YES students from Pakistan acted as cultural ambassadors and made 1,108 presentations during #IEW2019.
1. Laiba Hussain (YES 2019-20, Pakistan, hosted by AFS-USA in Ohio)
The components used in my presentations were dressing up in my traditional clothing that is Kameez Shalwar and Dupatta, playing National Anthem of my country, teaching my audience my language Urdu and how to write their names in it, showing Urdu alphabet, displaying cultural hats and bangles, showing different traditional dances, explaining briefly about sports in Pakistan and lastly playing traditional songs on YouTube. I gave 7 presentations in different classes and reached an audience of 140 people. It was fascinating to see the questions people came up with at the end of each presentation. As I walked out after giving each presentation, I felt successful because I taught some people about my country. A country not many of them knew about, a country many of them might not meet someone else from, and a country not many of them might ever visit. But after each presentation, I thought to myself that maybe they might come visit my country and see more of what Pakistan is.
2. Sualeha Junaid (YES 2019-20, Pakistan, hosted by AFS-USA in Richardson, TX)
During this week, I got to fulfill my responsibility of being a youth ambassador for my country and give my host community an insight to Pakistan. In my presentations, I mentioned all the diverse cultures my country has, its cuisine, famous places and beauty of my country, location, languages, interesting facts about my country and people living in it and our festivals. In short, whatever I aimed for others to learn was in my presentations but an important thing I learned was that International Education Week was more about presenting counter narratives. There has been so much negativity embedded into people's minds about different countries. IEW gave me an opportunity to learn what other people thought about my country and provide them the truth that contradicts their statements. I believe that there is so much more to a country than what is being portrayed through media.
3. Muhammad Muneeb-ur-Rehman (YES 2019-20, Pakistan, hosted by AYUSA in San Antonio, TX)
I gave more than 28 presentations in my school and covered almost 720 people during my presentations. Everyone showed great respect and paid their full attention to what I was presenting. I brought different cultural antiques from Pakistan which I showed them and they loved it. They loved to see food slides. Unfortunately, I couldn't cook any food but I did many different things which interested them so much. I spoke a few sentences in my language and wrote their names in Urdu. They also loved to watch different dances of Pakistan and to listen to cultural music as well. Students from my school came to me to know about different exchange programs in which they can apply. The other best part of this week was answering their questions and removing all stereotypes. I am sure that all of them now love Pakistan.
4. Mamoona Jan (YES 2019-20, Pakistan, hosted by AFS-USA in Hickory, NC)
I had an opportunity to speak to very young students at a pre-school, as well as middle and high school students, and the opportunity to speak in front of an adult church group was fantastic. Presenting a Pakistani traditional dance to little children, drawing and coloring flags of Pakistan with kids, singing Pakistani songs with middle schoolers, discussing some serious issues in Pakistan with high schoolers, talking about my religion to a church group or making my traditional dish for friends, were all great memories of my IEW. The love, support and positive response I received from my audience was priceless. The 93 appreciation letters from students and schools were a confirmation of my audience’s interest in my country and culture. It was truly an honor for me representing my country in front of more than 2000 people of different ages. I actually learned more about my country this week, through the many questions I was asked. The preparation of each presentation enriched my knowledge and increased my love for my rich culture and diverse country.
5. Muhammad Ibrahim (YES 2019-20, Pakistan, hosted by States’ 4-H in Prairie du Sac, WI)
I started preparing for IEW around a month before it began by consistently engaging myself in physical and virtual communication with teachers of all levels at my school. I managed to secure their confidence into delivering presentations about myself, my country, and culture to their students. Then came the first day of International Education Week and I gave around 7 presentations on the first day but outreached an audience of more than 140. I talked to students from various grade levels, making them aware of Pakistan, its language, people, history, traditions and all. I was presented with countless questions, something I was incredibly hoping for, and I realized how interested and engaged they were in my country. I also played a traditional dance from my country known as Attan which they enjoyed a lot along with teaching them a simple song in my language. The part of my country, everyone was so enraptured to see and learn about was food. Biryani, Seekh Kebab, Kheer, and many other Pakistani foods are surely going to be tried by many of my hosts now. During my deliverance, they kept asking me how to cook it and were often so relieved to know the ingredients that they already had at home. I gave around 32 presentations in that week and outreached more than 700 people and it was the principal week of my exchange year.
6. Urooj Fatima (YES 2019-20, Pakistan, hosted by AFS-USA in Blue Springs, MO)
This IEW, I gave 11 presentations in front of a big audience in different schools and clubs. Americans have strong misconceptions about my country and I tried my best to portray the true image of my country and break the stereotypes. People loved my presentations and my teachers were proud of me. I got asked amazing and really creative questions. Although the IEW has ended, I told them that the Q/A session will never end because that is what I am here for. I wore my cultural dress and displayed my traditional jewelry, showed my currency, and taught the audiences my language. I am grateful to the teachers who gave me time and the YES program who gave me the opportunity. Thank you YES!
7. Hamad Faheem (YES 2019-20, Pakistan, hosted by PAX in Avon, IN)
I gave presentations in all my classes for 5 days and 7 periods, not just that but in churches such as the Plainfield Church of Christ and Indiana Interchurch, and community centers like the YMCA and the Center for Interfaith Cooperation where I presented my home country Pakistan and shared some of our culture, traditions, and values. I also had deep and meaningful conversations about religion and one of my presentations primarily focused on debunking the notion that religion incites violence or that Muslims are extremists and radicals. Overall, it was such an enlightening experience where I feel I had a lot of personal development where I gained this sense of a global community and learned how to engage with it and cherish our diversity.
I also made a video about my experience which you can watch here!