Junaid Kamran, a student from Pakistan studying digital design, is a participant in the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) program at Pierce College. In this blog post he addresses stereotypes, sharing what he has learned so far this year regarding perceptions and reality, and how he seeks to change misconceptions about his home country through this cultural exchange program.
One of the dreams in my life was to come to the United States of America, a dream which became true. Before I came to the USA, I was excited about the new culture and new people. There is an interesting thing I want to share with you. Five days before my flight to the USA a person met with me in my office and told me that, “You cannot go out of your apartment in the US at night time because there will be black people who will hit you on the way; and then they will take everything from your pockets.” When I listened to that I was worried until my arrival in the US. However, in the US I have had different experiences with African Americans. Those that I have met are not thieves or offensive, but they are so nice. Also, many of my friends are African American and I really respect them due to their best qualities. There are intelligent persons in our NWCCI group, who are people of color from Ghana, South Africa, Colombia and the Ivory Coast with beauty in their compassion, kindness, outstanding knowledge and excellent attitudes. Now I don’t believe in discrimination on the basis of people’s color, but I believe in recognizing the individual qualities of people that can change the world. Barack Hussein Obama also belongs to an African American family, but his individual characteristics qualify him to be the president of the United States. In the United States I have had the opportunity to meet people of color for the first time, and I have learned that the stereotypes I had before were wrong.
I give my attention to my program to learn practical experiences with different cultures, as well as my major in graphic design. This experience will give me the opportunity to open doors in my career as well; it will help me to improve my existing business named Millat Advertisers because the US is considered to be a place of opportunities. I got so much information from our activities scheduled by our kind advisor Bebhinn L. Horrigan. She is so nice to encourage us to learn from these activities instead of just participating.
Sometime Bebhinn uses the term “ambassador” for us. The term encourages me to show the real image of my country. So, if I don’t the mention misconceptions of some people about my country, it will be like I am hiding something. For instance, some people have an idea about my country that it is involved in terrorism, and some people mix terrorism with Islam and Pakistan. People from Pakistan are victimized by terrorism because terrorists are destroying the mosques (places of Muslims’ worship) and killing the innocent people of my country. I don’t understand how some people connect terrorism with Pakistan and Islam. Islam is a peaceful religion of approximately 1.5 billion people of the world; therefore, how can some people connect a tiny group of terrorists with a whole community of Muslims? Terrorists just use the name of Islam.
My hometown Peshawar was supposed to be a “City of Flowers”; however now these flowers have withered away and recently terrorists attacked a school named Army Public School in Peshawar. As a result, almost 150 children were sacrificed because of terrorism. There is another example in Malala Yousafzai, who was a victim of terrorism with gunshot in her forehead, but Allah gave her new life. She is a part of my culture because she belongs to my province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and she speaks the Pashto language like I do. She gave a strong reply to terrorists and now the world stands with her campaign about education, human rights and peace. Recently, she got a Nobel Prize for female education. In my experience, most Pakistanis condemn terrorism and the idea that there is a connection between Islam and terrorism baseless.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the student bloggers.