After a heightened interest at the chance to fulfill her love of travel, many application forms, exams, an interview process and a full day of a flight, Kiran Naz left her home of Karachi,Pakistan to come to the community of Douglassville. Naz applied with The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study (YES) Program through her school in Karachi, and came to the United States on August 28, 2012. There are 108 students from Pakistan on scholarship in the United States with the YES program.
“ when I came here to the Washington D.C. airport,” Naz remembered, “They were talking so fast but now it’s so weird that I can get used to it and can understand.”
She was living with a welcome host family in West Chester before coming to stay with her permanent host family in Douglassville. She started school in the middle of December at Daniel Boone High School, where Kiran is a junior.
“It’s like totally different; in my school in Pakistan, we wear uniform, and there’s one class where we stay in thewhole day,” Naz said. There are many differences between her home country and the States. “Girls go to class together and boys go to class together. In my new school, where I completed until 10th grade, the boys and girls were on different floors. On field trip or functions we all go together, but have different times for assembly and lunch,” she said.
The school day in Pakistan is much shorter than school in America. Naz says her day used to start at 7 a.m., and starts off with their National anthem, prayers, and some exercise in the beginning of the school day. The school day only lasts until 1:30 p.m. After lunch in Pakistan, it is common to take a nap. “Here, I sleep a lot,” she said.
“Culture and education are the two biggest differences, we don’t have as much choice of subjects until tenth grade,” Naz said. School goes up to grade 13 in Pakistan, but after tenth grade, it is referred to as college. “In Pakistan, you don’t have to go to school,” Naz explained.
The school offers an hour of sports once a week, where they often play throwball. “They don’t play it here,” she said.
Naz stays in touch with her friends from Pakistan through Facebook. She said her friends thought she would be homesick but see how much fun she is having exploring in a new country. “From my school, I’m the only one selected ” she said, her classmates are anxious to hear about her experience.
Douglassville is quite a change for the 17-year-old. “Where I live in Pakistan, it’s more like a city. I have never seen snow before or the fall season. It’s totally different,” Naz said, “We don’thave basements. My house is made of cement and bricks.”
The weather here in Pennsylvania is also something that has taken Naz some getting used to. In Pakistan, she explained that their “winter” season starts in the middle of November and ends at the end of January. “I like snow but not when it’s really, really cold,” she said, “where I live, it’s really hot. In my house we don’t even have heaters because it’s not that cold.”
With the snowy winter months, Naz took full advantage of the weather. She has gone snow tubing, ice skating, sledding and made a snowman, but doesn’t like getting ready with layers upon layers. “It’s a lot of work.”
As a Muslim country, Pakistan women wear long shirts and trousers. Naz explained that her mother and sister wear scarves, but that she doesn’t. “It depends on how old you are,” Naz said, “My mom and sister like to wear a scarf and burka.” Naz said the majority of women wear scarves but wearing burka is not mandatory. “If you’re going out, you have to have your head covered.”
Most of the families in Pakistan have a joint family system, living with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousin. At home, Naz lives with her grandparents, uncle, aunt, their three daughters, son and her three siblings. There are also arraigned marriage systems where the family finds someone for their child to marry, but Naz explained that if you don’t like the person your family chose, your parents aren’t going to force you. Arraigned marriages depend on the family, some families value education and finishing studies before getting married. In Pakistan, dating is not allowed. Naz is taking full advantage of being in the United States, and has a date to prom.
Another big difference between the countries is that people in Pakistan do not have house pets as we do here. “Some people have cows and sheep as animals for their farms. House pets are not typical,” Naz said, “Few people have dogs as a pet, some have cats.” Naz said it’s a big change getting used to having cats as pets. She does have one aunt who has cats but that “most other people think why do you have a cat as a pet?”
As far as wildlife, Naz said Pakistan does have deer, but hunting of deer is not allowed.
Naz only has two months left of her travel to America, leaving the county at the end of the school year in June. She hopes that she will be able to come back to go to college to study accounting as she is enjoying her time in Douglassville.