Social networker with a social conscience: Myra Chaudhary blogs to improve U.S.-Pakistani relations
Myra Chaudhary BA/MA ‘10, this year’s recipient of the Brandeis International Business School American Leadership Award, which recognizes U.S. students who exhibit outstanding potential for international careers, is a social networker with a social conscience.
Growing up a Pakistani American in Massachusetts, Chaudhary longed to show the world the beauty of Pakistan, to shatter cultural stereotypes, and draw attention to concerns facing young people there. Last summer, as an intern for Senator John Kerry, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, she got her chance.
The Senator asked her to write for his official campaign blog. The resulting article—Hope Within Pakistan, a personal and effecting essay about Chaudhary’s experiences visiting her relatives in the northeastern province of Punjab—evolved into a series of blogs about critical issues within South Asia.
“Senator Kerry helped inspire a Pakistani American girl like myself to realize that a person can make a difference as long as they remain committed and hopeful,” said Chaudhary, who will graduate in the dual BA/MA program in International Economics and Policy Making next year. “With Senator Kerry’s help and support, I have been able to do my little share to bridge gaps between the U.S. and Pakistan—to fight against terrorism, backwardness, ignorance, poverty, and promote better understanding, and respect of all cultures and people.”
Senator John Kerry (D-MA), and Myra Chaudhary (BA/MA '10).
Working for Senator Kerry in Washington, D.C., Chaudhary attended over twenty-eight hearings on Capitol Hill, including sessions for the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, also known as the Kerry-Lugar Bill.
Chaudhary is involved with other social networking ventures to improve relations between the U.S. and Pakistan. She is consulting with Cynthia Schneider, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute, about using social networking to build online connections between people in Pakistan and the U.S. around cultural events. She is also the editor of the blog run by the Pakistani Public Affairs Committee (PAKPAC), which aims to foster greater political and civic engagement among Pakistani Americans.
Chaudhary also helped launch a celebrity campaign against terrorism which was introduced with a concert at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York. She played an instrumental role in the successful event which featured celebrities including Deepak Chopra and Salman Ahmed, lead singer of a popular music group from the region.
The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is delicate, she acknowledges, but striving for a greater understanding between the two nations is “vital.” “Things may seem difficult and it is important to be realistic, but I am reminded of the words of Louis Brandeis. ‘Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done,’” she said. “Why shouldn’t we continue to hope or strive for our dreams?”