Hello. I am Abeeha Khalid from Quetta, Pakistan. I am currently 15 years old. I think that’s enough for a short self-introduction. Now buckle up your seat belts because I’m going to tell you all about how I ended up in Japan.
Last year, something crazy happened to me. I stumbled across an online advertisement for a fully-funded exchange program to Japan. Sounds great, right? I’m pretty sure everyone knows about Japan for its advanced technology, rich culture, and scenic beauty. It was the same for me but with a little more to it. My sister had made some Japanese friends when she went abroad and according to her, they were the best friends she had. Excited after hearing about my sister’s experience, I applied for the scholarship immediately.
Now, for the program itself, it’s funded by the MEXT scholarship and the partners for the scholarship management are AFS Intercultural Programs and Knowledge Platform. AFS Intercultural Programs is an international, non-profit organisation that offers intercultural learning opportunities to students across the globe, and Knowledge Platform is a blended learning solutions company based in Pakistan.
I went through several selection and elimination rounds for a few months, and finally, on a blessed morning in January 2020, I woke up to the great news of being selected as one of the ambassadors being sent to Japan for 10 months.
Unfortunately, however, the Coronavirus pandemic was spreading fast and the whole world was in chaos. Despite the difficult times, we still had hope because AFS and the Government of Japan were working relentlessly to find a way for us to have a fruitful and safe exchange program. It was finally decided that the program would be delayed and would start in November instead of April. The excitement of going to Japan was still present in me and though I can’t say my spirits didn’t dampen at all, I can say that I was on cloud nine at the prospect of going to Japan in November.
On 14th November 2020, my friends and I landed in Japan, ready to represent our culture in a place so different from home. To ensure our safety, we were quarantined for a fortnight. After the quarantine, we were sent to our respective hosting communities. I felt a little sad to part ways with all the new friends I had made during that time. Those friendships are very dear to me; I met many people from different Asian countries and learned more about them and their culture.
My hosting prefecture is Hakata chapter. I was already deeply interested in it before coming here. All my expectations became true in reality since Hakata really is historically relevant, culturally rich, and filled with various tourist attractions. I have been placed in my school’s dorm which is very near to my school so I take a short walk each morning in order to get to my school. Who would’ve thought that even a simple walk could teach me so much about a country and its people? The streets are calm and clean and you see many other students walking to their schools as well. When you reach the school, there are teachers standing outside in the cold, breezy mornings to greet you. Even that small act of kindness is seriously uplifting.
The Japanese school life is a very rich experience and I learn something new every day whether it’s about their language, history, or culture.
I would be lying if I said that I haven’t had a single hard day since I came here. Not only is it hard to settle in a completely new and different environment, it’s also very hard to stay strong in these difficult times, but I always try my best to remain positive. I still have a month and a half until my exchange program ends. You can expect me to share more of my experiences as a Japanese high schooler here on Knowledge Platform because while I’m a Pakistani ambassador here in Japan, back in Pakistan, I am responsible for sharing all my wonderful experiences to represent Japan.