Pakistani student invites others to her culture

International student Umay Salma brought the culture of Pakistan to Michigan in her presentation at an International Student Club meeting.

At 10 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, Salma filled a Curtiss Hall classroom with Pakistani clothes, accessories, music and food.

“Every meeting we usually have a country presentation to talk about … different cultures, food, religion, holidays … that sort of thing, in order to have people know more about the different cultures and countries that we come from,” International Student Club President Emily Phillips said. “As internationals, we all have so many different varieties of home countries and beliefs and customs, and it shows that we’re all different, but we’re all the same.”

The Valley Vanguard

Courtesy photo | Shahmatul Shihab

Umay Salma, an electrical engineering junior from Pakistan, gives a presentation about her native culture and its history, beliefs and culture at a meeting of the International Student Club on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

Salma’s presentation began with geography, history and famous landmarks of Pakistan.

She displayed photos of archaeological sites Harappa and Monjo-daro, the Kalash people and their tombs, the Khewra Salt Mines and K2, the second highest mountain on Earth.

She showed photos of major cities in Pakistan: Karachi, Lahore and her hometown Islamabad.

Salma discussed Pakistani festivals, such as the Wagah border ritual and the Basant kite-flying festival.

Salma said she enjoyed talking the most about Pakistani wedding traditions.

“It’s really exciting for (non-Pakistani people) that we have a week-long wedding and with all these events and colors and festivities,” she said. “That’s what surprised a lot of people.”

According to Salma, most marriages in Pakistan are arranged and involve bridal showers, baraat, dances and a wedding festival. The bride traditionally wears a red dress.

Salma also discussed famous Pakistani people such as Abdus Salam, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics; Benazir Bhutto, the first female prime minister in Pakistan; Malala Yousafzai, leader of a movement encouraging girls to attend school and Afra Karim, the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional at the age of nine.

“I want to share (Pakistan’s culture) with these people because most of them don’t even know about Pakistan, and those who know about it know through international media, and the media … presents things it wants the people to think, which, most of the time, is not happy,” Salma said. “I wanted to show part of Pakistan that’s really pretty and beautiful and striving: the young side, the modern side.”

Salma prepared biryani, a main dish with rice, chicken and spices, for the meeting attendees.

“(Salma) really went above and beyond with all the different trinkets and shoes and clothing and definitely the food,” Phillips said. “The club members really love it when they get to actually taste something that another country eats.”

Salma said she enjoys interacting with other cultures.

“We share different cultures and we learn how to respect different perspectives (in the International Students Club),” Salma said. “Sometimes what you think is appropriate is not appropriate for someone else and that’s how you learn, by putting yourself in a different culture. That’s the best part of being here. I’m leaving in December and I’m really going to miss this place.”

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