The Business of News: Alumni Attend Karachi Journalism Summit

By Hira Nafees Shah

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Group Photograph of the U.S.-Pakistan Professional Partnership in Journalism (PPJ) Alumni with trainers and organizers of the ICFJ Alumni Summit

Negotiating time off is never easy for a news professional, but for senior journalist Awais Hameed, attendance at the alumni summit in Karachi at the Center for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) was a “couldn’t miss” opportunity to enhance his media skills.

“I have worked in electronic media for eight years and today was the first time that I have ever held a camera,” he said. “Working as a journalist in Pakistan, I really feel that we don’t invest in research and training of our journalists.”

Awais’ training was part of a unique four-day journalism conference organized by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the newly-established CEJ at the Institute for Business Administration (IBA), and the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN).

More than 120 journalist alumni of the U.S.-Pakistan Professional Partnership in Journalism (PPJ) attended the event.  The PPJ is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to allow U.S. and Pakistani journalists to see how each other’s newsrooms function.  Since 2011, 13 batches of Pakistani journalists have visited the United States on the PPJ program, with a fourteenth group scheduled to depart later this year.

“The purpose of this ICFJ alumni summit was to bring [together] all journalists under one roof who went on the Journalists Exchange Program to the U.S. in different batches,” said Babar Taimur, Program Director of Pakistan programs at ICFJ.  “We also wanted to integrate CEJ as a space for professional training for working journalists.”

The conference was held in Karachi from July 23 to 26.  U.S. Consul General Brian Heath delivered the opening remarks and emphasized the role that journalists can play in making the world a better place.

“The U.S. exchange programs in Pakistan are amongst the largest in the world,” he said. “Through [the PPJ], exchange participants work side by side with American journalists and find innovative ways of contributing to Pakistan.”

Training Sessions Draw Praise from Participants

Over the course of four days, each of the nearly 120 participants attended six breakout sessions on a variety of topics, including “Social Media for Journalists,” “Investigative Reporting”, “Multimedia-Interactive Storytelling,” “Journalistic Ethics,” “Digital Security for Journalists,” and “Data Journalism.”

“On social media if you have to choose between being first or being right in breaking a news, always choose right,” said Wajahat Ali, an Al-Jazeera America journalist, during his session on Social Media. “Also ‘sharing is caring’ so make sure to promote others’ good content on social media as well.”

A participant conducting a mock interview from another attendee about creating the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich during the Multimedia-Interactive Storytelling session

A participant conducting a mock interview from another attendee about creating the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich during the Multimedia-Interactive Storytelling session

The smaller groups of alumni had an opportunity to participate in each of the six training sessions.  “I found the storytelling session very useful because I learned how to tell my story through five different video shots,” said Hasan Raza Zaidi, a reporter from Lahore.

“After attending the data journalism session, I feel I can [better] work with datasets in the future and experiment with the different tools,” said Mohammad Irfan Haider from Dawn Media Group in Islamabad.

“The digital security presentation was very good because before I did not know that secure data can also be transmitted through Wi-Fi,” said Umar Farooq, an Express Tribune Correspondent from Peshawar.

ICFJ Vice President of Programs Patrick Butler used interactive sessions and lectures to make participants tackle difficult ethical situations and practice in-depth reporting.

International Managing Editor at Bloomberg Ethan Bronner delivered the keynote session, and spoke about the upheavals facing the journalism profession, and the way newsmakers should ideally respond.

“You should embrace the democratic nature of journalism,” he said.  The summit also featured two panel discussions entitled “Future of News” and “Conflict of Interest.”

International trainers during the ‘Conflicts of Interest’ panel discussion

International trainers during the ‘Conflicts of Interest’ panel discussion

Veteran journalists Badar Alam and Kamal Siddiqui spoke about how print, broadcast, and online news were adapting to the convergence of media forms and how social media has affected the traditional modes of conveying information.

The “Conflicts of Interest” panel drew many comments and questions from the audience, ranging from how to report about friends who turn into sources and how to remain objective and neutral when a journalist has a strong personal opinion about a story.

Towards More Polished Story-telling

During the event, participants also reflected on how the PPJ had opened up new avenues for them and how their impressions of the United States had changed.

“The best thing about the exchange program is that it has a follow-up,” said Dawood Tareen, a filmmaker from Balochistan. “We live in Pakistan but we receive access to the best facilities because of our exchange experience.”

“I became a multimedia journalist after going on my exchange program,” said Samreen Ghauri, a participant from Hyderabad. “Now while living in Pakistan, ICFJ has provided an opportunity for us to interact with international level journalists and learn from them.”

The American journalists were just as affected by their time in Pakistan.

“I got a better understanding of the circumstances in which Pakistani journalists work,” said Lam Vo, an Al-Jazeera America journalist. “It also established a higher bar of respect for them.”

“My trip to Pakistan has made me aware of the privileges that we share in America and it has been a very humbling experience,” said Wajahat Ali, an Al-Jazeera America journalist. “The journalists in Pakistan have to navigate a unique set of challenges.”

The event organizers were just as pleased with the turn-out and success of the summit.

Female participants at the ICFJ Alumni Summit

Female participants at the ICFJ Alumni Summit

“I am thrilled about the success of the event,” said Christie Marie Lauder, Program Manager at CEJ. “It has been tremendously gratifying and the collaborations with PUAN and others have brought a new sense to what this event could be [and] new ideas to the table.”

Many managers expressed their appreciation to the United States Educational Foundation in Pakistan (USEFP) for selecting high quality Pakistani media personnel to participate in the exchange to America, and looked forward to a continued partnership in order to improve journalism in both countries.

“I have met every single group of journalists here and feel quite energized,” said Patrick Butler. “As for the next step, we would encourage the journalists’ alumni, to apply for PUAN grants and continue to involve them in the CEJ.”

To take a look at the photographs from the event, visit:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pakusalumni/sets/72157656022811178

Fulbright Alumna Pushes Boundaries of Pakistan’s Art World

By Hira Nafees Shah

Truck artist creating his magic at Natasha Jozi’s exhibition

Truck artist creating his magic at Natasha Jozi’s exhibition

Inside a cubicle a man solemnly stands on one leg while a young woman applies mud to his body. Occasionally she stops to apply the mud to herself, in a process that continued for over an hour.

What was taking place wasn’t a mud-masque spa treatment, but an art performance piece depicting how the impressions human beings form about each other affect their perceptions.

In a nearby performance space, a middle-aged man stands on a stool with a paintbrush in hand as curious on-lookers gather around.  He starts to paint an eagle on the wall before him with skill acquired through many years of practice.

This combination of traditional and unconventional forms of new media art were part of an exhibition titled “We Are All Mad Here,” which was held in Islamabad from May to June. The event was curated by Fulbright alumna Natasha Jozi and revolved around the theme of women’s empowerment. Audiences were promised an experience, which Natasha and her artists delivered.

Fulbright Alumna Natasha Jozi presenting her Alumni Small Grant project ‘We Are All Mad Here’

Fulbright Alumna Natasha Jozi presenting her Alumni Small Grant project ‘We Are All Mad Here’

“I decided to hold this initiative because I wanted to engage different parts of the community in an art project,” Natasha said. “As a fresh alumna, I [wanted] to stay associated with the Fulbright family, as it is my first project since coming back from America.”

The Pakistan-U.S Alumni Network funded the project through a $5,000 USD  Alumni Small Grant. All alumni of various U.S sponsored exchange programs in Pakistan can apply for the grant to enable them to give back to their communities.

“I feel that this is an excellent exhibition because it depicts new ideas and presents a new approach to art and thought,” said Riffat Noureen, a housewife and a visitor to the exhibition. “For example, the two students who are coloring themselves are conveying a message through it.”

“I love this exhibition because it is something that I haven’t seen before,” said Maira Tanveer, a visitor. “I felt new media is a different way of expressing thoughts which are subject to interpretation and it is more visual and daring.”

Workshops Introduce Students to New Media

Natasha kicked off her project by holding two workshops on new media. One was held at the Fatima Jinnah Women University with about 70 student participants. The other workshop was held at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) and included about 40 students from NUST, COMSATS, NCA and Hunerkada.

During the workshops, students developed four art projects of their own which were also included in the exhibition. In addition, nine national artists from across Pakistan and a few of their international counterparts participated in the final event of the exhibition, which drew more than 500 people.

Fatima Jinnah Women University’s students’ performance piece called ‘The Game’

Fatima Jinnah Women University’s students’ performance piece called ‘The Game’

“At the opening night, there were twice as many people in the gallery than in the reception,” said Natasha. “I thought oh my God! This is what I had wanted for people to come and see the work.”

Responses to the exhibition varied, as most visitors had never seen such performances and concepts, it was a lot for many to process.

“I liked the Game of life piece because it is like catharsis,” said Maryam Syed, a doctor referring to a performance in which four people were playing chess wearing masks. “I think new media is needed to make people think outside the box.”

“I prefer Amina Rizwan’s technique because it is hard to understand how she embellishes jewelry and how she creates art from items of everyday use,” said Mohammad Irtiza, an NCA Student.

Traditional Art in a New Medium

Meanwhile, painters working in traditional Pakistani forms, such as truck artists and rickshaw makers, were given a place at the event. The Fulbright alumna wanted viewers to see these artists creating the work in front of their eyes, so that it would become performance art and the role of the artist would not be diminished in the final pieces.

After the successful culmination of her project, Jozi says she can attribute her achievement to her exchange experience.

“My Fulbright experience transformed me and opened me to work I had not experienced before,” she said. “I went as a painter and came back as a performance artist.”

Two female visitors look on as performance artists present their exhibit ‘Rang-e-Khaak’ at “We Are All Mad Here” exhibition

Two female visitors look on as performance artists present their exhibit ‘Rang-e-Khaak’ at “We Are All Mad Here” exhibition

She believes that giving back to Pakistan is her goal now and the Alumni Small Grant was a step in the right direction.

“The organizers of the Alumni Small Grant gave me 100 percent freedom with how I wanted to use the funds as an artist,” she said. “This encouraged me to give my 200 percent in the three months, that the project was underway.”

For her next step, Natasha plans to start an international residency project for artists in Pakistan so that they can come and live in the country and introduce new mediums of art. She also hopes to work with the BBC in the future, so that they can interview Pakistani artists and bring attention to their installations on the international stage.

But for now, the Fulbright alumna is taking it one step at a time as she completes a performance art exhibition in Switzerland.

“I really feel energized and can’t wait to come back and start my next exhibition”.

To find out more about ‘We are All Mad Here’, take a look at this link:

https://www.facebook.com/waamhere?fref=ts

Young Leaders Scouts Bond with Nature during Camp

By Hira Nafees Shah

Organizers and participants of Young Leaders Scouts Camp 2015 with U.S Ambassador Richard Olson

Organizers and participants of Young Leaders Scouts Camp 2015 with U.S Ambassador Richard Olson

Tenth-grader Aimen Gul laughed as she tried to balance on top of her teammate to create a human pyramid – an unusual sight in Pakistan, and not only because of the activity, but also because Aimen was taking part in a co-educational camp sponsored by the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) and the Pakistan Boy Scouts Association.

“I really liked forming the human pyramid . . . it was great fun!” Gul gushed.

The 2015 Young Leaders Scout Camp featured three days of fun and excitement as well as practical lessons in how cooperation, leadership, and inclusion can build something substantial.  More than 120 participants between the ages of 14 and 17 took part in the event, which included both scouts and alumni.

Benjamin Franklin Institute Alumnus Faran Ali and English Access Microscholarship Program Alumnus Kamran Javed jointly organized the project which took place with the help of an Alumni Small Grant from PUAN.

English Access Micro-scholarship Program Alumnus Kamran Javed and Benjamin Franklin Institute Alumnus Faran Ali with U.S Ambassador Richard Olson at the camp

English Access Micro-scholarship Program Alumnus Kamran Javed and Benjamin Franklin Institute Alumnus Faran Ali with U.S Ambassador Richard Olson at the camp

“Last year, I went to Denver to take part in an event organized by the American Boy Scouts Association,” said Javed. “When I came back, Faran and I decided to hold this project to pass our additional learning on to the Pakistani Boy Scouts and to Access Alumni so that we could motivate them further.”

U.S Ambassador Richard Olson, an American eagle scout and life-long scouting proponent, was the chief guest of the occasion. “This project brings together two organizations committed to Pakistan–the Boy Scouts Association and the Pakistan-U.S Alumni Network,” he said.

Camp offers a Range of Activities

“I found Ambassador’s Olson speech quite inspiring as he was also a Boy Scout at a very young age,” said Syra Basharat, a student.

“I really like the camp because we had not campaigned with Ambassador Olson before and this was very important for our motivation,” said Ibrahim Khan, a Boy Scout.

On day one, the organizers divided the attendees, which included several young women, into 12 teams (“patrols”). Each patrol then competed in a range of competitions including tent-pitching, tree plantation, archery, table-tennis, volleyball, and football. Participants also attended a number of sessions on First Aid Training, Leadership, and Scouting, to help the participants develop important life skills.

The organizers and students also made a series of drawings under a theme called the “Messengers of Peace.”

“I think the best way to promote peace was through the drawings,” said Mawiya Abbasi, a BBA Student. “This is because not just one mind worked on them, but a lot of people collaborated together to transfer their ideas about peace onto paper.”

Some Female participants of the Young Leaders Scouts Camp 2015

Some Female participants of the Young Leaders Scouts Camp 2015

“It my first experience working with scouts, so I had a lot of fun,” said Mehreen Abbasi, Access Alumna. “I was also able to develop friendships with people from different areas who had come to Islamabad to attend the camp.”

Learning and Fun Take Place Together

The sessions were a huge success. A speaker showed a video about Pakistani child prodigy Arfa Karim in a meeting titled “Go Perpendicular” and induced the participants to think carefully about what they wanted to do with their lives.

Meanwhile, First Aid practice session stretched for three hours and the attendees learned how to deal with many different emergency situations, from setting broken bones to dealing with a household fire.

“The camp is a very good initiative as it involves a number of physical activities which are very good for mental growth,” said Arooj Iqbal, an Access alumna.

Finally a team from the United Nations conducted an exercise with the participants to find out what their future goals were while a communication and media relations expert stressed upon the importance of conveying one’s message properly to reach the right audience.

But the icing on the cake for the attendees was a bonfire and cultural night, where they represented their home cultures through dance, dress, and music, while experiencing the life of boy scouts.

Speaker M. Jawad holding an activity with the participants during the session ‘Go Perpendicular’

Speaker M. Jawad holding an activity with the participants during the session ‘Go Perpendicular’

As for Kamran Javed, the alumnus is grateful about the outcome of his project.

“I am happy and satisfied with the success of my project,” said the Access Alumnus. “As for the next step, I want to do this event on a bigger scale with a higher number of participants next year, so that its impact can be greater.”

To find out more about his Alumni Small Grant project, take a look at this link:

https://www.facebook.com/YLSC15?fref=ts

Inspirational NESA Alumnus Arranges Free Workshops for Persons with Disabilities

By Hira Nafees Shah

Instructor Waleed Hashmi and his participants communicating with each other through sign language during the workshop

Instructor Waleed Hashmi and his participants communicating with each other through sign language during the workshop

A young man stood in front of a room full of students with his arms extended towards them. Silently, the students all gestured back as they watched the non-verbal cues and concepts displayed on the projector screen behind the man.

For a person endowed with the gifts of speech and hearing, learning sign language might seem a bit unusual, but for the instructor, Near East and South Asia Undergraduate Exchange (NESA)   Alumnus Waleed Hashmi, and the participants it was a routine fact of life.

Hashmi taught the workshop “Introduction to Deaf History and Deaf Culture in America” to motivate students with physical and mental disabilities to achieve success.

“I am doing these workshops because one of my American teachers made me promise that I would try to raise the standard of living for deaf people in Pakistan,” Hashmi signed. “America helped me and now I am helping my own community in Pakistan.”

Near East and South Asia Undergraduate Exchange (NESA) Alumnus Waleed Hashmi

Near East and South Asia Undergraduate Exchange (NESA) Alumnus Waleed Hashmi

This extraordinary spirit of community service motivated Hashmi to conduct three workshops to date for persons with disabilities in Lahore. One workshop held at the Inayat Foundation Academy for the Deaf attracted nearly 100 people, while another at the Hamza Foundation received close to 50 participants.

In the latest presentation held at the Deaf Reach Training Center, Hashmi gave examples of various deaf people throughout history who achieved extraordinary feats such as Doctor Lisa Woolf and actor Charlie McKinney. Hashmi encouraged the participants to look to these examples as evidence and motivation that they too can achieve success in life.

Students were excited to learn of these examples, and took Hashmi’s message to heart:

“I learned that deaf people can do anything and can also become doctors and lawyers,” Zain Nadeem, a student from National College of Arts (NCA) Lahore who communicated through sign language.

“I learned that deaf people are working at the level of normal people in America and it was an eye-opening experience for me,” expressed participant Saima Moeen, who studies at a government school.

Other participants appreciated Hashmi for organizing and conducting the workshops and for also shedding light on the plight of people with disabilities in Pakistan.

“The biggest problem facing special people . . . is that they are not taught science or mathematics,” said participant Irfan Ahmed. “The only training that they receive is in skilled labor.”

Participants at Waleed Hashmi’s Workshop on  “Introduction to Deaf History and Deaf Culture in America”

Participants at Waleed Hashmi’s Workshop on
“Introduction to Deaf History and Deaf Culture in America”

Despite the enormous challenges facing people with disabilities in Pakistan, there are still many, like Hashmi, who have not let their disabilities limit their potential.  Hashmi earned a Master’s degree from the National College of Arts (NCA) and currently works in advertising.  He is proud of his achievements, but believes that helping others with disabilities in Pakistan is the most important objective in his life.

The NESA alumnus hopes his efforts will inspire these students to take action at the national level – to propose and pass effective laws for persons with disabilities and achieve representation in Parliament. “Deaf people in Pakistan should rise and improve their conditions,” he said.

But for now, Hashmi is satisfied by his grass-roots initiative to create change.

“I feel happy and satisfied and hope that maybe something will get better someday,” he said. “I am not thinking about myself, but want my community to prosper . . . . Conveying the message is most important now.”

To learn more about Hashmi’s community service activities, check out this link:

www.facebook.com/pages/Community-Service-by-Waleed-Hashmi/1528695087399391?fref=ts

Alumna Expands Career Options to Give Students in Sargodha a Brighter Future

By Hira Nafees Shah

Chief Guests, Teachers, Organizers and students of the ‘Mashal-e-Rah’ project at its closing ceremony

Chief Guests, Teachers, Organizers and students of the ‘Mashal-e-Rah’ project at its closing ceremony

Anxiously, tenth grader Faiza Maqsood walked in to the room and took a seat across from a Sargodha university student. Although Faiza’s classmates had reassured her, the idea of sitting next to a complete stranger to discuss her career prospects was nerve-wracking.

“The team asked us questions and we gave answers,” explained Faiza. “They basically counselled us about what our future plans should be and how many marks I should get to enter a specific field.”

Faiza was just one of nearly a thousand students in grades eight to ten who participated in career-counseling workshops conducted by psychology students from the University of Sargodha. The project, dubbed “Mashal-e-Rah” was led by Global UGrad Alumna Maryam Gul, who helped arrange the career counselling workshops in twelve low-income schools of Sargodha through an Alumni Small Grant from the Pakistan-U.S Alumni Network. All alumni of various U.S sponsored exchange programs in Pakistan can apply for the grant to enable them to give back to their communities.

UGrad Alumna Maryum Gul

UGrad Alumna Maryum Gul

Maryam’s objective in developing this project was simple: “I wanted to get rid of the philosophy that students can only be doctors or engineers,” she said. “I also wanted to serve humanity and make my career [more] human-oriented.”

A Sargodha teacher echoed Maryam’s beliefs, noting that students in Sargodha, and Pakistan in general, often only study the subjects that their parents wanted them to. This trend is even more common in public schools.

Assessing Interest through Psychology

Mashal-e-Rah kicked off with a confidence boosting session to make the students feel comfortable.

Then, the university students administered the RIASEC test which measures students’ career interests by determining their personality “type”: Realistic (Doers), Investigative (Thinkers), Artistic (Creators), Social (Helpers), Enterprising (Persuaders), and Conventional (Organizers). After the assessment, students were provided a list of relevant careers they could excel in along with information on over 300 different fields of education.

During the event, the organizers gave prizes to high-achieving pupils from the area to encourage them in their educational pursuits. There was also a Skype session with U.S Consulate Lahore’s Public Affairs Officer Rachael Chen who praised Gul and her team for carrying out the initiative.

A mentor asking a series of questions from a student at Merry Rose School

A mentor asking a series of questions from a student at Merry Rose School

“The organizers came and encouraged our students,” said Qamar-un-Nisa, a teacher at Government Girls High School. “Even we didn’t know that our students could speak so well. Kids have talent and just need to be groomed this way.”

Now, many students are happily looking forward to the future. “Maryam and her team told us that we should continue studying and not be afraid or hesitant,” said Ujala Habib, a ninth grade student at Bright Model School.

The closing ceremony of the project was a successful affair with the students, teachers and principals of most of the participating schools in attendance including the DCO Education of Sargodha.

Reviews and Future News

Overall, Mashal-e-Rah received positive reviews from students, teachers, and school administrators.

“The project was very useful for finding out the hidden potential of the students,” said Kanwal Hassan, the Principal of Harvard School.

Many students especially appreciated learning more about the required marks needed to earn a higher degree in a particular subject. Some students offered suggestions for future programs and requested follow-on sessions to further-promote the concept.

Students from Harvard School performing at the closing ceremony of the project

Students from Harvard School performing at the closing ceremony of the project

“I think there should be a follow-up program in which they should train one or two of the teachers,” said Saad Hassan, an eighth grade student at The Harvard School. “The school should form a partnership with them, so that they can continue to give guidelines to the students.”

UGrad Alumna Maryam Gul feels that the success of her Alumni Small Grant project is owed to her exchange experience.

“If I hadn’t gone to the U.S, I would not have been able to initiate this project,” said Maryam. “Thank you to the U.S for changing my life and now I am able to achieve my dreams.”

As far as sustainability of the venture is concerned, the alumna happily reports that there are plans to replicate her project in the KP/FATA and Jamshoro chapters of the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network, thereby paving the way for benefiting the student body in these places.

To find out more about ‘Mashal-e-Rah’, take a look at this link:

https://www.facebook.com/MeRsgd?fref=ts

AJK Alumna Brings Attention to Tourism Development with Destination Kashmir Camp

By Hira Nafees Shah

Participants of Destination Kashmir-Young Leaders Camp with the organizers

Participants of Destination Kashmir-Young Leaders Camp with the organizers

Surrounded by towering pine-trees and majestic hilltops, the beautiful Banjosa Lake in Rawalakot of Azad Kashmir played host to a group of excited teenagers in March 2015. These teens were part of project called “Destination Kashmir-Young Leaders Camp (YLC)” organized by Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES) Alumna Lubna Noreen. Noreen was able to carry out the initiative after receiving an Alumni Small Grant from the Pakistan-U.S Alumni Network (PUAN). All alumni of various U.S sponsored exchange programs in Pakistan are eligible to apply for the grant to enable them to give back to their communities.

“I initiated this project because I felt that the PUAN Azad Kashmir chapter is not very active,” she said. “So I felt that students and alumni should get together, have a positive environment and receive a good opportunity to learn.”

Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES) Alumna Lubna Noreen

Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES) Alumna Lubna Noreen

The opening ceremony was attended by about 100 people from all over Pakistan who enthusiastically participated in the three day event that included training sessions, group energizers, and study trips to tourist destinations in Rawalakot. The attendees came from far and wide – some even traveled 36 hours to join the camp.

“This event gives a message of peace, love, and brotherhood from the Kashmiri people to the rest of Pakistan,” said Zeeshan Haider from the Ministry of Youth Affairs at the opening ceremony.

Learning to Give Back to Community

One YLC trainer explained that the camp is aimed at teaching these kids how “to serve [their] community, look at issues within [their] community, and make a social action plan.” Topics like Community Service, Leadership, Tourism, Governance and Democracy were discussed in detail, so that the participants could realize how they could make a difference in their individual capacities.

“The panel discussion about community service was very good as it made us realize the importance of contributing for the betterment of the society,” said Khushbakhat Javad, a YES Alumna. “Now I am also planning to hold a project to help out people during the month of Ramazan.”

The speakers at the Community Service and Youth Participation session included activists Raj Kumar and Umer Farooq, Ministry of Youth Affairs Coordinator Zeeshan Haider and Leadership Trainer Nazish Karim, who shared their perspectives on community service:

“Change cannot be implemented from outside,” said Farooq. “It is not the responsibility of one person but of the whole community . . . we need to be motivated.”

Breakout Session on Leadership and Governance being held at Banjosa Lake

Breakout Session on Leadership and Governance being held at Banjosa Lake

Sustainable Development

An important aspect of the camp was its focus on youth empowerment in sustainable development to help preserve scenic locations in Pakistan, like Banjosa Lake. During her exchange experience, YES alumna Lubna Noreen went on a camping trip, which not only taught her some essential survival skills, but also the importance of preserving and appreciating nature. Now she hopes to pass on her knowledge to the YLC participants.

“The theme of the sustainable development session was how to keep the natural environment healthy,” said Adil Rubani, a participant from Quetta. “We talked about global warming and how to control its effects.”

The camp also included an informative and refreshing energizer by activist Zayedan Khan which left the audience in fits. A musical night and series of skits imitating politicians were the cherry on top of the experience.

The last day of the gathering, the participants visited Tolipeer. In between snow-ball fights on the hilltop, the campers held a brainstorming session on how to best serve their areas and give back to the country.

“The trainers took us from an ‘I’ to ‘We’ journey, and made us realize that we should start thinking about it,” said Mariam Batool, a student.

Overall Impressions

YLC campers overall seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and the experience. Many were just as excited by the location as they were by the lessons learned.

“A friend told me about this project and I decided to attend it,” said Hassan Sultan, a participant.

Brainstorming underway at session on Education for Sustainable Development at Banjosa Lake

Brainstorming underway at session on Education for Sustainable Development at Banjosa Lake

“I had never seen Kashmir before and it is a kind of a little heaven,” said Attiya Iram, a participant from Bahawalpur.  “It is good that study trips are taking place during this event, because we conduct a lot of indoor sessions and outdoor activities provide a whole different level of learning.”

“In Destination Kashmir, the focus is to bring people from all over Pakistan to these places,” said Sania Malik, a participant from District Kotli. “People learn a lot from these projects.”

As for Lubna Noreen, she says she is grateful for the way everything turned out.

“I feel very good and very responsible,” she said.

For more details on the project, take a look at this link:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DestinationKashmir/