UET Alumni Association: Organizing Pakistani Alumni Abroad

Posted on April 5, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Education, Pakistanis Abroad, Society
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Adil Najam

UET Engineering Univeristy LahoreUET Engineering Univeristy LahoreI am off to Washington DC shortly to speak at an event organized by the UET Alumni Association of North America this Saturday evening. I am delighted to be going there, but even more delighted that such an association has been created for the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore, and is active and alive – indeed, the UET Alumni Association of North America has been active since the mid-1990s.

UET Engineering Univeristy LahoreBut it does make me wonder why Alumni Associations of Pakistani educational institutions – although some do exist and a few are quite active – do not, in general, prosper as much as one would expect? Why is this so? Would it make a difference if they were organized? And, if so, how do we go about doing so?

There are clearly some Alumni Associations that are and have been very active – including, especially North American Alumni Associations of Medical Colleges and also many electronic discussion forums of particular Alumni networks. We know, even on this forum, that people take their identity of which institutions they went to very seriously. Indeed, many attempts have often been made to organize such Associations in various forms in various places and at various times. Most such efforts, however, tend to fizzle away after pioneering efforts by a few dynamic individuals and many fail to sustain themselves over time.

I got thinking about this last week when I was in Qatar speaking to the Pakistani community there at events organized by the Pakistan Engineers Forum in Doha. Apart from the fact that these were amazingly well-organized events, they were made all the more memorable for me because I met there dozens and dozens of people who had gone to the same schools and colleges as myself, and many many who had been there at the same time as myself. This, of course, reminded me of the utility of creating such organizations. But it also reminded me of the fact that many efforts to organized such associations for many institutions have faltered. Some have prospered for a little while, only to wither away later. Others have never ever taken off. Why?

This is especially true for Associations of Alumni abroad. Alumni associations of Pakistanis abroad. They have a compelling case to congregate because of the diasporic nature of this community. They also have the resources. And, above all, if one thinks about what is the single most important asset that well-to-do Pakistanis abroad bring with them from Pakistan, it is their education. The education we bring from Pakistan, above all, is our passport to success abroad – especially, but not solely, in the USA. Why, then, are we not as successful in organizing our Alumni Associations as we should be?

Adil Najam: Portrait of a Giving CommunityThe assumption, of course, is that if we did we would not only derive personal gratification from “hanging out” out with our peers in terms of identity and networking, but also that we might be able to contribute in a more organized way to these institutions and to Pakistan in general. My own academic research suggests that (a) if we did organize our Alumni networks we could make such contributions, but (b) in general, we not only do not organize such networks but in most cases loose touch with our institutions for that very reason.

Again, the question is why? Do share any ideas you have, and also any information of active Alumni Associations and networks that you have.

23 responses to “UET Alumni Association: Organizing Pakistani Alumni Abroad”

  1. S. Khan says:

    Dr. Najam.
    It was a privelege to hear you speak at the UET Alumni dinner and the OPEN event in DC this weekend. I absolutely agree with your comment that Pakistanis living in the US should contribute to “sustainable development” back home. The question is how?
    The Kinnaird College alumni in North America have a pretty active OAKS Association and have been making contributions for scholarships for the last few years but now we need to step it up a notch. This should be on our agenda at our annual reunion in May.
    Thanks for being such an active advocate for the Pakistani community. We need more involved individuals like you.

  2. Syed says:

    thank you Prof Najam for your inspiring speech yesterday. You made all of us proud to be Pakistanis.

  3. Avinash says:

    “The IITs are in a league by themselves. Trying to match that success is becoming hard even for schools like MIT… It

  4. Asim Kaleem says:

    OOOOO After a long time I heard a good news about Pakistani Engineers gathering abroad especially of UET, Lahore (as I am a civil engineer from the same institue). Its wonderful as our engineers ave never been able to make such gathering due to their internal differences. I had witnessed this situation in Bahrain where I had worked for two years. I am the member of Institute of Engineers, Pakistan – Bahrain Chapter but the organization was not that much successful because of differences among the members. Where as the Indian Engineers Association was so huge and so cooperative, I can’t mention. So Pakistanis should always see the interest of their country not their personal interests.

  5. Muhammad Uzair Sukhera says:

    What i believe as a university student is that the atmosphere here in universities is stifling. Students don’t have much say in most affairs pertinent to them. Maybe the hijacking by military personal of the universities (UET and NUST in particular) is an important reason behind the lack of student representation.

    Due to this lack of association with the parent institutions the graduates just run away after the university and several make a vow never to return again. Had the atmosphere been more lively people would have loved to keep contact with their parent institutions.

    Now, as adil bhai has rightly mentioned that, the alumni associations, inspite of being acitive, generally don’t bring a desired response. We all must look into the root causes with a broader persepective, not from the eyes of the alumni or faculty but from the viewpoint of the students. This will help us reach a few useful conclusion to improve the way things get going here.

    So i reiterate; association with universities is like association with any specific brand, the more you invest in advertisement and quality control the more will be the fame!

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