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Watauga High School to Welcome 24 Pakistani Visitors Oct. 21 with Program on Appalachian Regional Culture

by Madison V. Fisler

Oct. 16, 2013. As part two of the U.S. Pakistan exchange, Watauga High School will welcome 24 Pakistani visitors from HITEC University in Pakistan to the Ross Auditorium on Monday, Oct. 21 for  program about Appalachian regional culture. 

“The visitors will be here for a cultural exchange as well as an educational experience,” said Marshall Ashcraft, public information director for Watauga County Schools.

“This will be the first introduction to the school system for the educators participating in the program. While they are here they will be spending time in the classrooms and getting a chance to see how we do things.”

The program will take place from 8:45-10:00 a.m. in Ross Auditorium at Watauga High School. 

The program will include choral music, Jack Tales from drama students, live bluegrass music courtesy of Deborah Sheets and students, and a grand finale featuring a clogging performance. 

From a press release: 

The exchange program is intended to foster increased understanding and mutual respect between Americans and Pakistanis on a personal level and to help build a foundation for improved relations at all levels.

While the program is primarily school based, a key aspect of the cultural sharing is the hosting of Pakistani visitors by local families for two weeks, and this aspect of the program clearly had a major impact on both guests and hosts.  

The exchange program is funded through a grant of $266,197 to Appalachian State University from the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan.  It is overseen by Jesse Lutabingwa, associate vice chancellor for international education and development at Appalachian State University, and Arshad Bashier, a Fulbright doctoral student in ASU’s Reich College for Education.  Bashier also has connections at HITEC, having taught there before coming to ASU.