Crossing Borders And Resolving Prejudices

October 27th, 2013.

An ordinary Sunday.

I wake up late and in my hazy, bleary-eyed state, I’m aware of my father handing me a newspaper and saying something about application forms.

After waking up a little more, I look at the page and an advertisement glares back at me. It’s from the United States Educational Foundation In Pakistan (USEFP) about their Global UGrad Program 2014, urging participants to apply before the 28th of November.

In simpler words, I might just be a cultural exchange student somewhere in America next year.

My ordinary Sunday turns extraordinary. My father and I discuss the technicalities and print out the forms. I am told to keep the news to myself for now to avoid any negative energies from seeping into my wonderful plan. We briefly discuss my portfolio and I finally decide to tell my father about my elusive blog to detemine whether or not it’ll help me in the selection process.

I email him a link and after getting some amazing feedback, I realize my usually sullen Sunday has suddenly become one heck of a day.

The next day, a friend who is a YES (Youth Exchange and Study) alumni, hurries to tell me about the UGrad program and that I absolutely must apply for it. I assure her I will. She sets up a meeting with a UGrad alumni who’s a senior at my university.

For two days I research and think about it.

And I become indecisive.

A number of cons attack me like a buzzing cloud of angry bees. For a moment I am in danger of being swallowed up by those bees and then spat out like a doubtful, useless mess of flesh and bones.

Fortunately, I have enough strength, determination and parental support to swat those bees away and spray them with poison for good measure.

After emerging unscathed from my heap of dead bees and dusting myself off, I go to my father and assure him that I will apply for the program.

I then sit down and think about where this program will take me. I think of what I’ve done with my life up till now, which is, regretfully, not much. I then think of what I can do with my life. I realize that this program will elevate me to the point of reaching one of my life’s goals. A goal that is also a driving force behind this blog.

I want to build a bridge between the Pakistanis and the Westerners, specifically the Americans. I want to quietly slide aside the opaque curtain of negativity and disdain most Americans see us through, and show them who we actually are.

My blog, which started as a diary, turned into something else just after two or three posts. When I saw how many Westerners read and appreciated it, I thought why not show them that us Pakistani are also humans. Us Pakistani teenagers also have high school dramas. Us Pakistanis also fight for our rights. Us Pakistanis also condemn terrorism.

Now, I’m putting all my efforts into getting selected for the program. I have chosen my field of study to be journalism. I have started visualizing already what I will and won’t do while in America. My six-months worth of efforts in America may only effect a handful of people, but at least I’ll be starting somewhere.

To all my American readers and ‘followers’, if all goes well, then this time of next year, I will be on your side of the pond!


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