What I learnt about my self, the World.

The trip to Heathrow was quiet a nerve-racking one; I didn’t know what to feel. I was both worried and frightened about my trip to Pakistan, because of the reactions of others when I told them where I was going; especially when they told me rumours that they had heard about the country. I felt claustrophobic in my head, all these things going round all crammed up. I was the only one that wasn’t dead excited about the trip and I felt I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. I opened up to my best friend about how I felt, he thought I was just being paranoid and I’d be fine once I got there. No one understood how I felt! All my problems were solved as soon as we got into Pakistan and I learnt and appreciated, the beautiful country we had just entered.

I learnt how to manage my time effectively whilst in Pakistan, not only because we were required to wake up early and travel around the country but because we all learnt what can happen if you don’t. One of the judges Fiona Swanson, who accompanied us on our trip was late on the day that we were seeing ‘President Musharaf,’ and unfortunately missed out on seeing him. This proves that if you are late you don’t know what you are going to miss out on.

Also whilst I was in Pakistan I learnt to appreciate what I have. We visited a very deprived school in Skardu, where we learnt that the yearly income of each individual household there was 900 rupees, which is equivalent to £90. Out of this £90 they bought food, paid for their house to run, paid for transport, paid for their children to go to school, bought books for their children, bought clothing and a lot more things. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how I would live of that little money. Even though these children were deprived they were so happy, and always had smiles on their faces. I felt privileged having these children reading to us, we’d met all these important people in Pakistan but these children are the one’s that stick out in my mind.

When I was in Pakistan I was curious as to why there were so many soldiers around me. Pakistan is a military run country and ‘President Musharaf’ explained to us that sixty percent of the money in Pakistan goes towards the army. This money is spent on guns, soldier’s fees, etc. ‘President Musharaf’ or ‘General Musharaf’ as he is known in the Pakistani army, is the head of the military in Pakistan. He felt that the people of Pakistan should be empowered because this is the only way that they will behave in an orderly manner. If someone would have told me that before I went to Pakistan I would have been angry and not agreed with his views, but whilst in Pakistan I never once felt that I was not safe, I felt safer there then I do in England.

In the 10 days that we were in Pakistan we met some of the most important people in Pakistan. We met ‘President Musharaf who spoke to us about Pakistan and we were allowed to ask him some questions, also had a quick snack. He was a very friendly person, not at all like I imagined him to be. We also met the acting president ‘Mohammedmian Soomro,’ with whom we had an answer and question session. We met ‘Zubaida Jalal,’ the education minister of Pakistan; we met the ‘Governor of the North Western Frontier’ at his posh house; he had invited students from the local colleges of Peshawar. We also met the ‘Governor of Punjab’ at his grand home; he had invited students from the local schools of Lahore to come as well and we also met the Prime Minister of Pakistan. I felt privileged by meeting these people because there are a lot of important people out there in the world and now I’ve met some of them.

I learnt that people from different parts of the world are all very different. All the people that I came in contact with whilst in Pakistan were all very hospitable and generous. Each of the schools that we visited, gave us a warm welcome, we had marching bands and a cultural evening presentation, which showed us a traditional Pakistani wedding. When we went to the ‘Pearl Continental’ hotel in Peshawar and at the Cathedral in Lahore, we were greeted with garlands of flowers. On the trip we were accompanied by ‘Anwar, Major, Salma and Pramilla,’ who were all originally from Pakistan, they were wonderful. Anwar was funny because every time you called him he'd say ‘yes please’ and he always had a smile on his face. ‘Major’ was always attached to his walkie-talkie; he was a major out of the army so that’s how he got his name. ‘Salma’ and ‘Pramilla’ were great, Pramilla was very informative as the public speaker and Salma was the haggler. They were both really nice women.

Whilst in Pakistan I saw some of the best sceneries in the world. We travelled from city to city by military plane. The plane was amazing in its camouflage colours, the inside was bullet proof and you could see the guns hidden away. Instead of seats we had hammocks it was an amazing experience. We were allowed to visit the cockpit from where we could see K2 the second highest mountain in the world. Mountains cover the whole of Pakistan and the scenery was unbelievable. Skardu was picturesque all you could see from every angle was mountains; the air was clear and blue. We were staying at a resort called ‘Shangri La,’ which means ‘heaven on earth,’ it looked like something out of a Chinese picture book, we were staying in cabins across a lake it was gorgeous. We were told that china was just over the other side of the mountains. We also visited Satpara Lake, which was again something that you’d see in a book; it was just clear blue lake. It was really nice, we visited a hotel that was there; it was newly built and we were the first people to visit it. We visited the ‘Bala Hissar Fort,’ which was interesting specially when we saw the execution chamber. We had lunch there and then started our long journey to the ‘Khyber Pass.’ It took about an hour and half to get there and we saw the long and winding road to where the Afghanistan and Pakistan trading takes place. It was really spectacular because you could see into another country through a pair of binoculars. We then moved onto the ‘Khyber Rifles Mess’ where we had lunch. Famous people like ‘Princess Diana’ and ‘John Major’ have visited this fort so we felt privileged to visiting it too. We visited Damaan ‘e Koh a restaurant which overlooks Islamabad, visiting at night was spectacular because all you can see are the lights of the city.

Whilst in Pakistan I learnt that I, as a woman, don’t have the same rights as men do in the world. I was shocked at the airport because I wanted to take a picture of the plane that we had just flown on but was not allowed because I was a woman and not a man. I felt outraged by this! On one of the day’s we visited a boy’s school. It was really weird because in Britain boys and girls mix in well but when I shook one of the boy’s hands in Pakistan, he got really embarrassed and wouldn’t talk to me after that. Mahnoor (the group organisers daughter) told me later that the boys take it offensive because they’re not use to women integrating with them. At Lahore airport there was a separate check-in with a sign reading ‘Unattended women and children.’

I thought that the children and the schools in Pakistan were very different to the schools in England. Compared to the students in Pakistan I felt very dim. We met a student who was originally form Afghanistan, him and his twin brother were artists and the school had pictures of their artwork around the school. I was told at school that my artwork was good but his work made mine look pitiful. We visited a girl’s school; they had lessons such as Japanese floral art. I’d never seen courses like that taught and I was amazed at advanced students of my age were. The students there do their A levels at the ages of fourteen and fifteen. They spoke English fluently as well as their home language (Urdu), it was really different. They also had nurseries where the teacher’s children were looked after, the babies were so cute. Everyone was really nice and the girl’s were a lot more confident than the boys but that may have been because I was a girl. The schools in Pakistan had open areas within the school; this is ideal over there due to the weather conditions in Pakistan.

Before I went to Pakistan I was worried about whether people in Pakistan would accept me or not because of my religion. Being a Hindu, I know that there is a lot of rivalry between Pakistan and India but this did not affect me at all. ‘President Musharaf’ did mention in his speech that 3% of the Hindu population live in Pakistan so that reassured me a little. We were told by the principal at my school that when we got to Pakistan, if you weren’t wearing the traditional headscarf the men would gawp at you and they did. It was really funny because there were a group of men, jaws wide open just staring at us all like they’d never seen food in their lives and we were that food. I have never been to India and it felt really weird because I spent Diwali whilst in Pakistan, and it was only 25 miles away from India.

My trip to Pakistan is one that has changed my perspective on life all together. I will definitely visit Pakistan again, I’d probably spend more time in Islamabad because it was the most modern city and the buildings were magnificent. I will also definitely visit India and compare the two countries. I have learnt not to judge a country because of what other people say and not to be scared of visiting new places. Experience Pakistan is an Experience I will never forget. It has taught me so many things that I will pass onto others.

Newsletter by Moat Community College.   (12-04-2003)


Today Miss Ayesha Naz from the 'Teach A Child' school in Lahore came to Moat. She is currently staying with her sister in Loughborough so decided to contact Mrs Steventon to arrange a school visit. She was given a brief tour of the College by the Principal, Mrs Hussain,and then met the five students who had been to Pakistan, for a light lunch. Miss Naz commented on how quiet she thought Moat was; she was expecting more noise from a secondary school. She also commented on the less formal nature of the teaching compared to Pakistan.

Mrs Hussain presented her with two books to use with her Junior class when she returns home. Miss Naz is hoping to see some snow before she leaves England but she won't miss the cold!!

Read about other winning students experiences in Pakistan

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