Guest Post: Islamabad to Williamsburg

Tehmina Khwaja and W&M President Taylor Reveley

If I could tell you just one thing about Pakistan it would be that family is everything!

The American concept of individualism means little in my country, where you are not just a person but a representative of a family, a clan, a tribe, or community. I belong to a wonderfully supportive family, I am very close to them and have never lived away from home for a prolonged period of time. So, you can imagine my apprehension at the thought of moving thousands of miles away, alone, to live and work in a city where I didn’t know a soul. 

But all my misgivings proved to be completely unfounded because as soon as I arrived here, I felt right at home.  From the very first day I have felt that William & Mary has opened its arms to me.

First, though, let me tell you how I came to be here. Serendipity is the word that pops into my head when I think of how I ended up at William & Mary. I had been awarded a Fulbright scholarship, and one of the great things about it is that they let you choose the university you want to attend. So, I went looking for universities that would offer a PhD in higher education. I was interested in attending a great university within reasonable distance of Washington DC where my best friend had recently settled. I chanced upon William & Mary and I was stunned at the history of the university, I mean it is the second oldest American university…amazing that I had never heard of it! And the courses offered were the right fit. A sucker for history and quality education, I was elated to get in.

I have enjoyed every minute of my time here so far. You don’t have to try too hard to fit in, William & Mary makes it so easy to make the most of your time here. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to take advantage of all the things that are on offer.  So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed the use of the Rec Center, the buses, the Reves Center programs, and above all Swem (I can write a book on how wonderful Swem is!). I make sure that I go to most of the traditional ceremonies like the Opening Convocation and the Annual Raft Debate, and you can bet I’ll be there at the Yule Log Ceremony.

Another opportunity that I am glad to have taken advantage of is meeting President Reveley. Yes, you can do that here! And yes, that’s me with the president in the photograph…at his house…for a lunch that he hosted! Seriously, where else does that happen?

So, from my experience I can tell you that if you let it, William & Mary will be your family and so much more!

Tehmina Khwaja is a Fulbright student from Islamabad, Pakistan, pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Planning and Leadership in Higher Education at the School of Education at the College of William & Mary.  During her career she has been a university faculty member. Tehmina has been at William & Mary since August 2011.

About International W&M

The Reves Center for International Studies promotes, develops, and supports the global dimensions of learning, teaching, research, and community engagement at the College of William & Mary
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