YES Programs



Opening Minds as a Cultural Ambassador

9 11 Piece

By Ramsha Waseem, YES 2014-2015, Pakistan

Today is September 9th. It has been one week since I started school.

9/11 was one of the worst things that happened in the history. It was not about nations; it was about humans. A day which left a crack in the relationship of Pakistan and America. I, as the Youth Ambassador of Pakistan, decided that today would be the day I gave my first presentation and tried to answer the questions which are in the minds of high school teenagers.

The day started with a video about 9/11. It was the first time I had actually seen what it was really like, and it made me cry. I wore a shirt with an American flag printed on it and New York written across the flag, signifying the importance I had in my heart for the incident. 

In my presentation I tried to cover as many topics as possible. Then I held a question and answer session in which I got a chance to answer and clarify many misunderstandings.

People asked me various questions, such as "is there a war going in Pakistan?" and "are you forced to wear a Hijab?"

I answered those questions, explaining that there was no war in Pakistan--it's a peaceful country--and that Hijab is my choice, not a punishment.

The response and feedback were great.

"You did a great job! Pakistan is so cool! I'd love to visit one day." - Kirsten 

"I am glad to know that not every girl in Pakistan is like Malala." - Sonya
"I am looking forward to more presentations by you! And can you please give me a henna tattoo one day?" - Megan

The teacher liked the presentation so much that she asked me to give a presentation in one of her World Studies classes.

The best part of my exchange up to now was the cultural night I had with my host family, when we dressed up in traditional Pakistani clothes, listened to Pakistani music and had a Pakistani feast for dinner.

I am glad that I could help people learn more about Pakistan. Thank you, YES, for giving me this opportunity.

To follow along and read more about Ramsha's exchange year in the U.S., visit her blog.