Pakistani students to host cultural understanding event

Andrew Henderson

WKU is home to many international students who represent countries from all over the world— China, Brazil and Saudi Arabia just to name a few. A group of Pakistani students are trying to bring together all nationalities for an event Friday, to address misconceptions and foster dialogue. 

Ayaz Sadal is a graduate student from Pakistan and the vice president of the Pakistani Student Association. He played a key role in founding the group last year. Sadal said he was amongst the first of the Pakistani students to come to WKU, and the numbers have been increasing, leading to the need for a way to connect with themselves and others. 

“The main idea was to connect Pakistani students with American students over here,” he said. 

In order to better connect these groups of students the group will be holding their Pakistan Day event on March 27. Sadal elaborated on the significance of what Pakistan Day is saying. It is a holiday celebrated in Pakistan on March 23 and represents the creation of independent states for Muslims in British India. 

“This day is just for Pakistan, but we want to be for everyone,” Sadal said.

Pakistan Day will include keynote speakers from the student organization and from Pakistani members of the community. It will consist of a formal presentation and a meal, and participants are encouraged to stay after to ask questions. 

Graduate student, native of Pakistan and president of Pakistani Student Association, Abdul Samad will be one of the speakers. 

“To learn about the culture, the food we eat, give them something they don’t know about Pakistan,” Samad said. 

Sadal said a prominent speaker the event will have is Shahbaz Munawar who was the first Pakistani student to graduate from WKU to earn a doctorate . He said members of the Pakistani community are to be featured and younger students as well. Sadal also said there will be a skit portraying American stereotypes for Pakistanis and vice versa. 

“These are the stereotypes—these are not the things one should be looking forward to,” he said. 

Breaking down the stereotypes Americans have toward Pakistanis and Pakistanis have toward Americans is one of the key messages Sadal and Samad want to emphasize with Pakistan Day. 

“The message would be better perception of Pakistan. What people are unable to see on T.V. news,” Samad said.

Rafey Wahlah, Pakistani sophomore and Pakistani Student Association executive committee member, shares these same thoughts. He said to have American students should come see about Pakistan and their culture in order to clear misconceptions is a vital part of Pakistan Day. Clearing up misconceptions, however, isn’t the only important thing for Wahlah. 

“Have more students having interactions with one another,” Wahlah said. 

While the event is geared more toward having American students learn about Pakistan, Sadal said that he wants all international students to be involved. He wants students to know about other countries, not just Pakistan, and learn about different cultures. 

“Give both ends, the American end and the Pakistani end or any other end, to have the kind of platform to be in one room and eat, talk, get to know each other, ask questions… so they can build up a relationship,” Sadal said. 

Pakistan Day will be at the Faculty House beginning at 6 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m.