I firmly believe in the philosophy of Saint Augustine. He said that, “the world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.” As I returned home after spending 7 months in Japan as an AFS Asia Kakehashi (which means building bridges in Japanese) exchange student, I felt that my suitcase was heavier than when I was leaving Pakistan. It had been filled with unforgettable memories with friends from over 10 countries, experiences that taught me important life lessons, confidence that I now have the ability to to conquer anything, and excitement to use my experience to give back to my community at home.
It all started a year ago when I saw the application form for the Asia Kakehashi Project on the LSP Facebook page and decided to give it a try. Next thing I knew, I had gone through a series of interviews and application forms. Finally, I received the selection email. It was honestly the most amazing moment in my life up till then. I landed in Japan with Akmal, Habib and Iqra. None of us knew what to expect but we were all excited to take on whatever was coming our way.
In retrospect, I think that it was the best experience ever. Japanese people are so warm. It was so fun to talk to them, exchange our experiences, learn about each other’s cultures and build a bridge between our countries- Kakehashi.
I also got the opportunity to learn a new language, experience authentic Japanese culture, get to know what it’s like to live in -13 degrees, how to use chopsticks, travel around Japan, be awe of Japan’s breath-taking landscapes, understand why Japan is a leader in technology, acquire knowledge of so many cultures from across the world, make friends for life, savor Japanese cuisine and transform into an independent individual. I have become more appreciative of the little things, open to new ideas and ready to become a leader of change in my community.
I always tried to represent Pakistan’s rich culture to the best of my ability and tell others about my beloved homeland. I am forever grateful to all of my classmates, my fellow table tennis club members, host family, dormitory staff, my LPs Shin Miyanomoto and Michie Aoki for always helping me out, taking so much care and always making me feel at home.
Lastly, all of this would have never been possible without Learn Smart Pakistan. Thank you so much to the whole LSP team for providing me this opportunity of a lifetime. Special thanks to Ma’am Sumaira for her kind concern and for putting in so much effort so that we don’t encounter difficulties.
I look forward to guiding the next batch of AFS Kakehashi students. If anyone has any queries about this program, the application process or anything else, I would be more than happy to help.