Khalida Parveen from Pakistan is a Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) alumni who studied business at Pierce College in 2012-2013. Here she shares her work with the Punjab Youth Festival and her goal of improving the international image of Pakistan. You can also read about her reflections on Thanksgiving and her internship at the American Red Cross.
When I was in the USA on a cultural exchange program, people would ask me many questions about Pakistan. People have a very different image of Pakistan than what is actually the case in my country. The typical question I got from many friends was, “How did people allow you to come to the USA?” I tried to tell people the positive side of Pakistan, but people believe what the media allows them to see. When I got back to Pakistan I started thinking about how we can show the world the softer side of Pakistan. There are so many ways to develop a good image of our country; one of them is sports. Sports can provide a useful way of creating an environment in which people can come together to work towards the same goal, show respect for others and share space.
I started working with Punjab Youth Festival, which started in 2012. It is one of the largest events celebrated in Lahore in the Pakistani region of Punjab. The festival is one of the largest and big platforms for youth to show their skills. When it was celebrated in 2012, dozens of world records were made and published in the Guinness Book of World Records. Some of the world records are kicking a punching bag 617 times in three minutes, 345 head kicks in 4 minutes and 45 seconds, and many more. Mehak Gull is 12-year-old young girl who set a world record by setting up a chessboard in 15 seconds using only one hand.
The festival is being held again in 2014 with aims to encourage more youth to participate and make more world records. This also aims to show the world what the youth of Pakistan are capable of. Pakistan is also inviting 40 international countries to participate in the event and build peace and friendship. One of the beauties of the event is participation of youth without any gender discrimination. I am sure people around the world think that women in Pakistan are bound and obligated to stay home. However both men and women are encouraged to participate. The purpose of writing this is to tell my friends that Pakistan is not a country of terrorists; in fact, it is a country of loving people.