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PAKISTAN a mindset-changing experience with Active Citizen


“Vy, do not die there!� That is the most common response when people know I am heading to Pakistan. I was both excited and worried, as the image of falling people from the Twin of NY in 9/11 in TV of DRT channel years ago just recalled. The moment I reached the immigration court in Tan Son Nhat International Airport, a certain feeling urged me to call my parents, just to say goodbye. At that time, social media was messing everything with MH370 - they said it was kidnapped by terrorists or somehow related. Thinking of Pakistan, it was a chain of insecurity and danger.


There are insecurities in Pakistan, thatâ€&#x;s true. The 1st morning in Pakistan, we were taken to BC office for a Security Brief to get updated about the talk between government & Taliban, the security & crime in Lahore & Islamabad, the do and do not for safety and the security plans for our living and transportation. It was the 1st time in my life that guns, bullets & bomb detective doors are that available. From Lahore to Islamabad, from a local market to a shopping mall, every shop guard was holding a gun with 2 long bullet chains across their chest. Along the road, security check point of police is available every 2 – 5 km. All of entrances are well- equipped with bomb detective system.


In a moment, I just learn the feeling of treasuring the freedom and peace we have in Vietnam- the safety that if you are a foreigner, it is still okay for you to walk down the street, talk to people & enjoy the street food.

Here in Pakistan, though the local daily life goes peacefully without any sign of danger, everything just gave the new-comers the high-sense of insecurities, vulnerability & be ready for anything can happen.


The most basic need of human according to Maslow is security or safety, and in Vietnam, a 20s like me never treasure the peaceful environment in which we grow up. We keep complaining and comparing till the day, we have a chance to experience life in a country where safety is the most concern along the history.

“I have always believed and I think I am right in believing that no government will ever succeed without creating a sense of security and confidence in the minorities� - President Address at Madras Session of the All Indian Muslism League 13 April 1941


There is a rich and diversified culture which is not mentioned.

I witnessed a Muslim wedding which looks like a Grim talebeautiful ladies with colorful lawn, happily dancing the traditional and singing and showcasing all the customs they celebrate marriages.

That is a really strong tradition reserved in Pakistan; meanwhile many countries are now facing the identity crisis and struggling in maintaining their traditions.


In the chain of events in Islamabad, Pakistani friends organized a culture night, in which we got chance to listen to the poems and songs shared by Pakistani artists & international friends. We cannot understand 100% every songs and poems, but it did opens a door for me to listen, to view and to taste a part of that culture. That is the beauty of language, of Urdu, together with the meaningful message of love & peace well-maintained and proudly spread by the young generation of Pakistani artists.


In LaHore, visting the Badshahi Mosque – the 5th largest mosque in the world, it is surprising that it took just 3 years (1671- 1673) to complete the whole construction. The main prayer hall is decorated with stucco tracery and fresco work; the exterior is embellished with stone and marble inlay of red stone. It is not easy for a non- Muslim feel the spiritual message of the heritage, but the impression remained is about the art and architecture of ancient Pakistan.


There is peace which is not mentioned by social media


What social media defined Pakistan

in

my

mind

before?

Conflicts,

battles, terrorism, poverty, etc‌

In Saidpur Village, that was the 1st time I get close view to the local life. That is a Mughal-era village on the slopes of the Margalla Hills.

I took a walk along the small route there, seeing the kids playing, the men trading, the old people reading newspapers, etc‌


It teaches me I was wrong before, when thinking that Pakistanis are sad people, always suffering and there is no happiness.

It was a mindset-changing experience.

I learn that the local people there have their peace and simple happiness, and they are enjoying and celebrating their life.


Spring in Pakistan, spring in Islamabad is a very beautiful season. The fresh air, cool atmosphere, glowing sunshine, high blue sky and blossoming flowers,… all make the time so enjoyable. Our delegates were sitting in the restaurant called „1969 and time goes on”. My Jordan friend- Melissa and me were looking at the local kids with their family playing together and shared about our Active Citizen project in each country. That moment, Pakistan in us is no more a country of conflicts or terrorism; it is the country with natural beauty, joyful moment and shared connections.


There are efforts & commitment on „peace & fulfillment of human potential‟ in the past, present & future.

Talking about the past, my friend Adnan – a wise man working in Pakistan Monument Museum- told us the story of Gandhi & Jinnah Talks in 1944 to break the stalemate between Muslim League & Congress. It was not just about fighting, conflicts and

benefits.

It

represented

for

the

efforts

of

both

Pakistani and Indian on communicating to each other, to understand and to come up with a better agreement in peace.

I cannot judge the decision of history whether right or wrong. For me, the talks, though it fails, did afford Quaidi-Azam a chance to clarify the doubts and ambiguities about the right of self-determination and demand of Pakistan. At least, it is a chance for him or for Pakistani at that time to express them and to look for other people‟s understanding


About the present, in Lahore, the Active

Research states only 5% Pakistani Youth

Citizen delegation had chance to visit

can

LCWU – Lahore University for Women, where

popular for that 5% to aware of their

the

been

mission to be social responsible leaders

implemented for 3 years. Thousands female

in the future, creating changes in their

students get the chance to be equipped

society.

Active

Citizen

Project

has

go

to

university

and

it

is

not

with project management and encouraged to conduct social action projects in their

Investing

on the youth

and

developing

campus life.

their awareness as well as skills to be the next social entrepreneur generation are

British

commitment

Council to

a

sustainable Pakistan.

and

better

Partnerâ€&#x;s and

more


The example of empowering thousands

organizations

female students in Lahore is an

network

inspiring story about the trust,

promises to empower more people,

the

such

faith

support

and

the

female

efforts

Pakistani

to

raise

are

and

as

joining

delivering

students,

high

the their

schools

youth, women, disabled people, etc…

their voice, turn it into actions

for better and bigger impacts.

and

The commitment of the „peace and

position

themselves

in

the

society.

fulfillment of human potential‟ now

And Active Citizen is not running

is the effort to create a community

alone.

for

and network of Active Citizen, who

collaboration

plays the role of active change

The

partnership

good

will

and

calls

itself. YES, STEP, AIESEC and many

agent

other

others.

local

and

international

change

their

lives

and


Pakistan- Land of the Pure. Land of the Wisdom & the Courage I still remember the moment when Adnan proudly told me „Do you know the meaning of Pakistan name? It means the Land of Pureâ€&#x; He explained the meaning of Pure. Back in the time 1947, when they got their independence, they combine the letter of Punjab, Afghania Kashmir, Iran , Sindh, Tukharistan, Afghanistan, and Balochistan into PAKISTAN. It means the land of the Paks, the spiritually pure and clean.


Though now they are facing the internal conflicts, with the current commitment of society in addressing issues and creating more change agents and the awareness that they shared the same goodwill, soon the challenges will be addressed.


Gulnaz, a friend from my Active Citizen network, has strengthened that belief

in

me.

She

is

working

for

a

NGO

in

Lahore

for

women

empowerment.

She did not have the support from parents to go to school or university. She worked and learnt on her own to get access to education. Then she faced the breast cancer in one year, under the poor medical system and lack of finance resource.

After one year of treatment, Gulnaz won her life back. Gulnaz made the decision of following the career of women empowerment, which is not encouraged by family or society judgment, to support Pakistani girls.

And the 1st ladies she empowered are her 4 other sisters in family. Thanks to Gulnaz, they got the right to go to school, to follow the career they passionate about.


The privilege of youth engagement The moment I wrote things down, I feel it is overwhelmed and no words can cover all those messages. A conversation with sis Bao, on the bus from Lahore to Islamabad, recalled:


Me: Pakistan is so different from what I know. I feel overwhelmed of what I witness and learn. Sis Bao: You see, you should feel the privilege that at this young age, you have chance engaging in something meaningful to challenge your perspective and earning your own learning as well.


Pakistan is transforming. Our society also transforms.

The transformation is led by women like thousands Lahore students or Gulnaz, by man with wisdom and pride like Adnan or Ali Raza Khan, by youth with responsibility and courage like ones in YES community, and supported by a global community with good will like British Council & Partner.

I am feeling the privilege to contribute and grow in such a community.


2 weeks after coming back from Pakistan, I remember the promises to the Active Citizen Network to support this impact grow bigger & better. To get AIESEC in Vietnam with our youth communities exposed to the concept of Active Citizen, a bring-back meeting will be conducted among my AIESEC Executive Board, figuring out how AIESEC can support as an international network of Youth. Besides, Iâ€&#x;m lucky to listen to the inspiring stories from my friends like Gulnaz, Andy, Ali, Adnan, Ali Raza Khan,etc‌ And, I believe that I own a promise to get those stories shared.

[British Council - AIESEC]- Pakistan. A Mindset Changing Experience with Active Citizen- by Vy Le  
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