By Nabeel Lal
Living in Panjgur, a small town in Balochistan (Pakistan), it had always been my dream to visit the United States for educational purpose and gain new experiences. When I was a high school student in Panjgur, my teachers used to tell me that I had the potential to achieve my goals. It has always been my goal to gain international recognition and promote Balochistan and its beautiful culture.
The Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programhelps students of the Muslim countries to fulfill their dreams of getting education in the United States and and also share one’s culture and experiences with the American students. The Program started in 2003 in Pakistan and I got to know about it in 2012 so my friends and teachers encouraged me to apply for it as I saw my dreams coming to reality.
I applied for it and luckily got selected. I still believe that it is because of the prays of my mom and dad that I got selected because every year about 5000 students from different parts of Pakistan apply for this scholarship and only 108 students get selected. In 2012, I was one among the 108 students who were provided an opportunity to pursue their educational goals in the United States.
We went through different processes in Pakistan before we departed from Pakistan on 26th of August 2013 to make my own story.
The day when I stepped on the land of America, I told myself that now it is time to prove myself in front of the world. During my exchange year, so far I have achieved some of my main goals. At Lake Hamilton High School, Hot Springs, where I am currently enrolled, I have made a lot friends and received appreciation from my teachers and friends for my hard work and efforts.
Every month, we have to do a survey from our placement organization (ACES) where we answer some questions and give reports about our achievements of exchange year. I won the KL-YES monthly evaluation for the month of October.
The International Education Week (IEW) comes during the month of November where allexchange students from different parts of the world promote their culture like traditional dress, food, dance and music etc. For me, it seemed to be a unique opportunity to promote my Balochi culture on international platform.
During the International Education Week, I went to different places like in school, parties and church to promote my culture and clear cultural misunderstandings. I gave about 16 presentations in front of 260+ people wearing my traditional dress (Shalwar Kameez) and made cultural food Beryani for my host family and American friends and believe they loved it. I also showed them my Balochi cultural dance (Dho Chaap) and cleared the misconceptions about my native region and its people.
The presentations and every other activity that I did during IEW were an enriching experience for myself and they were also lauded by everyone. They people were very interested to know about my culture. My teachers loved the way I delivered my presentations and they said that I should be a teacher in future because I have the tendency to make people understand about different topics. I got an appreciation certificate from my school for the presentations that I gave in my American High School and a gift from the Church.
Finally, when the IEW result was announced, I was absolutely exuberant to learn that I had been declared as a winner. I am delighted and encouraged as well over my accomplishment. I am convinced that hard work always pays off. The staff at ACES, which is my placement organization, liked my work during the IEW contest. They motivated me all the time which ultimately culminated in my success.
I am doing very well so far during my exchange year and have accomplished some of my goals. It really feels great when you serve as an ambassador for your nation in America and promote the culture and clear some of the misconceptions that exist because of lack of people-to-people contacts. I intend to make my parents and the nation proud in the future as I pursue my future academic goals. (Courtesy: The Baloch Hal)
Republished in The Balochistan Point on February 17, 2014