Photo Courtesy: Saim Saeed
“As a very rare Pakistani student studying in India, my UWC experience was perhaps unique in a way that others’ was not. I was regularly harassed by Indian bureaucracy and policemen, and made to feel like a convict wherever I went, which was limited by the travel restrictions exclusively placed on me and the other Pakistani who was there. This unfortunate backdrop was in surreal contrast to my life on campus, where my nationality was cherished, appreciated and engaged with. UWC has been instrumental in changing my personal and professional priorities. It gave me the lens through which to look at the India-Pakistan conflict, the tools to fix it, the experience to live it in a way few have, and most importantly, my UWC experience compelled me to care. After studying in the United States, I became a journalist back in Pakistan, writing about and reporting on cross-border issues, and on South Asia at large. I also returned to India to intern at an investigative magazine in New Delhi.
Of course it hasn’t been easy. People in Pakistan doubt my allegiance; many Indians see me as a spy. I am a minority in both India and Pakistan for suggesting peace while most are comfortable that Pakistani and Indian soldiers kill each other every day. Many hope that student exchanges, like mine, are eradicated completely. The environment for journalistic work is also dangerous, especially in Pakistan, and the daily body counts from political violence frequently undermine the value of the work I do.
But it is in the face of this adversity that the most important thing I learnt from my UWC experience comes in handy: the need to fight it.”
Saim Saeed (Pakistan)
Class of 2009