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Fatima Hashmi: International Exchange Student at Clarion University
Coming to Clarion University from half way across the world
Sponsored by the State Department of the United States, the NESA (Near East South Asian) exchange program aims at promoting mutual understanding between the people of the NESA countries and the Americans. A handful of undergraduate students from Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia, India, Oman, Yemen and Palestine were selected and placed in universities across America for an entire academic year. As a NESA student from Pakistan I am attending Clarion University, majoring in Environmental Sciences.
It took me a total of 30 hours to get to Clarion from Pakistan and so far it has been worth the trip! I welcome any questions any one would have about Pakistan, how we live ( I was asked if we had houses!..YES!), what I do for fun, how college life is back home, and Pakistan's role in the war on terror etc.
So far this online course has been the most interesting thing I have ever done- its exciting and new! In my college back home, computers or the internet still have not catched on, everything is pretty much paper-based. So this is definitly a first for me and I am really enjoying it!
Why the Environment?
My father told me it had potential so I opted to major in it. To be honest I wasn't too passionate about it until my sophomore year when I took a class trip to observe endangered blind dolphins. After hours of sitting in the boat bored and with no sign of the dolphin, it suddenly surfaced by my side and jumped a few feet in to the air. That one moment changed me forever. Even though I now prefer concentrating on human health issues related to the environment, the dolphins keep me motivated.
As a memeber of my college's Environment Club (in Pakistan) I actively participate in creating awareness on environmental issues in Pakistan. Water contamination is the most threatening issues in Pakistan presently. Almost all drinking water has been contaminated with Arsenic. Bottled water is suspected to be adulterated and controversies over dam building to store water otherwise flowing in to the Arabian sea are alarming issues. Trips included visiting remote wildlife reserves in the desert areas of Pakistan, and spending hours in a boat to catch a glimpse of the endangered blind dolphins. Biodiversity surveys were also conducted in local wetland areas and the northern mountainous regions of Pakistan.
Aangan: a Non-governmental organization
The government of Pakistan has insufficient funds and resources to provide basic services to its citizens which is why many NGOS are actively doing what the government can not. One of the NGOs- Aangan, works at creating awareness of child sexual abuse and helps provide counseling and therapy to victims of such abuse. As a volunteer with the NGO, I help to create awareness on the issue within my community, a daunting task considering it is a taboo and never talked about. My work with the NGO can be seen here: 
I love acting and have been an active member of the dramatics clubs in school and college back home in Pakistan. I have acted in a series of stage dramas which includes a mime performance as well. I did the following plays: 1. A Woman of No Importance 2. The Importance of being Earnest 3. Hades- a Greek mime play
I interned for WWF-Pakistan in the summer of 2005 in the GIS(Geographic Information Systems) department. My work involved digitzing hand made maps that represented exotic and endangered bird species habitats in Pakistan.