By Mehak Ameer:
The picture was somber. The barricades on each of the thoroughfares leading to the other side of the frontiers were quite distinct and not so embracing. The pertinacity to traverse these boundaries was increasingly seen to be less stern every time. Unknown was the idea of looking beyond the veil.
In contrast, every region simply seemed to be an enclosure with artificial barriers, obstacles that are self-created and merely imaginary. The globe manifested itself as a spider web, where the robustness of each strand challenged its perfection; a perfection that determined the well being of the planet.
But what was it that produced these divergent illustrations in my mind?
The International Study Visit organized by the British Council, played a pioneering role in this regard. Having brought inhabitants of 7 different countries together, it provided the individuals a platform to enhance cultural awareness amongst each other. Thus, encouraging the idea of intercultural dialogue and developing sustainable international linkages that could later be used to address issues that are local but have global extensions.
The program having commenced with formal presentations of the ambassadors of UK, Bosnia, Srilanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, focused on providing a comprehensive picture of their respective countries and the philanthropic work that they are carrying out in their communities as active citizens, being the foremost commonality that formed the central point of the
Dialogue sessions on topics ranging from conflict resolution to role of young volunteers in community development fostered the diversity in the group to bring with itself new perspectives, ideas and experiences to the discussion. Thus, creating an atmosphere of holistic learning and stimulating a personal drive to share skills in order to achieve better. The visits to various areas including poverty-stricken slums in Pakistan and the violence free village for women in Multan in particular, served as practical examples of the issues that are rampant in the country for both the local and international participants.
As a group of few participants from the host country, our endeavors were to give a clear perspective of my country and countrymen to try to show the real place and its people, and bring down to realize that the image created about the country is only side of the coin. How well did we succeed? I think my counterparts were first intrigued and then drawn towards the finer contours of this historical place. It was realized that people all over the globe are bound together by brotherhood, and we are no different. This under the shade of the
mystical nuances of shrines in Multan created an effect that remained in the heart of the participants. Pakistan, it was successfully declared by many present, is not a country to keep away from but one that should be revered for its culture and age-old traditions.
What added to the idea of building bridges between contrasting cultures was the experience of attending the Global Citizenship Conference as a part of the program. As the name per se implies, speakers from different parts of the world such as Bangladesh, Australia, India and Saudi Arabia shared the same platform with a common goal of making world a better place. Having created open spaces for carrying out candid and collegial discussions with these experts on global issues, this inculcated a strong sense of taking an all-encompassing view while working locally in all aspects.
In addition, the recording of a television program at the Pakistan Television News studios in Lahore brought out the hidden talents of all participants, as it was a public emergence as a team for the first time before the assembly of people. The ideas were exchanged unhesitatingly, and the bondage of humanity surrounded the studio. It was not a single person’s show, but a collective effort of showing the world the true face of future generation. The intellect, emotion and the psyche all played their roles in unfolding the idea of young people being the positive pillars of the world tomorrow.
Furthermore, the mere presence in the hall of National Assembly of Pakistan was in itself enough to infuse in all of us a spirit of reaching for skies, doing the undoable, and coming out of the fire as a phoenix. It seemed that our hearts have warmed at the mere thought of bringing a positive change, and being involved in the process.
Those five days left an indelible impression on the minds. Having learnt a lot from each other, the predominately thought that undoubtedly remains itched is learning to honor and celebrating someone for what makes him unique. Thereby, removing stereotypes to value the essence of working in diversity and respecting the insights and wisdom that everyone has, in order to work with a difference.
Certainly, it could be strongly underlined that a hopeful attitude with an eagerness to discover the other side can inevitably make this planet a far more appealing and invulnerable place to live in.