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Final Thoughts…

Posted in 2008 Summer Public Service Program by kashmircorps on June 28, 2008

Peace be Upon Everyone,

Over the last few weeks, I have grown very attached to Kashmir and especially Kashmiris. I have not met people with such a congenial way about themselves in my entire life. I want to stay here and help them as much as possible, but I have convinced myself that the best way to help them is by going home and finishing my medical degree. Then, I can return and effect some real change.

Last Sunday, I went to participate in a medical camp. It was quite an experience escorting kids to different physicians and watching them receive treatment. It was very inspiring to see this kind of help coming to the deserving children of the HELP Foundation Orphanage. I even planned to meet up with the organizers to discuss prevention in more detail. It was really exciting, and I felt that I was seeing very positive developments. That night, I worked really hard on making a curriculum about vitamins and minerals for the children at the orphanage to learn because I wanted to make those difficult topics easy for them to understand. I had pictures and even an experiment to show the kids for the lesson. On this past Monday and Tuesday when Anjum and I taught the lessons to the children, I realized something that I had not understood all along. What I realized is that those kids do not really need tutors, they are extremely smart. The 10th graders picked up everything that we taught them without us even showing them the pictures. I would quiz them after I taught them a particular topic, and I was amazed with how quickly they understood because I was speaking in my broken Urdu when I was teaching it to them. One of the topics was water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. I showed them in a glass how oil did not mix with water and compared it to a glass where salt was dissolved in water. Before I even showed them the experiment, they knew exactly what was going to happen, and they even gave me brief reasons why. I had difficulty understanding the concept of hydrophobic nature even two years ago when I was reviewing the topic in review for the MCATs. I was impressed to say the least when I came home Tuesday night.

By Wednesday, the political situation had gotten unstable in Kashmir, and the schools were closed. We have been in our house and only have been allowed to go places on foot. For an American, it is difficult to accept circumstances in which our movement is limited and our busy lifestyles come to a stop. But, since it has happened to me, I finally began to think about what is going on here from the perspective of the orphans and the other students in Kashmir. I began to think about the kids and how the political situation affects their learning. It would be very difficult for anyone to learn when the rhythm of life is constantly interrupted, no matter how talented. What it really made me think about was how I would fare if I were in their situation. How am I different from them? I am different mostly because I grew up in the United States with all the opportunities one can imagine. They, on the other hand, were born in Kashmir. They look like me, they are just as smart as me, they are just as talented as me, and they work harder than me. After coming to the conclusion that I could have just as easily been placed in their shoes, I have become ashamed of myself and all the times that I have passed up opportunities to learn or to do good. I have become ashamed because I know that they would have done better, and I am letting them down by not doing better. I am also happy to have had the chance to think about all of this before I left because I know that I would have gotten caught up in the flow of things back in America. The political situation resulting in us being restricted has been a benefit for me. Just because we move from place to place in America whenever we please does not mean that is how life always is. I really am appreciative of this time I have had here to reflect. I am leaving tomorrow in a rush knowing that if I lived in a situation such as the situation I have seen over the past few days here in Kashmir, I would have given up on education well before the end of high school. This is the main reason why I admire these kids and why I am honored to have worked with them. I definitely plan to return to give help because I could easily be in their shoes, and I know that I would want help. My experience here has truly humbled me, praise be to God, and I am going to go home more motivated than ever to take advantage of every opportunity I have because that is how I can truly honor these children.

Take Care Everyone,

Azam Qureshi

This is Anjum and I teaching the children about hydrophobicity.

This is Anjum and I presenting one of our slideshows.  Yes, yes, I can make a slideshow.

This is a full view of the tenth grade class.


One Response

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  1. Samma said, on June 29, 2008 at 4:10 am

    your post was really touching – thanks for sharing your thoughts and reflections……i almost cried reading over your post

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