Saad Riaz came from Islamabad Pakistan to study in the US on a F-1 student visa. He’s a fraternity guy who doesn’t drink, and a Muslim who champions women’s rights. He manifests that ideological openness that accompanies exposure to a wider world
Saad graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts last December and joined a two-year rotational internship program at Saint-Gobain as an automation engineer. His first assignment is working in a plant in Carrollton, KY about 45 minutes from his apartment in East Louisville. “I like engineering. Actually, I like the technicals, in theory. What I really like is working with people.”
During college, Saad spent three months in Namibia on a field project working with the Department of Tourism as part of his education at WPI. He enjoyed the intersection of engineering and policy. He also gained a deeper appreciation for his home country. “When I went to Namibia it was the first time I really appreciated Pakistan.”
Saad was a founding member of the WPI Chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity and has become very involved in the fraternity, which has a focus on leadership and differentiates itself from most fraternities in that all new chapters are dry. He hopes to mentor at the University of Louisville chapter.
He’s also involved in UN Women, a group with Emma Watson as its spokesperson that engages men in issues of gender equality. “America opened my eyes to it. Inequality exists in Pakistan, but it’s not in the open. Most countries are alike with similar problems. The U.S. is different; the problems here are different because it is so diverse and so open. I come from a country where culture is more coherent but less clear.” Saad sees that changing. “In Pakistan we never talked about gender equality, but now, very recently, we do.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“When I think of the question it’s more near than way in the future. I don’t see anything easy in the next two to three years for the U.S. and the world. The election is a mess. The next few years will establish our direction. Right now, it’s difficult for everyone.
“In the longer term we will move to more globalization. In the short term Brexit and Trump are counter to that. Now we know that there are people who still want their own country, their own values. When the election’s done, when Brexit is settled, we’ll see where we land. But eventually, globalization will win out. At least, that’s what I think.
“What matters is what people think of as ‘we’. For me, ‘we’ is all of us. I don’t think of myself as anything beyond the world community. I am Pakistani. It has its values and culture, but it is not my ‘we’. I’m a Muslim and could see the world through that perspective, but I don’t.”
“It will get a little harder for now, but in the long run, I think it will get better.”