“In August 2008, I returned to Pakistan to secure my U.S. work visa,” writes Talha Khan (Red Cross Nordic UWC, Macalester ’08). “I ended up waiting eight months. My experience reminded me of how broken our world really is, and how systemic discrimination is for those who are born in regions that have fallen out of favor with the powers that be. But beyond my immediate frustrations, those eight months in Pakistan were a really humbling experience.
“A brutal and bloody conflict is threatening to unravel my country. Yet I found hope in the resilience shown by the millions who struggle to live with some semblance of normalcy despite a growing feeling of entrenchment, both against home-born extremists and against the demands of the Coalition forces. I found people at once confused and overwhelmed by the deteriorating situation, and desperately searching for answers within; but I also found a people who resolve to fight for their space of toleration and mutual existence. Behind the figures of deaths due to suicide bombings or drone attacks, I found human beings, dreams shattered, families broken and hopes unfulfilled.
“Now I am working in Los Angeles, a universe so distant from the other reality I have left behind (and that my family continues to live through). Even in the relative calm of L.A., I am quite aware of all that I have left behind in Pakistan. And I cannot divorce myself from the country, its people and, most importantly, my family.”