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Cultural Shock!

January 16, 2010

I am sure you remember where you were the morning of September 11, 2001

I precisely remember it was evening time in Pakistan and I was holding my visa application for US immigration.  My parents had already been living in US since March of 2000.

Making a very very very long and stressful story short I made it here to reunite with my parents a month after 9/11. 

I was very happy to be here with my family and was looking forward to going to high school here. Being born and raised in Pakistan I thought going to high school here would be something straight out of the movies…  after all that’s how I knew anything about American culture at all anyway. 

Well I can tell you that it wasn’t anything like Grease but my high school experience at Hastings High was more like Kate’s from the movie Mean Girls. People weren’t too excited about getting immigrants from that part of the world and I can share with you how do I know, firsthand.

Every time I would tell someone that I am from Pakistan they knew where Pakistan was!  This wasn’t always the case before 9/11 from what I have heard.

But that’s not where the conversation always ended.  Most of the times I would get questions that I wasn’t quite sure how to answer.  I have made an effort to list some of them here …

  1. Isn’t that the country next to Afghanistan?

Yeah it is … and next to India and china and Iran and Arabian Ocean. But honestly isn’t that what you think of first when you hear Pak-ISTAN…. Afghan-ISTAN

  1. Yeah but where in America did you move here from?!

When I said I am from Pakistan I am in fact from there!  I never understood that question but once someone told me that it is hard to catch my accent, and then it made more sense.

  1. Have you seen Bin Laden?

This was the most ridiculous question I was asked and the kid wasn’t kidding.  He is the one who asked me this next question…

  1.  Isn’t he a national hero there?

He thought he was a big celebrity that everyone knew and loved and had seen!

                No one has ever seen him, is he even real?

  1. Why don’t you cover your head?

Personal preference, culture … there are so many many answers to this one but the bottom line is I just don’t .

  1. If you are from Pakistan how come you speak English?

English medium school dah!

  1. Why is your skin lighter than other Pakistanis?

They would actually point at other Indian and Pakistani girls! That was rude!

  1. The craziest one that I got was which one of your parents white?!

I know!!!   Kids at Hastings High were in a bigger cultural shock then I was lol

  1. Do you guys have houses and roads?

Most of them thought we all lived in shacks.  They would continue to ask me questions and I would tell them yeah we have real buildings and highways, malls, restaurants, theme parks and movie theaters.

They were almost always very surprised to find out that we have McDonalds, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, TGI Friday and Walmart!

so do you have any questions?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Erik Noriega permalink
    January 16, 2010 10:01 pm

    The ignorance displayed by these questions doesn’t surprise me much. It’s been my experience that people in this area assume that ANY Hispanic or Latino is from Mexico or of Mexican descent. Actually being from Mexico this doesn’t bother me much, but I can imagine it annoys non-Mexicans a lot.

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