As the end of freshmen year approached, my mother told my siblings and I that we would be traveling to Pakistan for the first time. I was excited to hear the news, but I was still nervous because I had no idea what to expect. I have seen the beautiful scenery the country offers only through the lenses of a camera, but as the saying goes, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” The airplane ride to Pakistan was probably the most exhausting, draining, depleting trip I have ever taken. However, when we did finally reach Islamabad, Pakistan, the weary feeling was overwhelmed with excitement. The first thing I notice is the vivid colors of the night life–aside from the inescapable humid air and stares from natives easily recognizing foreigners.
Our stay in Pakistan was definitely a life changing experience. My maternal grandmother’s home, where we stayed, held three rooms, three and a half “washrooms/ toilets,” and a small, yet wide kitchen, with no counter tops. When I first walked in, I thought to myself, “Where’s the rest of the house?” However, as time passed, I realized the house was a perfect size for the whole family. The families that live in the “cramped” houses all had an understanding for one another. To them, those houses meant love and respect. Tangibles, such as clothes and money, don’t mean a thing to many in Pakistan–something I rarely see back home.
During our visit, we went to a local school about thirty minutes from our home We traveled by what is called a Qing-Qi. It runs like a motorcycle and was an amazing experience. I held on to my Aunt as we zipped through the streets. The landscape that surrounded the school was absolutely breathtaking. The steep and uniquely shaped mountains was a sight I haven’t seen before. The students that we met had such a thirst for knowledge that some walked about a mile to fulfill that thirst.
In many parts of Pakistan, few residents had running water in their homes and electricity was supplied a few hours a day, yet there was hope for a brighter future for the rising nation. It was clear that the citizens of Pakistan had an undeniable pride for their country to rise to the top. I felt a sense of belonging and acceptance from the people, even though I was an outsider.
As I sit here and reflect back on my first international experience, I can’t believe how much I have changed. After seeing the rural villages, people living in huts near the endless ocean, and people sacrificing so much for their families has opened my eyes to a whole new world. I now cherish the little moments and don’t take anything for granted. My first trip to Pakistan is the most memorable one thus far. The hope of the people has inspired me to do more for my country. I wish to one day work with an organization to help Pakistan back onto its feet. This may seem like a difficult goal to reach for some, but, like the stars that oversee my country, my dreams are clear and immeasurable.
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