Lahore and Surat met, talked, laughed and advocated a future that belongs to peace
To cross the border and to meet a neighbor country citizen is always a difficult task when it comes between Pakistan and India; but young students of two countries are paving the way of a peaceful future and exploring the similarities and differences, learning from each other, talking, laughing, enjoying with each other and exploring bond of friendships through classroom connect programs. ICT (Information, communication, technology) is the tool of connection and video conferencing is helping them to enable and to create their peaceful future through breaking stereotypes.
When Aaghaz-e-dosti Surat chapter’s coordinator Sagar Papneja in India and Amman Pukar’s President Asifa Sheikh in Lahore, Pakistan informed their students a day before about the scheduled classroom connect program where students would get an opportunity to talk with their peers on other side, students became very enthusiastic to participate in the session. Though their initial idea about the other side was much built through the secondary sources of media and what people say, they all were much excited to talk and they never had done this before. The idea was to let students from both nations learn about culture of each other in order to promote peace and it was organised in spirit of World Cultural Day. This was 15th classroom connect program of Aaghaz-e-Dosti and around 40 students from both sides took part.
The session began with students from Amman kids club Lahore gathered in Gulberg singing a song about friendship ‘Dosti aisa naata’ for their peers across border to which Indian students presented a famous bollywood song “ye dosti hum nahi todenge” (We will not break this friendship).
Safina from Lahore recited a beautiful poem and Atishi from Surat narrated a story. Students explored their subject leanings and fear as well and one Pakistani student told that she loves Maths to which Indian student expressed she was fond of English. Students Tanya, Vihaan & Keshav from Indian side spoke about their culture, festivals and traditions and Pakistani side students Urooj, Komal and Mehreen also spoke about diverse culture, festivals, traditional attires and languages of Pakistan. They talked about Ramzan, Holi, Eid, Diwali and Basant festivals.
Himakshi from India recited “Aag jalni chahiye” a famous couplet of Dushyant Kumar. Guitar was played by Kapish to which students sang “Gulaabi Aankhein Jo Teri Dekhin” and it made the whole environment filled with much fun. The atmosphere was mesmerized when Mohsin Hashmi, one of the directors of Amman Pukar, recited a poem named “sweetheart” for students on Indian side. This was followed by Sahil from Indian side reciting his beautiful poem titled “Hamara desh ek classroom” and Sofia from Lahore singing a song in her melodious voice.
During the connect program coordinators also explored their ancestry and found that while Indian coordinator Sagar’s forefathers lived in Layalpur (Faislabad) before partition, coincidentally Asifa’s grandparents belonged from Amritsar and Jalandhar. Another inspiring moment came when Mehreen from Pakistan mentioned about Akbar and Sheeshmehel in their town as Indian students had read about Akbar in history and they knew about the Indian Sheeshmehel.
After this, students were given time to directly interact with each other where they talked much about cricket, Bollywood, TV serials etc. Sahil (India) asked if the students from Pakistan also break glasses while playing street cricket and was glad with the affirmative answer and was introduced to Murtaza who had done it a lot of times. Karan (India) enquired about the street cricket rules and asked if they also have one tip one hand out. Sunny (Pakistan) replied that they also have similar crazy rules and questioned back to Indian students if they fly huge colored *Guddis*. All the Indian students together jumped on it if guddi means Patang (Kite) and then they all cheered and explained about Makar Sakranti and Kite flying festival. They then invited each other for the same. Rashmi asked them about their favorite actor and Komal replied with Mohseen Khan (he acts in Indian serials) and asked Indian students about their favourite actor to which Shilpa replied Fawad Khan. There were many such questions asked and answered.
After these conversations, Kapish presented vote of thanks and appreciated the energy and time by Pakistani students despite fasting for Ramzan. Both the sides waved good bye with a promise to talk again.
Coordinators and students on both sides expressed that this was a beautiful event to witness. An hour filled with emotions and cultural exchange to learn about each other, the similarities and the differences. Volunteers were overwhelmed as they got messages from students and their parents thanking for doing this and making it possible for students to experience something which they never had done before.
Aaghaz-e-Dosti conducts such classroom connect sessions to connect school students of Pakistan and India. This was 15th such session. For Amman Pukar, this was first such session. Asifa, President of Amman Pukar , Lahore expressed that though Amman Pukar works for promotion of peace on local level in Pakistan, this was first such session where they realized the potential efforts of peace through such video conferencing sessions. Sagar who was coordinator of Aaghaz-e-Dosti from Indian side told that considering both countries have young population, such sessions would definitely help young minds in exploring more about peace as with these sessions, students build their own opinions which are free from media bias. Founder of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, Ravi Nitesh said that we are conducting more such sessions in coming time and we are hopeful that future belongs to these young students who are advocating peace.
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