mian sahab

Days and Nights in USA!
2010-06-09 02:14:08 (UTC)

My Story!!!

Beyond The Seven Seas

I always dreamed to study in
the US but I never thought I would live that dream so early
in my life. Some achievements in your life convince you to
believe that you are lucky, YES(Youth Exchange and Study)
Program is one of those triumphs for me. Standing on the top
of Space Needle(in Seattle), I remind myself of the day when
I was reading about it with deep desire to visit. After
spending a year in the US I am now realizing it was not just
a simple “visit” .

I am Mian Sarmad Arif. I grew up in a
small village called “Mouza Gulhari” located in the center
of Pakistan. Before coming to US, like others, all I knew
was a country where children send their parents to ‘old
folks home’, New York City and huge skyscrapers. Many people
urged my dad not to send me on this exchange program. My dad
is a principal of a government college and my mom is
housewife, like most of the women in Gulhari. I went to a
boarding school from 8th grade onwards in Northern Pakistan.
Garrison Cadet College is one of the elite institutions in
Pakistan. That’s where I met a YES alumni and was inspired
after reading about this American experience in our college
magazine. I applied for YES Program and put all my
potentials to get scholarship. I can not express the
feelings my family had when I received scholarship
acceptance form, from IEARN Pakistan. Everybody was
Pre-departure orientations from IEARN
Pakistan were real help to get mentally prepared for the
upcoming “new life”. Pakistani YES group arrived on Aug, 5
at Washington D.C. Arrival orientations at American
University helped us understand even better about the
lifestyle. I felt very privileged to see guests from US
State Department.
I was very pleased to see AYUSA staff
and my host family at North Bend airport already waiting to
receive me, carrying posters with a welcome note and my
name. North Bend is a small town on the coast of Oregon. I
had totally made my mind to do the chores like vacuuming,
doing the dishes, laundry etc. Boys usually don’t do this
type of chores at home unless they live below poverty level.
These were my very realistic expectations and were fair. But
I was totally surprised when my host mom told me that my
host brother doesn’t do any chores so she won’t make me do
anything. I have a host brother who goes to the same high
school that I go to. My story would be in complete without
mentioning the extraordinary favors of my host family. As a
Muslim I eat only Halal meat(meat of cattle, slaughtered in
a specific way) which is not normally available in small
towns like North Bend. My host sister sends Halal meat
regularly from another city and even spices. I feel very
I am the first Pakistani, Muslim, YES
student ever at North Bend High School where everyone is
very friendly and welcoming. I chose classes which I could
never get a chance to study in Pakistani such as Drafting
and Design and Global Issues. Communication was a big
challenge in the start. Although I spoke perfect English but
no body could understand me because of my accent and I had a
hard time understanding American accent too. But it was only
for the first month and a half, after that I was totally
fine. I played tennis for the first time which helped me
make a lot of friends.
I was unaware of how important it is to
give people a proper understanding of, what is a real
Pakistan. “Do you guys have internet in Pakistan?” “Where
exactly is Pakistan in the Middle East?” “Do you guys cut
off the hands of the thieves?” and many more questions were
asked of me. Even the teachers used to ask “what are
Pakistanis doing?” every time they read about some bomb
blast. I explained how they have nothing to do with
Pakistan, they are our common enemies. I answered all the
questions in the best possible way I could and I am so glad
that they all understood. I think they just never got a
chance to hear the other point of view. I did many
presentations on Pakistani Culture and Islam in different
schools and Rotary Club.
I wrote a letter to the editor of the
local newspaper which was published under the topic,”
Pakistani Perspective”. I got to visit the capitol to two
states Washington and Oregon. In Washington state capitol I
met Senator Gerom Delvin. I won the scholarship for YES
Youth Leadership Summit which was held in San Jose, CA by
AYUSA. After having all these experiences, I feel more
confident than ever before. I have never been this outgoing,
I didn’t know much about America and even about my own
country as I do know now. All my high school friends now
make jokes about how unaware they were and so was I. I
still, may not agree with contrary things in different
cultures but at least I can look at things from different
perspective, I can see the logic in that and I can express
myself. I tried my level best to promote understanding
instead of tolerance.
There are few days left to leave this place
where ever lasting memories are held. The fun at sleep-
overs, movies, prom, senior skip day, bowling, walks in the
downtown for no reason and Papa Murphy’s pizza are some of
the things I won’t ever be able to forget. It will be hard
for me to stop tears on the final day but on the other side
I haven’t seen my family for last ten months and I cant wait
any longer to see them. Moreover, I have to tell people back
home about real America. There is a lot more experience and
a lot to be discovered so I am ready to head back home. To
future YES students I would advise to represent their
country with full zeal and enjoy the year, I bet it will be
a life changing experience.