Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to Square One

Today, I'm flying back to Bowdoin, where my journey started. My Mom is upset that I'm leaving early and was only home for four days. She wants me to stay and celebrate Eid with the family. I feel a bit guilty.

I'm arriving to campus early to lead a community immersion pre-Orientation. It's the same one I did as a freshman. This pre-O exposes incoming students to Bowdoin and the greater Brunswick community through service. It's a great immersion and introduction to the common good, a pillar of Bowdoin College. I'm excited to welcome the new kids to our wonderful community! This is the kind of stuff I LOVE to do. So yes, while I felt guilty for seeing my Mom briefly, I also felt good for...well, doing good.

Take care, everyone! Thanks for following my blog this summer. It's been an unforgettable adventure.

Ride on!

On Tuesday, my little brother planned a Kings Dominion trip for me. It was really adorable and so thoughtful of him. All my siblings and I spent an entire day -- from the time the doors opened at 10:30 a.m. to the time the gates closed at 8 p.m. -- having a blast! We rode almost every roller coaster there, though my brother sat out on the "scary" ones.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I'm back in USA! I safely arrived at Dulles airport around 3 p.m. on Sunday, August 14th - Pakistan's Independence Day! The trip was exhausting. I was in travel mode for nearly 48 hours.

It took us 3 hours from Pakistan to Bahrain; we stayed in a hotel in Bahrain for 15 hours; flew from Bahrain to London in 8 hours; had a 5-hour stay in London; then flew another 7 hours from London to D.C. Whew!

Feels great to be back in the USA. Although I just read up on the debt ceiling and....ouch!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Coming home

The song "Home" by Chris Daughtry just came up my iTunes....

"I'm staring out into the night,
Trying to hide the pain."

As I continue packing, listening to music, reflecting on my summer - the research I did at Hazara and in Lahore, my internship at Al-Imtiaz Acadmey, my students and their memories, the Imtiazian (and the hours I spent on its layout!), the up's and down's with my family members, the funeral I attended, the smiling faces of my nephews and nieces, the hospitality of Dr. Luke at the Bach Christian Hospital, the witty jokes my cousins made, the heat and sweat during power outages, the long nights Skyping with my mother, and the boring days I spent texting - I am saddened. I am sad to be leaving this place; my students, my house, my home, my family, my country.

"I'm going to the place where love
And feeling good don't ever cost a thing.
And the pain you feel's a different kind of pain"

Before embarking on this summer's journey, I knew what I would be losing if I committed to teaching journalism at AIA. I could have done an internship with some U.S. government department. I could have been a counselor at SJP's 10th anniversary. I could have spent time with my friends in NoVa and enjoyed Java Chip Frapaccino every afternoon. I could have spent time with my only brother and taken him to the theater to see Harry Potter's newest release. I could have served my mother and perhaps even learned some cooking from her. How wonderful it would have been if I could reunite with my old teachers and catch up on their lives. I could have bugged my sisters and started mischievous fights with them. But after this summer's experience ... I am glad I made the right decision to come back to Pakistan.

"I don't regret this life I chose for me."

I learned a lot this summer. More than I could have ever imagined. I grew in ways I did not expect. My summer experiences have made me better, stronger and more confident. I've learned to be patient and flexible; to not let little things get to me; and to always be open-minded and forgiving no matter the circumstance. I've learned to ignore (painful) comments even if they were made by my loved ones. My summer taught me to always have the bigger picture in mind. I've strengthened my abilities of coping with stress, loss and the truth. My students showed me that one can always live in the moment, but without memories, it's as if the moment never happened. I was reminded by summer how good it feels to be selfless.

It's been a long summer and I am grateful for every minute of it. I will forever cherish these memories. But I think it's time to come home now.

"Well I'm going home,
Back to the place where I belong."

Student Work

Check out my students' blog - let them tell you what they've been doing this summer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Celebrating hard work

Tonight was the students awards ceremony. It was a wonderful occasion! I got to make a speech about my program, why journalism is important and how proud I am of my students. It reminded me of Richard Just's speech. Richard Just is one of the directors of the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program (SJP) I did during the summer of 2008. (That program just concluded its 10th anniversary, by the way! Whoo!)

The newspaper, The Imtiazian, looks great! Everyone's hard work has paid off. I am really impressed and proud of all my students. During the program, everyone -- the school principals, Ms. Ayesha, Madam Imtiaz Nawaz (founder of the school), and my students -- thanked me over and over again for coming to Al-Imtiaz Academy and starting their newspaper. I was so humbled for such great honors and good wishes. My father sat in the front row and I could tell by the look in his eyes he was so proud of me. My father is usually shy in expressing his feelings, but today, managed to say a few words after the program was over. "Mariya, you did a great job. I am really proud of you." Hearing this from him meant a lot to me.

After the hour-long program, we served all the guests an Iftaar meal catered from a famous five-star restaurant, Usmania. I got to meet a lot of parents which was wonderful. Saying goodbye to my students was the hardest part. I bid them farewell, not knowing when I would see them again.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I did it!

Great news, everyone! After four all-nighters, I completed all the editing and 16 pages of layout of the first issue of the Imtiazian. It was sent to printers at 7:04 a.m. on Saturday, August 6th. The paper has officially been laid to bed. Though stressful, the beast is over!

Tomorrow is my last day at school. Saying goodbye to my students is going to be hard. I've learned so much about them and have enjoyed their company that it's sad leaving them. Through this internship, I've also learned a lot about myself and what teaching is like. This was a great experience, and I am grateful to Ms. Kathryn Davis for making this opportunity possible for me.

On Wednesday, August 10th, I have planned an awards assembly for my students and their parents. It's an opportunity to recognize their hard work and share their accomplishment with their family and friends. I'm looking forward to the event! August 10th is also the publication date. Once it is distributed, I'll be sure to post a copy on here so you all can get a sneak peak! :)