Article: Exchanges are connecting humanity – Photo blog of Raj Kumar (Pakistan)’s visit to India and US
by Raj Kumar (Pakistan)
During my 2013 Global Undergraduate Semester Exchange Program, learning respect and cherishing diversity was one of the key takeaways for me, and since then I have always strived for more diverse and culturally enriching experiences. When I found out I was selected to attend the 10th Global Youth Peace in 2015 Festival to be held in Chandigarh (India), I was ecstatic! I was going to be with participants from 12 other countries; a diversity experience like I’ve never experienced and I was to be the “Cultural Ambassador” for Pakistan! I couldn’t wait to meet the other participants and check-off several key sites on my travel to-do list: the Taj Mahal, Golden Temple, Sufi shrines, Haveli of Mirza Ghalib, Qutb Minar, the Lotus Temple, and the beautiful artificially rock garden of Chandigarh.
In honor of International Exchange Alumni’s celebration of 75 years of exchange alumni, I share my experience of exchange programs in US and India to encourage others to step out and experience the beauty of a world made up of different cultures, thoughts and a whole new set of ideas and learnings. Here is a photo blog to showcase the diversity, warmth and appreciation that I first-handedly witnessed during my exchanges to the U.S. and India.
Figure 1: In Sindh, giving this Chaddor called Ajrak is a sign of respect. I gave one to my host father in the U.S.
Figure 2: Family is not only blood-related. Here I am with my Indian-American Host Family – The Bhaskers
Figure 3: While in the U.S., I was able to mobilize funds for the vulnerable children of Tharparker through the weekly Raffle draw.
Figure 4: Sharing the taste of Pakistan. I made chicken karahi for my friends in my dorm.
Figure 5: Visiting the Vegan Community, My first ever interaction with Vegans.
Figure 6: KIWANI’s International Family: With my favorite people from the town who used to work for the betterment of community
Figure 7: The epitome of love, Taj Mahal and the peace-maker.
Figure 8: I belong to No religion, my religion is Love and every heart is my temple. At Golden Temple in Amritsar
Figure 9: Continuing with new experiences: on my first ever Rickshaw ride in New Delhi India.
Figure 10: Dresses are a part of composite heritage which brings us together.
Figure 11: The trails are the same, Its’ you who decides which one to choose. At the New Delhi Metro.
Figure 12: Exchanges are life changing, It taught me the importance of humanity coming before all social boundaries.
Figure 13: If you are into keen learning, you will learn without looking at the nationalities. Gandhi has always been my favorite for his peaceful notions.
Figure 14: As a peace-maker, I always try to find the similarities, either its food, a building or music. These all are peace connectors. The Red Fort in Agra is one such landmark that attracts tourists from far and wide.
To all my friends and fellows in Pakistan and across borders, I would like to say ‘travel, travel, and travel’. Grab your diary, sit down, and make a travel to-do list today. Exchange smile, peace, love and share meals. Travelling will give you new perspectives into constructed beliefs. It will broaden your horizon of thinking. It will amaze you how similar we are beyond man-made boundaries.
This article originally appeared at http://www.pakusalumninetwork.com/2015/12/29/first-person-exchangesare-connecting-humanity/
Raj Kumar is an educationist, peace activist and a follower of bottom up change. He works as a president for District Women Action Forum.