Closely Linked To Pakistan

Writing letters and sending them to pen-pals in distant lands? Young people in the digitised society are less likely to resort to this rather outdated practice, if at all. Instead, teenagers use chat portals and video calls to stay in touch over long distances.

Our Pakistani partner school from Lahore is over 5500 kilometres away, but the curiosity to learn more about each other and to exchange ideas can always clearly be felt during the Skype video chats that have been held in the s6 Dutch class of the Secondary School since the 18th September 2017. They are part of the Outreach Programme, which aims to bring people together on a local, European and global level, and to enable them to get a feel for each other's everyday life.

Often only the negative facts are known about Pakistan: attacks, terrorism, poverty, and women without rights. However, the fact that young people especially in the big cities yearn for a normal, peaceful life and are mostly able to do so, is often overlooked. This is the reason why prior to the Skype sessions, an interactive Pakistan presentation is held in the classrooms, providing students with interesting details about the country's living conditions, politics, education, culture, food and traditions.

For the first Skype session the topic "family" was discussed. In short presentations, the students introduced themselves individually, described in which family constellation they lived, what family means to them, and what roles the members played in their own families. The fact that the family is a source of emotional security and support was something both our students and their Pakistani "schoolmates" agreed on. However, there were differences in the way the families lived together. While it is common in our cultural hemisphere to grow up in "nuclear families", Pakistani teenagers often live in so-called "joint family systems", in which several generations live under one roof.

During the second Skype session, a small group of Pakistani students told us about their educational campaign on how handwashing protects from transmitting infectious diseases. This hands-on and playful campaign was conducted at the Lahore-based TAC (Teach A Child) school, which is attended by low-income families who often lack money for toiletries. The group of dedicated young "educators" told our students that they first asked the children to stain their hands with mud and then "wash" it off properly. A general knowledge quiz and a nursery rhyme competition got the children in a cheerful mood. Finally, they were given goodie bags with sweets and soap.

In Pakistan, it is not a matter of course that the internet connection will remain stable for 45 minutes. But despite technical disruptions, this Pakistan project creates virtual opportunities for encounters and brings young people from different continents together. To have a "chat" in real time with Pakistani teenagers is an exciting and illustrative lesson in the age of digital communication!

The Lahore Grammar School (LGS) is a private school in the North-West of Pakistan, closely located at the Indian border. Similar to the European School Munich, the LGS has around 2000 students, offering nursery to primary to secondary education.

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