Ammara Arain is Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) student from Pakistan studying business at Pierce College. In this blog piece, Ms. Arain writes about the unique experience she had when her home country was featured in a large international festival, and the pride felt hearing her national anthem sung for the first time on international soil. Ms. Arain and her fellow students had the chance to volunteer with the Asia Pacific Cultural Center and help support this event, which 9,000 people attended.
Culture is the art, literature, music and other intellectual expressions of a particular society or time. It is an integral part of a community/ When a foreigner sees his culture being shown in a foreign country, the feeling of happiness and pride is spectacular. This is what I have experienced in a recent event held in America by the Asian Pacific Cultural Center (APCC). Every year the APCC holds an event in honor of the Lunar New Year, involving representatives from different Asian countries to represent their culture all together. It offers an opportunity to experience diverse cultures on a single platform. This year, on the 17th event of APCC, for the very first time, Pakistan was the featured country for the event. The Pacific Northwest Pakistani community in Washington presented the Pakistani culture in a way that could not have been done better and it was very well received by the audience.
America has been known to be a successful and free country. Being a part of the American life style for more than six months, I have realized how much importance and respect the other cultures get here by the people in America. It is this appreciation that has led the people all around the world to come and exhibit their culture in America. In this year’s celebration, participating countries included the host nation Pakistan, Japan, Indonesia, India, Samoa, China, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
At the start of the event the national anthem of the United States was played, followed by the national anthem of Pakistan. It was the first time for me and my other fellows from Pakistan to listen to our national anthem in a foreign country. While the national anthem played, I was feeling very proud and excited to hear it. This particular moment is one of the most memorable of my life and I will never forget it.
The marriage ceremony of Pakistan was also demonstrated, including different functions like henna, dholak, the bhangra dance and cultural music. In order to depict the actual traditional marriage, the bride was dressed in yellow during the henna while during marriage ceremony she was dressed in a customary manner. Dholak has taken its name from a percussion musical instrument known as dholki. It is a type of celebration, held before marriage that includes singing and dancing in order to welcome the happiness of a marriage ceremony at the bride’s home.
Apart from the stage events, there were stalls from different countries displaying their cultural arts and crafts, traditional foods, face painting, etc. It was a good experience tasting different foods available at the same place. The Pakistani food was staffed by the owners of a Seattle based Pakistani restaurant and was much appreciated. The Indonesian stall had traditional musical instruments including: Kolintang, angklung, as well as congklak, which is a famous traditional game played in Indonesia. One of my fellow students, Ursula Budjak from Indonesia, shared her views: “Two things impressed me in the event. The first one was the Pakistani food that I ate and their colorful dresses with lots of accessories. The second was meeting Indonesians and standing at the stalls/table presenting my country through the instruments on display”.
Overall, the event was really very good. I was very glad to see how people from different countries are bonded together by this event. Everyone was representing their unique culture by their clothing, the food they eat, and most importantly, the cultural values they adhere to. At the same time, all of them were interested in knowing the cultures of other countries. In today’s world, people move to foreign countries for studies or work, and it is only because of their cultural values that they remain intact with their native community. At the same time, they also maintain their own culture and customs which offers them a unique identity in such a way that they don’t get merged into foreign culture.
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.