Better Understanding for a Better World

[Originally published on the Civilizations Exchange & Cooperation Foundation’s Facebook page]

Syed Aown Shahzad (Speech at Banquet)

Honorable guests, respectable chaperons, distinguished associates and my dear friends from all over the world, Salam-o-Alikum.

By now I know most of you and hopefully you know me as well, for others who don’t I would like to introduce myself. My name is Aown Shahzad from I am from Pakistan. I arrived in USA as an International Exchange student during 1st week of august last year along with 57 other students from all over Pakistan. Some of whom are sitting next to you. We represented our country in USA just as students from Kenya, Russia, Indonesia, Morocco, Malaysia and other countries represented their respective countries over here.

We came to share our culture and traditions with the American people and in turn learn about their culture and traditions. We are also here to remove some of the misconceptions that we have about each other. We all our living in different states all over America but working for the same noble cause of international peace, harmony and better understanding.

Now before I arrived in USA, I was extremely nervous as how I am going to live and adjust in completely different surroundings and adapt to a culture norms and values which were alien to me. The thought of living without my favorite spicy cuisines and with an American family quite honestly frightened me a little. I truly imagined that my family over here would be like the one shown in TV shows maybe like the Simpsons. But fortunately when I met them, all my worries and apprehensions got vanished as I found them to be really nice, caring and loving. My host family however was very much surprised as they were not expecting me to know about Simpsons or any other American TV show. Similarly when I went to my school the usual question asked there was that how do I speak so good English, did I come to America on a camel and one of my favorites do you have McDonalds in Pakistan?

I am sure all of you like me have shared a similar experience and that is why this conference is so important and vital. OUR preconceived ideas, stereotype thinking and misconceptions about each other are what come between peace and harmony all around the world. But by the grace of God we all took steps to recognize and correct this approach once we decided to become exchange students. This conference has not only provided us an opportunity for “better understanding for a better world ” but has also strengthened our resolve to put in our efforts in this regard, because we are not only 1 Nation here but 28 Nations from around the world. We have shown that we are not merely exchange students but truly “little ambassadors from our respective countries”.

For a better understanding of the world we should have a better understanding of the issues of the world.

In lieu of this role as a little ambassador I have tried to do my utmost wherever I could in every possible manner. I personally have been greatly honored for representing as the youth delegate when I was chosen along with 12 other students from other nationalities for secretary general high level summit on Climate Change held at the United Nations. This summit which brought political attention to the need for accelerated action on climate change was attended by the world leaders. Here we as youth delegates presented our perspective on this important issue and our effort was greatly appreciated by the most influential people of the world. Thus to confront any global or common issue we must have a better understanding and respect of each other’s sentiments, traditions, customs and values. By getting together and eliminating our social and racial barriers only then we can be able to effectively tackle any problem which may so arises.

We came to this conference 4 days ago with nothing but the word PEACE in mind. We hardly knew each other and now we have become friends for life. We went to a church, a synagogue and a mosque together. We saw a Priest, a Rabbi and a Maulvi sitting together and presenting a unified composure. We overcame the differences of our religion, mitigated our color distinctions and rose above our nationalities. THIS MY FRIENDS is truly remarkable and worth cherishing all our lives. A renowned philosopher and novelist once wrote “if you truly want something from the bottom of your heart the whole universe conspires for you to get it”.

So ladies and gentlemen let us Dream FOR THE BETTER UNDERSTANDING FOR A BETTER WORLD and let the whole universe conspire to fulfill our dream”.

Lastly I would like to thank you Ma’am Kimberly King, Soad and other CECF associates. But most importantly I’d like to thank Imam Arafat for giving us this wonderful opportunity to create A LITTLE GLOBAL FAMILY here during this conference. Thank You.

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