When I was younger, in third or fourth grade, I would watch Benazir Bhutto’s speeches with my father. Although I didn’t understand what she said most of the time, I still adored her charismatic personality and outspokenness. Seeing her, I would often want to be a politician or maybe sometime later in my life ‘The President’ of Pakistan.
Living in a culture where girls don’t even have the right to choose their career pathway, dreaming of being Pakistan’s president sounded so dramatic and filmy to a lot of people, including my own relatives and family members, but that never affected me and my ambitions. It never stopped me to dream. I was a born dreamer!
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“Why can’t I be the President of Pakistan when I’m a really good public speaker and always win speech contests?” , I asked myself as if speech is the only thing a politician should be good at.
In Turbat, where girls dream of being either a doctor or teacher because these are most likely the only option a girl has, I dreamed of being a great leader who would speak against wrong, who would encourage people to dream and follow their hearts in terms of career choices, who would advocate for girls’ empowerment and gender equality.
I always felt people around me be that my family members or friends think my ideas of life are fantastic. Because it’s impossible for a girl who grew up in Turbat in a very middle-class family with no political background will never be elected as a president of a country like Pakistan.
But who could stop a dreamer to dream?
People dream at night, I dream every day, everywhere, every time. I dream of different things till now even when I’m seventeen.
I always knew dreams come true and there’s nothing wrong to be a die-hard dreamer like me.
When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it – The Alchemist
When I reflect upon that time when I was younger, I believe I was so true with the fact that dreams come true.
Today, when I look at how different life is than it was 8 months ago, I feel it’s the start of the journey of my dreams turning into realities.
America sounds so modern and so far away from Turbat.
When I was younger, I dreamed to go to the USA and meet President Obama who is also one of the reasons to be a politician.
I always wanted to do extraordinary things and wanted to be known worldwide as a great leader, a speaker, activist and advocate for girls’ empowerment and education.
Today, when I look back and see how far my dreams have led me to. I’m surprised, happy and proud of myself!
It has only been eight months and I’ve done so much just within a short period of time in America because of my dreams. And that doesn’t stop from here, but rather begins from here. I still want to do better every day and do great things in my life.
It all started from being the student of the month for YES program which is the scholarship program through which I came to starting my own YouTube channel with 1,500 subscribers within three months which was always a secret dream I had, to the state membership I earned for speech and debate in my high school, to meeting Indiana’s governor in the statehouse in his office where I told him that I also want to be a politician, I feel my dreams and passion have always kept me going and my thirst to seek knowledge has made me believe in dreams even more.
A month ago, I advocated for girls and youth to Indiana’s governor and senator and other political members with a non-profit organization that I’m involved in known as Girls Inc. – a nationwide organization that aims to empower girls to be smart, strong and bold.
Along with that, due to this non-profit organization, I also got to meet one of the most inspiring and powerful ladies across the globe – Dr. Terrari Trent. She’s a Zimbabwean-American educator. Dr. Trent is one of today’s most internationally recognized voices for quality education and women’s empowerment. Distinguished as Oprah Winfrey’s “All-time favorite guest”, she’s a scholar, humanitarian, motivational speaker, founder of Terrari Trent International and author of book ‘The Awakened Woman’.
Meeting her changed my life, I was always wanted to great things and empower girls, but after talking with her and meeting her, I wanted to do it with more passion and courage. I still remember when I was asking her questions about her journey, I introduced myself as an exchange student from Pakistan–Malala’s country.
And I remember after our conversation she told in front of everyone, “This girl is so inspiring”, pointing out at me.
In February, I went to a workshop with other exchange students in Washington D.C, one of my dreams cities of course. I was selected for this workshop for an essay I wrote ‘women’s rights and gender equality in Pakistan’. I had a gut feeling I would be selected because all I wrote was struggles we, girls in Pakistan face for education and equal rights. Washington DC was a trip to remember. I went to all the prominent places, from museums to memorial to the Capitol and Supreme court to the White House except meeting President Trump and former President Barack Obama which are still dreams to come true, but I’m waiting for an invitation from them when I’ll do great things in life for my people when I go back home.
But fortunately, I got to meet my State representatives and Senator there as we had meetings with them.
Apart from that, I’m also a part of various activities in my high school in the USA, such as speech and debate team where I go to different tournaments with other team members in different schools, National Honor Society Club which I earned for my high grades as an A honor roll student, International club where we discuss diversity and I’ve given multiple presentations there about Pakistan and Balochi culture, the Key club where we volunteer and build leadership skills.
I’m a member of my school journal magazine and I write as a section writer. I also write about my experiences in America and the differences between Pakistan and Pakistan.
I play sports like track which I’ve never done before. I also volunteer in different places in my community from churches to the library to nursing homes to the food banks and I’ve completed more than a hundred hours of volunteering so far.
I’ve been interviewed in different news channels back home and one of my dream channels was Voice of America where I shared my experience in America as a Pakistani teenager along with some other fellow students.
The interesting thing about American people is, they find me very confident because I don’t hesitate to talk on stages and in front of huge gatherings and I love public speaking unlike many American teenagers, brave because they think I’m too young to leave my family far behind oceans and fly all alone and inspiring because I speak against wrong and am always optimistic no matter what. People even sometimes compliment me that I resemble Malala by looks and as well as courage which makes me more determined.
I’ve experienced a lot in these eight months, I’ve seen great things, learned new things and became a better person! Many of my dreams have come true and there are so many still to become true. One dream that I have had since a kid is to make Pakistan particularly Baluchistan and Turbat peaceful and make it the best in the world. I want to do great things through my experience and knowledge, I want to be a motivational speaker for young people of Turbat to counsel them for their future, I want to be an activist for females to help them get their right to education and other basic needs, I want to be a politician to help people improve their lives.
I know it might sound too fantastic to people, but I’m a dreamer–a die core dreamer and I’ll never ever give up on my dreams.
I dream of a world where we can find peace everywhere, where education is given to every individual and our health and safety are made top priorities.
I hope when I get back home, I’ll use my skills and knowledge to benefit my people in the best possible ways I can and make a dent in my society and in the lives of people back home. I know it’s a long way to go, and it might be a hard battle to fight, but I believe fighting the wrong is worth it!
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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