Stephen F. Austin State University hosted four international students participating in U.S. Department of State Global Undergraduate Exchange Programs during the fall semester. Pictured, from left, are Alaeddine Ben Ahmed of Tunisia; Olga Romanenko of Russia; and Uzma Sahar Rauf and Jitesh Kumar, both of Pakistan.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University recently hosted four international students participating in U.S. Department of State Global Undergraduate Exchange Programs.

Jitesh Kumar and Uzma Sahar Rauf are attending SFA through Global UGRAD-Pakistan, and Olga Romanenko of Russia is participating in an exchange through Global UGRAD-Eurasia and Central Asia.

The university also welcomed Thomas Jefferson Scholar Alaeddine Ben Ahmed through Global UGRAD-Tunisia this fall. The Tunisia exchange is in its first year, and Ben Ahmed is one of only 66 scholars from this program studying in the U.S.

The Global UGRAD program aims to advance youth leadership and promote mutual understanding by providing up to one year of non-degree U.S. study to undergraduates from many countries around the world. In addition to their academic studies, Global UGRAD fellows perform community service, explore American traditions through the Cultural Passport to America program and gain professional experience.

"We are very excited that we will be hosting five more students from the Pakistan program for the spring 2014 semester," said Heather Catton, director of SFA's Office of International Programs. "Hosting these students contributes to the international presence and diversity on the SFA campus, which is a benefit to the entire student body."

Housed in the state department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the program fosters mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries and promotes friendly, sympathetic and peaceful relations, as mandated by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchanges Act of 1961.

The program is administered by the International Research and Exchanges Board, an international nonprofit organization providing leadership and innovative programs to improve the quality of education, strengthen independent media and foster pluralistic civil society development.