Thursday, October 28, 2010

An interaction with Editor, American Libraries

As Lincoln Corner Karachi Coordinator, I had a welcome meeting with Mr. Leonard Kniffel, Editor ALA American Libraries Magazine. To welcome Mr. Kniffel to Karachi, and discussed different issues and scenarios in Pakistani Libraries and Librarians, I was accompanied by Chief Librarian, Institute of Business Administration IBA Library, Director Sindh, Pakistan Library Automation Group and AIRC Director.

Mr. Muhammad Guffran, Ex-AIRC personnel & chief librarian, IBA Karachi briefed Mr. Kniffel how academic libraries are student focused and working with innovation in library services.

Mr. Nooruddin Marchant, Director for Sindh, Pakistan Library Automation Group PAKLAG, shared how individuals are working to promote technology in libraries.

Ms. Shazia ali, AIRC Director, told Mr. Kniffel how she has prepared an interactive schedule of programs with different librarians & professionals.

On my end, I shared with Mr. Kniffel, about my initiatives at Lincoln Corner, and its marketing as a model American Library here in Karachi and how we remain successful to win the audience in our programs in this digital age.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A gateway to friendship

It was July 14, 2009 and I was visiting American Library Associations’ annual conference in Chicago, representing my country Pakistan on this international event as a state guest. As I was passing through different stalls at the convention center, a stall attracted me with its simplicity and calmness, which was hard to find anywhere else in this mega event and that was SCOMM stall.

I curiously watched what is going on at this stall, I saw two men just sitting in front of a small electronic device like digital notepads. I then surprise to find that this unique machine is known as UBIDUO and the stall was set up to market this product.

On my turn, I started my communication through this machine with one of the rep., our chat was displayed on both ends and we started our discussion, you would not believe it, this machine enabled me to understand a person with disability and performed as a GATEWAY, without learning any special sign language.

Well, to communicate with any person with disability, it is important that you must learn the way to interact with him/her through a special language, and although there is a significant difference within these special languages designed for each continent, they have their own special signs to convey the message to the communicators. But this UBIxxx turned as a major breakthrough to this limitation, a face to face communicator which enable us to use standard English as a medium of communication between the person with disability and the rest of the world, the only thing he/she has to do is, just become familiar with the keyboard, and there it goes.

Well back to my story, I had an ultimate communication experience as promised with a very healthy conversation with plans to market this product here in Pakistan besides knowing these guys well. They became my friends and you can see how happy we all are, in this picture.

And that all was just because of this incredible UBIDUO, a gateway to friendship

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Democracy for Kids @ LC Karachi

On International Day of Democracy, The coordinator briefed the children about LCK-resources & activities. He shared the web presentation with kids, highlighting the main ingredients that makes democracy work, facts of congress like early congress, dealing with diversity, passing laws, citizen participation, Legislators & their duties etc. The children were brainstormed about the role of individuals, representatives, and how to advocate for their rights.

An interesting comparative part was the house mouse vs senate mouse presentation with a look on an imaginary society of mice settles differences in the legislative branch of its Rodent Republic. Children were very much amused with this part of the presentation. Then these kids learn how to make a difference in society with their active participation. They also learned about the three levels of government and the type of issues these levels deal with. The students were briefed about the impact of government on their life through a segment: Government affect my life.

Another interesting part of the program was a skype conference live from Turkey with Mr. Robert Bixler, Ex-Director, Community Development in United States, who shared how a layman US citizen enjoys the democracy in United States. The children were very happy with this interaction and engaged in an interactive discussion on democracy, Children with leadership skills have been selected to participate in a role play for public advocacy

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Thanks to IVLP program

As a Lincoln Corner Coordinator, I in capacity with International Visitor Leadership Program IVLP Alumni, Celebrated MLK Service Day by Volunteering my expertise as a Librarian in VM Public School library & mentored library periods of different secondary & higher secondary classes, to provide them an improved approach to access the library & its resources by sharing with them, how children use libraries in the USA.

Every day, in each 30 minutes period with every class, I assessed the static library access & studies by the children; then visited each group in the session and questioned them individually what they are doing & how they access the library and inquired the library resources. I also shared some tips on how they can improve their library access by adapting focused studies & assignments and told them how libraries work in an interactive mode in United States. To bring them into an interactive mode, I also assigned them some queries & encouraged them to explore their library for resources to find answers.

The purpose of this activity with more than 150 students was to benefit these children with individual level mentoring service and previously static library became more interactive with my firsthand experience of US libraries. I also shared with them some background information on MLK Day & volunteer services in America and encouraged them to develop some group activities to re-organize their school library. THANKS TO IVLP program

Friday, October 16, 2009

My IVLP trip: A journey from illusions to realities

America is a Christian state, which has a set behavior towards Muslims; they treat Muslims with more scrutinized procedures and security barriers; If you are beared and have a Muslim demography and more over if you have a Green Passport, you will be kept in separate lines, gone through intensive security and harsh questioning at the ports of entries in the United States.

These all were the common illusions from my colleagues and friends, accompanied me upon my departure to the United States, perhaps it was my first ever international trip, so I did not have any real idea about these all insecurities I mentioned above.

From our own Pakistani Customs & FIA counters to the Dulles Airport, Washington DC; throughout my trip & transits at Dubai & Heathrow Airport in United Kingdom, I did not found any discrimination on the basis of my demography & identity and it occurred to me that all the above mentioned reservations were only the words of mouth and misunderstandings people use to create on the basis of their own personal experiences, which most of the times caused due to their own incompatibilities and short comings towards the procedures.

I found also find it out, that it may be due to their own impatience because most of us cannot tolerate queues, we considered to be disgraced or feel ourselves discriminated if we have to wait in a queue.

Another illusion of our countryman is this, American does not like Muslims or any Alien on their land; well it was also an obligation people made by their own and seem to be a poor analysis of a friendly society. Some people try to promote a negative image of western world in general, which most of the time remains ready to cater diversity especially in case of the United States.

How friendly and kind an average American is? This is not the way to look at the real American society, How they treat a stranger is the real question that can answer a lot about the real American values and society. I realize this when nobody ever asked me who am I? where I am from? Why I am here? Which religion I do belong? What is my legal status etc. instead they just interacted with me so well and as on an equal basis that I felt myself proud on my visit to United States and that also gave a real picture of the American society towards visitors especially a Muslim.

It is true that different states in the US has different moods and anyone should understand the variations in daily life interactions with locales. Just for an example if you greet a passing by or say a Hello to anyone in Washington DC or Chicago, they will warmly reply to you but if you do the same in NYC or Los Angeles, may be it will not give you the same response; but its due to the different circumstances within the different states. But this does not means that Americans in general are not warm welcoming and friendly. Can you imagine people would like to drive miles to take you to your exact destination if you ask for the directions only, even they don’t know you. If they found you lost, they themselves volunteer their help, you never need to ask.

An average American normally interacts with you with a friendly gestures of a Hello! Hi! And how do you do? And then in a few minutes you would not believe it, you will feel yourself like his lost friend. It is my personal observation that these are our own insecurities that keep a distance between ourselves and Americans and this is all because of the misunderstandings which resulted in Illusions. The real problem, I guess, is that we even really don’t know how Americans are? And on the other hand they also don’t know us, they don’t know not all Muslims are meant to be their enemy, they don’t know what really Islam stands for? And how Muslims differentiate their religion, social values with the rest of the world and on what grounds? In a general statement nobody knows the exact face of each other; and this is all because of the lack of communication.

Freedom of faith, freedom of expression, respect of individual rights, kindness, friendliness and warm welcomes, these were the realities of the American society I have experienced throughout the United States.

As for my personal experiences, I would like share a few observations in future. Fortunately my trip was in two parts, one was my special status as a State’s guest on IVLP program and the other was my status of a general visitor on my own. Luckily I did not found much difference in both statuses.

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 4th, A historical day in my life

July 4th, is considered to be a historical day in the life of millions of Americans but this July 4th turned as a unique life learning experience in my life. This IVLP program provided us the opportunity to experience the patriotism of a nation, who use to have love for values, acknowledges services of their heroes and reiterates its diversity all the times.

On 4th of July we were in Washington DC, and we were granted previliges to explore the city by our own, I was accompanied by Malicca & Eman to femiliarize ourselves to the roads & sight seening placing in Washington. We took 17th street and went strait to President house, which was crowded by tourists & patroitic peoples to enjoy the independance day.

We were fortunate to experience the Smithsonian Folklife festival, which highlighted the folk culture across the United States and it was really a wonderful experience to listen the festive songs & observing the diversity of American Nation & immigrants.

You would not believe, we were feeling ourselves as a part of that community by enjoying glow of Americans and immigrants who were all despered to express their love to this country which provided them such a rich diversity that eliminated the difference between them.

We took some light festive food and kept our journy for quest of American behaviour to their independance till to the night at fire works at the mall.
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