Contributed by: Oliver Fisher, Australian intern for Change in Progress 2.0 Project
Rome has the Colosseum, Paris the Eiffel tower and Agra the Taj Mahal. So what does Islamabad have, Faisal mosque perhaps? Islamabad like the rest of Pakistan has something that is more unique than a simple tourist destination as its highlight, what makes it special is something that not many countries have. It’s something that the country should be proud of, for what makes Pakistan special is the hospitality and kind nature of its people. That is something that the people of Pakistan should be immensely proud of.
I have been touched by the generosity and the kindness of the people here, the conversations that I have had with complete strangers have been some of the most inspirational conversations that I have ever had. I have been welcomed in to your homes, invited around for cups of tea and been graced with your heart warming hospitality. You have made my journey here an unforgettable one, the last six weeks have been some of the most enjoyable in my life to date. I find it refreshing that people here simply want to talk to me not because they want something from me, but because they want to know more about me and my countries culture. I like how the people here have big dreams, they want to make a difference. Not only so that they can improve there own lives but so they can help the lives of others, help Pakistan become a better place. I have heard stories of sorry and grief, stories of immense pain and despair. But as always the people here never fail to see a silver lining, they never fail to grasp on to that one piece of hope that they have and never let it go.
The people here are brave and are resilient, many have grown up with very little and yet they want to give so much. This is a rare quality for people to have and a quality that I wish more people had in Australia. I have learnt note in the last six weeks about human nature than I have in the rest of my life of my life so far. You have taught me to dream big and to never stop chasing my dreams, you have taught me that even when the day is at its darkest there is always a way to climb up in to the light. I have learnt that the unknown should not be feared but instead embraced. The people here barely knew anything about me and yet they made me part of their families, they made me feel at home in this country.
I have always felt that in Australia we do not have enough trust in one another, it is a shame because some of the great experiences in life come from trusting in the goodness of human nature. We can learn a lot from the people of Pakistan and how they treat each other. I came to Pakistan knowing very little about the people and its culture, I could say that I have been pleasantly surprised by what I have found but that would be a vast understatement. I have been impassioned by the nature of the people and their kindness and generosity. I have learnt that it is not the unknown that I should be afraid of, instead what I should be afraid if is not being able to jump in to the abyss of uncertainty that we all have. We may fall in the process, we may have a tough time. But when we fall, we find a way to to get back up again. We learn to dust ourselves off and climb higher than we have ever been before, the people here have shown me that you should never be afraid to fail and we should never stop looking to improve.
When people ask me what the highlight of Pakistan was? I will not tell them about a tourist sight or even a single event. Because what has made my trip so enjoyable is not something that is as fleeting as a visit somewhere. The highlight is something that I have had the pleasure of experiencing every day that I have been here. An experience that has grown and changed me with every passing day. What I will tell my friends, my family and anyone else who will listen is that the highlight of a trip to Pakistan is the interactions that you will have with the people here. It is something that the people of Pakistan should be proud of, many countries have magnificent architectural wonders as their main tourist draw card. But it’s very rare that the hospitality of the people is the main reason to visit a country. My time in Pakistan has almost come to an end and there is no way that I will ever be able to express my gratitude in a way that is deserving of the kindness that I have experience here. Instead I will keep my parting message a simple one, for sometimes simplicity is the best option. Allah hafiz Pakistan, Allah hafiz.