In the second part of this series (first part here), Laiba Khurram describes her experiences while giving a presentation about Pakistan in a prominent Japanese speech competition. Laiba is an 11th grade student from Angels International College, Faisalabad. She is currently studying in Okayama, Japan for six months as an exchange student. Laiba was able to avail this opportunity after being selected by AFS Intercultural Programs.
I know my words have the power to change the perspectives of people about Pakistan. This exchange program has made me more patriotic. The value of your country can only be realised when you are away. Here in Japan, I leave no opportunity unexplored to explain Pakistani culture to the Japanese. I want people to be attracted towards Pakistan so our tourism industry can develop as this will eventually benefit the whole country.
I therefore leaped at the chance to participate in speech competitions in Japan and to represent Pakistan on prominent platforms.
The Mayor’s Cup Contest is held every year in my prefecture, and prestigious schools participate in the competition. I wasn’t going to present just for the Japanese but for other people around the world. Presenting Pakistan in front of around 250 teachers and guest from foreign countries was an immense pleasure. I prepared a powerpoint presentation containing all the important points I wanted to talk about. Honestly, I was nervous! I had participated in speech competitions and given presentations before, but this was a different feeling altogether. There was a huge burden on my shoulders as Pakistan’s reputation was in my hands. I was either going to be confident enough to talk about the positive side of Pakistan or I was going to fumble with a scared face and nothing to say.
In order to leave a memorable impression about my country, I wore a cultural dress from Pakistan, and showed pictures of the colourful Pakistani wedding ceremonies we all know about. People loved it! I felt like a celebrity afterwards with everyone wanting to taking pictures with me while saying kawaii (cute in Japanese). I actually started my presentation in Japanese. I gave an introduction and spoke a bit about Pakistan before switching to English. People started laughing and appreciated my attempt to speak in a different language. I dared to speak in Japanese, which was quite the challenge for me! xD
Being on stage with my flag visible to all made me feel so proud! I did the presentation twice in two different speech competitions, and a third time for my classmates. The fun and the excitement keep increasing every time. I’m looking forward to giving more presentations regarding cuisines and festivals!
Wish me luck peeps!