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.

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

  1. Afaq says:

    I am glad that UET alumni are getting together. They can contribute a lot back if they get together.

  2. Reza Kamran says:

    UET is doing a wonderful job. I would like to see all Pakistan Engineers coming together under one umbrella like the famous IIT that is mentioned here.

    The PAN-IIT Global Conference held in July 2007 was a grand event attended by Hillary Clinton and CEO of GE.
    http://www.iit.org/iit2007/

    To raise high profile, all Pakistan engineering schools need to get together.

  3. Muhammad Uzair Sukhera says:

    So i guess Dr abdul hai’s statements can lead to conclusion that people may like to meet up with old colleagues, enjoy old memories, yet they in most likely terms are not willing to own their parent educational institutions. Unless we address the issues at grass root level things might remain sluggish and stale!

  4. Abdul Hai says:

    I have heard suggestions, great ideas, and criticisms about the UET Alumni association for the last one year. Many of my old friends have stopped taking my phone calls about UET and delete my emails. Over a year we have been able to register a meagre 200 alumni on the UET website.

    We had 190 guests at UET dinner on Saturday, April 5, 2008. The feedback I received was they all enjoyed it. However, I am disappointed that so far I have not received a single dollar in charitable contribution for the UET and its students during the dinner or afterwards. Great ideas, comparisons with IIT will not make UET better.

  5. Abdul Hai says:

    I have heard suggestions, great ideas, and criticisms about the UET Alumni association for the last one year. Many of my old friends have stopped taking my phone calls about UET and delete my emails. Over a year we have been able to register a meagre 200 alumni on the UET website.

    We had 190 guests at UET dinner on Saturday, April 5, 2008. The feedback I received was they all enjoyed it. However, I am disappointed that so far I have not received a single dollar in charitable contribution for the UET and its students during the dinner or afterwards. Great ideas, comparisons with IIT will not make UET better.

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