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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 06:18 GMT 07:18 UK
Pupils tackle Pakistan's 'image'
The pupils visiting a mosque in Lahore
The five say they learnt about Pakistan's politics and culture
Five students at a school in Colwyn Bay have returned from a fact-finding visit to Pakistan, aimed at promoting better understanding about the country.

During the 10-day trip, the students from the town's Eirias High School met Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

They won a competition, organised by a Pakistani businessman tired of stereotypical images of his homeland.

Back in Wales the teenagers say they want to help educate and rid people of their negative ideas about Pakistan.

I'd heard of the country, of course, and stuff like cricket but nothing about the politics or the culture there
Jessica Cripps, student

Vicente Solera Deuchar, 14, said he had heard negative stories and images about Pakistan before going there.

"A lot of people I've spoken to thought Pakistan was a terrorist state or a really horrible country," he said.

"I thought it was a wonderful country. All the people were kind and welcoming and I instantly knew it was nothing like the negative press that it sometimes has in Britain."

Geography teacher Sarah Hind, who accompanied the students, said the competition was organised by a computer company.

"The managing director is Pakistani and was getting fed of the negative image which his home country had so he launched a competition called Experience Pakistan," she said.

President Pervez Musharraf
The pupils met politicians, including President Musharraf

The pupils had to hold a presentation on Pakistan and were one of six from 100 entrants chosen to visit the country.

Ms Hind said the Year 10s' knowledge of the country previously was "minimal".

"They knew absolutely nothing about Pakistan and to be honest I knew very little so we've all learnt something from it.

"The aim is for the pupils to come back and feedback to pupils in this school and their friends so that they get rid of some of their negative perspectives.

"It [Colwyn Bay] is not a very ethnically diverse area so as a consequence there are some negative images of countries," she added.

Another student Jessica Cripps, 15, admitted she had known very little about Pakistan.

"I'd heard of the country, of course, and stuff like cricket but nothing about the politics or the culture there," she said.

Martika Mann and young boy
Children as young as four are tested for their intelligence

The students and their teacher visited Islamabad, which they described as a modern, purpose-built city, Peshawar and Lahore.

There they also met a group of children from poor backgrounds who are tested at the age of four for their intelligence.

They visited the Khyber Pass and met Pakistan's president, prime minister and other politicians.

Martika Mann, 14, said they were also able to educate the Pakistani children about Wales.

"Everyone seemed to like the fact that we were Welsh but I don't think they really knew where Wales was," she said.

They will now put together a presentation about last month's trip and plan to stay in touch with their new friends via the internet.



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