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A Backward Move

By Aaisha Minhas

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When you think about the word moving, it more or less revolves around the idea of an improvement of the visuals and sights around you. The ideal thought of moving which comes to my mind is moving from a less popular or less diverse town to a more populated and more resourceful city. In my case, you could say I went backwards.

As a South Asian Muslim girl, growing up in the city of Toronto, life was full of all sorts of amusement. It was culturally and racially a very pleasant place to live. Moreover, learning about the people around me was always a benefit. As a child, I felt incredibly special when I would be given the excuse to miss a test or an assignment just because I had religious or cultural commitments that I needed to attend. My school was very diverse as well. People of all religions and all racial backgrounds would blend in a beautiful mix and we wouldn’t mind each other’s differences because we knew that it made us all unique in our own ways.

Fast forward to middle school, my parents thought it would bring a new perspective in life for our entire family to move to Pakistan. Here’s where my idea of moving backwards came in. Putting my family’s perspective in mind, they moved from Pakistan to Canada in the hope to gain more resources to lead a safer and more successful life. Thinking about the very “good” reputation of how it’s very safe for people of certain communities to live there, South Asia isn’t the safest place to live for many people and to gain security. Therefore, they take that leap to the western world.

My parents thought of all the positives to moving but in the end, left it all up to me to take the final decision. I thought it would be a great short cut to move and have a fresh start so I wouldn’t have to stress about how I’m going to get into a good high school with the grades I had. So guess what? I agreed to the idea of moving to a whole new country.

Once I did move, I slowly but gradually got used to things and started to open up to my surroundings. I soon realized that it didn’t depend on how far away from the previous home you moved, it would naturally be a bit difficult at first to fit in and would take an open mind to accept the changes around me. As stubborn as I was, the ignorance, being less informed and cultural stereotypes played an important role in feeding my mind with negative and judgmental views. News about terrorists and violence would be everywhere along with Pakistan being a third world country, it’s looked at as a very backwards and dangerous place.

However in reality it’s scenically a beautiful place that is visually pleasing. Especially Islamabad, the city I moved to, is well kept with a variety of species of trees along with lush greenery everywhere. After a light shower, the fog and dust in the atmosphere washes off and you can see the large structures of the mountains from a far distance.

This got me thinking about my parents’ experience. They left their comfortable lifestyles, family and surroundings just so they could bring an improvement in the lives of the next generation. It was a plus to have knowledge of my culture and to participate in such events, but for my parents, they had an entire cultural barrier that they had to get across . Not only that but financially it isn’t the easiest to move to a new country, start from zero and constantly be afraid of an uncertain future. These struggles along with many more such as employment opportunities, risk of achievement and psychological distress circled my mind and I knew that it was just plain selfish to think that I should be praised and called out for being able to adjust in a new country.

Putting into perspective, I would say that my parents and many other immigrant parents may have thought that moving from their countries to the western side was a failure to move. Because when you think about it, what good is there when you don’t know anything about where you live and are completely clueless every way you look? In conclusion, I would say that my experience in moving has brought success more than failure, due to not only gaining a new viewpoint to life but also gaining a sense of wisdom and compassion. Instead of going backwards, I went forward and opened my mind to every point of view.

Although, knowing that topics such as discrimination, intolerance of one another, rape, sexual harassment and violence are in the news almost everyday, I think that maybe the western world was much safer. Was my satisfaction temporary? Moreover, will my mind go back to it’s initial judgement of Pakistan?

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