The National Youth Summit and Peace Integration Conference was conducted by Ministry of Defense, Pakistan for the integration of youth and getting to know different cultures in Pakistan. Once we were done with all the processes, we packed our bags and started the journey. The three of us, Warda, Nisha and Usman, represented the LUMS Culture Society (LCS) there. We were introduced to other society representatives like IEEE and EMS by our director, Huzaifa, so that we could mingle with them. On October 19, 2018 at 5:30 pm, we gathered as per saying of administration and left for Rawalpindi at 7:00 pm. As soon as we left LUMS, everyone got busy in different activities like cards playing, listening to music, sharing their experiences of LUMS which included mainly the stories of societies and ways to survive at LUMS. One story, by Waqas Haider, caught my eye who narrated how he, as a representative of LUMS in a conference at America, conducted research on water crisis with just 10-year old kids. We reached Bahira service area after passing Sargodha.
We stopped there for a while, had food, relaxed ourselves and started the journey again. We reached Faizabad terminal of Skyways at 12:35 am. We stayed there for some time and had tea which was offered by Mr. Waqas. From there, we were shifted to mini buses to go to Muzaffarabad. Two small buses and one Toyota (HI-ACE) was arranged for us. We resumed our journey from Faizabad at 2:35 am. In the bus where I sat along with two other LCS members, were mostly members of the Dramaline with whom we played ‘Never Have I Ever’ and other fun games. At 7:00 am, we reached our destination. We chose the foTayba Hotel to stay at. Meanwhile, other buses reached there.
Next day, we got up at 9 am, had breakfast and went to University of AJK. On reaching there, we registered and got the cards for attending the conference. Then sessions began. Vice chancellor of AJK University, Hiba Zakai, Justice Jawad from LUMS, Dr. Zia from Islamic International University, Islamabad and faculty member of Karakoram and Butims University addressed the crowd. During the lunch break, Biryani was served, one of the most favorite dishes of Pakistanis. Soon after, a friend of mine paid me a visit with whom I went to Do Meel (where River Neelam and Jhelum meet). He even took me to a place where amazing Kashmiri Chai is served and then dropped me back to the university. There, students of butims were performing their cultural dance. After a nap at the hotel, we went for a tea party to a friend’s house. His whole family whole-heartedly welcomed us. They served us tea, boiled eggs, dry fruit, biscuits, kulcha and bakir khanni. They even invited us for dinner but we declined the offer because of the shortage of time. After that, he and his elder brother took us to daragh, Lllushi bridge (highest bridge in Asia) and supreme court of AJK and came back around 12:20 am. We all were very tired as we roamed round the whole city on foot. Next day, we got up and went to the university in local bus. There, sessions of LPS, IEE, EMS and a talk on water crisis by representatives of four universities were held.
At 3:00 pm, we went to a SOS village and this visit was arranged by LCSS. We only spent half an hour there but, the visit was enjoyable as the location of the SOS was very amazing. It was situated besides the Jhelum River. The time we spent with the orphans was amazing. We played cricket with them. After returning from the SOS village, we got dressed up and attended the cultural night.
Members of LCS reached the university early, to ensure adequate arrangements. Mr. Waqas, from the Department of Art and Design of AJK University helped us make the required arrangements. He brought us wooden sticks for bonfire and helped us in convincing the University to make an exception to their rules, for the allowance of loud music. At the start, the group elected me to host the cultural night. As the night went on, a female from another university took over. The Department of Art and Design had arranged different activities including the walk of the students in Kashmiri cultural dresses, the singing of Kalam (a type of Kashmiri music), Qawwali, and Gilgiti songs and the cultural dance of Kashmir. This cultural night was one of the most loved parts of our visit. After dinner, we went to a football ground where the bonfire took place. Over there, Pashto songs were played on the request of Pashtun students. As more people started coming, we started playing Punjabi, Kashmiri, Gilgiti, Sindhi music too. Each group also performed their unique cultural dance. We packed everything at 11:00 pm nearly and started to head back to the hotel. After this, the group members and students started exploring the city. We went to have lunch and have some tea and returned at 1:26 am. We fell asleep. We got up early in the morning and had breakfast. Then, we left for Pir Chinasi and reached there within two hours. It was an amazing place. We had pakoras and tea there. Afterwards, we went hiking. It was snowing there. After returning from Pir Chinasi, we faced some land sliding but after waiting for an hour, the roads were clear, and the bus was able to pass through. On returning to the hotel, we packed and started the trip to Rawalpindi in the same buses. Two members of CDRS sat with us in the same bus. As soon as we sat in the bus, we started singing songs, playing Antakhswsri and BaetBazi. A member of CDRS started informing the group about his organization which worked for social welfare. Before leaving the Kashmir, we stopped at a restaurant where we took tea. After Rawalpindi, we stopped at Bahira service area but I preferred to sleep. All other members eat meal and took rest at Simply Sufi. I kept on sleeping until we reached LUMS. This journey was the one where I represented LCS and thus it would always remain memorable. I was only a first-year student however I made many friends that were senior to me and learned from their experience during their time at LUMS. The group consisted of Usman, Wardah, Nisha representing LCS Azan, Kashmala and Ifra from IEEE, Ismail from EMS, Khizra, Masooma and Waqas Haider individually from LUMS.
Write up courtesy: Muhamad Usman Zulfiqar, Masooma and Ayesha Shahzad, Members of the Events Department at LUMS Culture Society