-free (thanks to the Penn-UNESCO Fellowship Award) with a masters from an Ivy League university and finish a successful traineeship at the United Nations.

Here’s hoping for more miracles :).

Some things I have been grateful for these two years:

Academics
I enjoyed every one of the 10 credit courses I took at UPenn as well as the Arabic Language class I audited (pro-tip, make friends at the linguistics department and you might be able to sit in the classes for free like me :D)

I feel my academic coursework-especially my classes on Migration and Education, Tools and Techniques of Development, and Education Politics in the Global South- gave me a broad range of theoretical knowledge and practical application that I could utilize at my UNESCO internship.

During my internship, I was also able to build on the knowledge base that my Education Policy classes laid the foundation for.

I do wish I had gotten practical experience at some stage with Monitoring and Evaluation though. I am grateful for the Risk Resilience and Proseminar classes where I was able to design interventions for socio-emotional well-being of children in trauma affected regions. I am also glad I got to write and present a policy brief of girls’ education in Pakistan.

Academic learning outside classes
Events and conferences I attended in these past two years gave me plenty of food for thought.

Just a few of those are the Comparative and International Education Society Conference in San Francisco; various panels at the Perry World House; IEDP Distinguished Lecture series; Middle East Center and South Asia Center events; World Teachers Day in Paris; and the 40th General Conference at UNESCO.

Work
During these two years I worked:

  1. As a middle and high school English Literature, Language and Dramatics teacher; Grade 9 Curriculum Coordinator and Developer; and Program Manager for 33 after-school enrichment courses at the Karachi Grammar School in Pakistan
  2. At the Wharton Business School in Philadelphia, USA as a facilitator and teaching assistant for their Finance Summer High School
  3. As a global education policy trainee in the Education Sector at UNESCO’s Headquarter in Paris where I did editorial and coordination work for the publication of a policy book, ‘Humanist Futures’ as part of the Futures of Education team

These work experiences provided the perfect combination of educational practice and policy which I wanted.

Top skill acquired
More than anything else, in these two years, I have learned to advocate for myself.

Travel breaks
I have learned to be kind to myself- to take breaks in between intense study and work schedules. I am lucky to have friends and family in many places around the world who gladly invited and hosted me, happily facilitating my travel ambitions. Vising and touring 7 states in the US, 2 provinces in Canada, 3 provinces in Pakistan, and 7 cities in Europe in these past 24 months has been fun.

Community
I have learned how much having a sense of community means to me.

From the Farewell my mom, siblings, aunt and cousins arranged for me before I left Pakistan for the US
From the Welcome my aunt, uncle and cousins arranged when I arrived in Canada for the first time.


To sum it up: Karachi, Pakistan; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA; UNESCO, Paris; Canada.