Greetings reader, my story begins with bumpy ride of admission process in NUML Islamabad. With the completion of intermediate, I was in search of an institute which can offer me my dream program, the Software Engineering. Several technical hurdles occurred due to my visual impairment. At the end with constant efforts, I was accepted in Engineering Department on the basis of my achievements in IT sector. Within 2 months of studying there, I was intimated that due to the policies of regulatory bodies, I cannot continue in Software Engineering program. Smash!
Representation of Pakistan in International IT Competition, 4 years of work experience, several blog article publications, appearance as guest on Radio Pakistan, days and nights in front of computer screen gaining skills, 10 years of life, dream of countless nights. “Shatter” echoed in my ears, in my mind. With the grace of Almighty, I stood firm. As Allah says in His Glorious Book:
“And ALLAH Too Plans; But The Best of Planners is ALLAH.” (Quran: 8, Al-Anfal, Worse 30)
At that point of middle of semester, no department would accept me. With the infinite support of my companions who stood by my side from the days before beginning the actual admission process, I got prepared so well within two days. “If you can do this, my full support is with you”, the evaluator remarked with a big smile. I received unimaginable warm welcome in the Department of Area Studies. The same department I once considered scopeless. Teacher Sun who was teaching us Chinese Language hesitantly inquired about the newly arrived student. With my greeting and exchange of dialogue about my name, age and other introductory items in pure Chinese, her expression turned over. “You are already better than 50% of my class!” she excitedly showed her satisfaction.
The Teachers who were aware of me through my performance on the International White cane Safety day event in the department were happy to have me among their students. That event too is a symbol of open and cooperative culture of this department as it was a complete students-led event full of multi-lingual performances of speeches, presentations, poetry, singing, drama, and even dance. My same companions were the pioneers in organizing that event. I was invited as a speaker and delivered a presentation on the topic “How Visually Challenged Can Use Technology”. I hope many more such ventures from the students launch in future.
I am all about tech when it comes to my skills and experience. But even then Engineering department couldn’t utilize my abilities. This department however, gave me confidence to serve in my full capacity beside being the part of Political Science sector. Within first week of my joining, I upgraded the manual data collection process for official Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) test to a completely digitize solution reducing the chances of errors and workload from Class Representatives and Department Coordinator.
My other contributions for digitization in the operations of the department include online data collection forms on various occasions, tech-support to teachers and students during online classes and exams in Covid times, Advising to department with regards to tools and mechanism for online classes, assignments and exam handling and some exclusive initiatives for my class. I am always ready to contribute more whatever in my capacity to make our department the most modern and technically equip department in the university.
Along with academic prosperity, this department has proved to be lucky in my non-academic activities as well. In 2019, I once again got the chance to represent Pakistan on the international stage at Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities held in Busan Korea. By the grace of Allah Almighty I received Gold Medal and Best Challenger award in visual disability category by Chairperson Rehabilitation International. In the same year, I with my team invited as speakers in Drupal Camp Lahore (a web developers conference) where we presented “Accessibility in Drupal Content Management Framework” and received the most rocking performance certificate by Chief Executive Officer Drupak. With the recommendation of one of my Chinese teachers, I joined Islamabad Hub of Global Shapers Community (an initiative of World Economic Forum) adding yet another chapter in my volunteerism journey.
The stories, experiences, memories and moments attached with the Department of Area Studies are in such a large amount that trying to cover them all will require to pen down an entire book. Considering this a short success story of mine, I am moving towards the closing remarks. This department is such a joyful addition to my trip on Earth. Compassionate leadership, cooperative staff, passionate teachers, conducive environment, dynamic courses, International Exposure, modern classrooms and of course, culturally colorful fellows are some of the key features of this department. Being a humble representative, I will utilize all my abilities in shaping up its future. May the Department of Area Studies with concentration on China becomes the perfect face of Pakistani youth in front of people of China and the world beyond.