turn up the volume of change

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I teach a seminar course called Design Awareness to the Foundation Year. Its basically a re-viewing of the world as it exists around us but with a design perspective. We talk about how and why a designer’s vision is different, and what purpose it serves in the grander sceheme of the universal mish mash. Recently, all the classes have had this tone of defeat to them- a lot of my students, driven to cynicism and despair by the current state of affairs in the country don’t believe that we, the middle-classers count on any level- not even in being heard. Perhaps they are right, perhaps I am too optimistic for my own good. Perhaps I am right, and they are missing the blind faith factor. Perhaps we both are both right and wrong, and the correct combination of both reality and denial is what will drag us out of this apathy of not knowing what to do.

So we, the alumni, decided to initiate an exercise in positivity and some kind of shift in thinking with the entire Foundation Year.  After making them listen to some of the great morale boosting songs ( Hum Zinda Qaum Hain, Khayal Rakhna, Yeh Watan Tumhara Hai, Mera Inaam Pakistan, Laga Reh, Dil Dil Pakistan) with their eyes closed to focus on the lyrics, we divided them into 4 groups. We asked great sports (and even better musicians) like OBA, Yasir Q, Ali A (from ADP) and Maaz M (from Kaavish) to lead each group and gave them an hour to come up with a song complete with lyrics and a message that would help put their voice- of anger, frustration, hope, change- out there. Sometimes, the first step is in putting the words out there. What followed was an hour of brainstorming, lyrics, beats, impromptu renditions and makeshift instruments and a lot of very contagious energy. The performances were brilliant, the ideas amazing- and the atmosphere buzzing.

Perhaps this 2 hour exercise didn’t result in much change; I mean the Taliban didn’t suddenly disappear, nothing really became better in the long run and the issues pretty much stayed put, status quo, but the 100 students who came in mentally weary and tired and dispirited, walked out with a skip in their step, with strong words in the mouths and some fighting spirit in their minds and hearts. And maybe for 2 hours on a hot Saturday morning, even this little bit was enough.

pics by ZH

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7 thoughts on “turn up the volume of change

  1. Every little bit helps. And it’s little things like this that really make a difference. I may come back and teach after all. Because a part of me thinks this may just be the most productive way I can give back to Pakistan.

  2. you know i was thinking exactly that the other day.
    we ARE doing our part in the whole “dont just talk do something” battle.
    this is the second batch we’ve taken on a positive journey(last year with the I own Pakistan)… and the kids do walk out of that class a bit stronger, more positive and less defeated.

    🙂

  3. nice! just reading abt it got me all excited.
    i’m sure the drive that they CAN make a change -however big/small it may be- will forever stay with them long after their graduation.. thanks to this experience.

    i think its so so important to have these thoughts and beliefs in students heads from the freshman year. the long term effects are worth it.

  4. yes i think this is where we , the cursed nobodies of the country can do something- the education sector. somewhere the change will begin 🙂 even if its in the way you feel. and honestly its at the end of an interactive session when you are depleted in having given energy that you are at the high of having actually shifted things a smidgen in the universe. I truly truly believe that. 🙂

  5. I was lucky enough to go through ‘turn up the volume of change’. It made my day made my moment, made me smile made me all more positive again:). It was an amazing initiative and must be expanded on a bigger level. And yes this is an effort, first step towards some kind of resistance. Historically, in any society, it’s the middle class that has showed resistance and eventually brought change. A humble suggestion would be to try involving more people for future gatherings. Our poor masses need more exposure, more awareness and must be explained, exposed to all these healthy debates, arguments, scenarios in the most simplistic manner. If 100 students can conveniently come and participate, they can also bring their servants maids sweepers drivers cooks gardeners washers guards basically everyone. Same applies to you lot as well. More than us the educated lot, the above mentioned categories need more exposure, positive awareness and more importantly hope. It may sound ridiculous perhaps amusing to some but it can work, it will work. The lower class is big in number with their communities spread all over the country and one enlightened soul can always go back and convey everything to his/her family, community, braadry whatever’s there and in the process perhaps influence few more. In our normal routine, these deprived ones never get to be a part of our discussions and remain unaware, in other words Jahil as we fondly use this term. Look at it this way, politicians, traditionally, have preferred targeting this lot; why because they are easy to manipulate influence and can be moulded into any direction. If that bunch of thugs with most corrupt mentalities can fool the masses again and again; play with their psyche; exploit their ignorance; use it to their best advantage; how come you the educated honest bunch of patriots cannot? The only difference lies with the approach. They hit on masses, give them hope and get their backing; we on the other hand are confined to the ones like us. Not that we are mean or arrogant, I suppose it has simply never occurred to most of us the utility of the poor class. We have happily left this job to our policy makers. I am not asking or expecting you me or our social circle to play politician’s role just demanding our own individual contribution for educating them for them to recognize their own right, for them to distinguish between good and evil and play significant role just like any of us. All this can be accomplished by involving them in all platforms. It can be a great beginning. All great movements have started from small corners, initially considered purely fun exercise, gradually gained momentum and eventually brought revolutions. You were right, the exercise didn’t bring in any change, Taliban did not disappear but 100 young souls went back more enlightened more thoughtful knowing they would not surrender without fighting. Arrange more venues bigger venues if you can, invite the intellectuals, generate debates, today it’s 100, tomorrow it can be 1000, bring the ones on board we have so conveniently ignored all these years and we will pay our debt to Pakistan.
    It is a commendable effort and only requires bigger magnitude.
    For those JAHANMMI mullahs, I will quote William Wallace
    “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!

  6. Hi,

    I am writing an article on the humanitarian crisis in Pakistan for the Huffington Post. I have few questions. Do you have an email so that i can reach you? Thanks

  7. Hi,

    I am writing an article on the current humanitarian crisis in Pakistan for Huffington post.Since you are based in Karachi,i would like to ask you few questions. Can you please forward me your email at sarikamona1@gmail.com. You can read my previous article –http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mona-sarika/pakistani-bloggers-unite_b_209123.html

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