The Nation, Lahore

7 Rabi-ul-Awwal, 1419 - Thursday, July 2 , 1998, Lahore Pakistan  


Summer in Seattle

Dr Rana Jawad Asghar

Back in Seattle, I had to make many arrangements for my travel. I had to book my flight to Pakistan. I decided to fly by PIA even though my University travel office had already booked me on another International carrier. But one of my Pakistani travel agents showed me a fax from PIA which asked for support in case of these sanctions. "Fly by your national carrier so that the foreign exchange would be used by your country", he told and I obviously agreed even though the PIA ticket was expensive. Now I had to make other arrangements.

June in Seattle (Washington state) is very busy because it is also the start of summer. Seattle has very few sunny days. So people arrange all outdoor activities in these few months. As June is also end of the academic year in the University so all the graduation parties also take place in these days.

In these summer days, all outdoor activities are in full swing. The famous street fair of Seattle, which is organised every year on the University Avenue, attracts hundreds of businesses and thousands of shoppers for two days. There are many different ethnic food shops, different bands playing and acrobats performing. The good part is that it is a free event and merchandise which is sold here is not expensive at all.

As Seattle is a city of North West so it has its share of lakes and beautiful jogging tracks which pass through beautiful scenery. On any sunny day, University tennis courts are always crowded quite early. The other best activity on a sunny day is to go for canoeing. University offers excellent services at Union Bay in lake Washington. I enjoyed these few days by these outdoor activities.

Pakistan Student Association at University of Washington arranged a lunch with the cooperation of FIUTS (International Students Organisation). This was the second time that PSA arranged this lunch. This time many of PSA members participated very actively in its preparation. We invited President of the University (Chancellor) Dr McCormick. He is quite a busy person but he agreed to visit us for few moments. PSA members, Gul Younas, Nosheen, Shirin, Mahwish, Sarah Rizvi, Qasim Zuhair, Umar Cheema, Tariq Zuhair, Irfan Qureshi, Khalid, Asif, Kashif and others prepared lot of food. Nearly three hundred students visited our stall where apart from food we had lot of info about Pakistan and also a video was played about Pakistan with some Pakistani songs. The good thing about all this was that PSA arranged everything by its own means and all the food for three hundred students was arranged by its handful members. On the contrary, the Indian Student Association like always has the active support of other Indian Association of local community.

A month ago, PSA was also invited to a local school to make a presentation about Pakistan. To increase students interest, I offered three prizes for best projects about Pakistan. I went there with my fellow student Gul Younas and was impressed by the standard of children work on their projects about Pakistan. We showed them some documentaries and answered some of their questions about Pakistan.

Dr Hilal also arranged a big party for the local community. Dr Hilal is a very nice and a very good reputed dentist in the Seattle. His, very young, seven or eight years old daughter, Mahwish, was diagnosed of cancer nearly two years ago. The last two years were a real test for the whole family. By the grace of God, Mahwish was declared cured, and it was a shukrana party. But Dr Hilal also invited PSA to attend the party. I had earlier complained that local Pakistani community in Seattle, though very much settled and well-off, does not take interest in Pakistani students who are at the University of Washington. Even though the members of Pakistani students is very small there (less than seven), they never receive any invitations from local community even on Eid days. While other communities are very much linked with their students at different educational institutions. Dr Hilal arranged excellent food and though the number of guests was quite high, everything was planned perfectly.

Then there were parties of our own different departments at the University of Washington, where you are required to go as most of the faculty and students do turn up for these parties. Now with all these activities going on, had to finish my project for this quarter and then make preparations for Pakistan which was not an easy task.

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