Shining the light of hope

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By Fatima Arif

We live in a country where, at times, holding on to optimism can become a harrowing task. In recent events, again our youth had to show face and show courage in a capacity that they shouldn’t be expected to. Our educational institutions present the sight of a maximum security prison facility, with barbed wires, piles of sand bags and snipers welcoming the students every morning.

How does one still hold on to optimism in such circumstances? Well, when the kids who are silently shouldering the pressure and still managing to shine at international platforms like the Lahore Grammar School, we adults can surely try and match their spirit.

Lahore Grammar School’s Johar Town branch qualified for the semifinals of the Asian Regional Space Settlement Design Competition (ARSSDC) that took place from 30th January to 2nd February, in Gurgaon, India.

FB_IMG_1455008221416-2A total of twenty five teams and five hundred students from Pakistan, India, China and South Korea participated in the twelfth run of this prestigious international competition. The teams worked as a company to develop a new design concept which had to meet the specific parameters of the competition. Lahore Grammar School (Johar Town) senior boys, senior girls and the City School (Ravi Campus) had teamed up with Delhi Public School and Beijing High School Number 11, winning the competition.

Hamza Akmal Chaudhry was the Company President, the responsibility of Director of Human Factors was shouldered by Rayan, Hassan Aftab worked as the Director Structural Design. Mujtaba Ahmed was awarded the Dick Edwards award for the role of non-official member of the company for outstanding individual contribution to the project.

It is important to note that, our younger generation is quite sensitive to the fact that they are scanned in a very stereotypical light. They have voluntarily taken the task of showing the other side to the rest of the world and try to highlight this fact in whatever they do. Hamza Akmal is no different and when asked about his experience during the competition, he made sure that he didn’t miss out on highlighting this and shared;

“There’s nothing quite like it. As if the pressure of harboring the hopes of our school wasn’t enough, we had to fight for the pride of our nation as well. When they announced the results, I didn’t feel exuberant at all. Instead, I felt relieved that I’d done what I was expected to. Maybe people could now understand that we aren’t just terrorists, that we’re something more.”

We live in a digital age where communication barriers are coming down every day. Still at times it feels that individual refuse to acknowledge the other side. Such competitions can help the next generation by providing them with opportunities to work together and get firsthand experience that humanity and talent can and should supersede national identities.

“The victory was certainly something to remember. Although for us, the collective work we did as a team with the Chinese and the Indian students was much more valuable as our cooperation proved that underneath our veneer of national identities, we are all the same.” – Rayan Tofique

Such competitions not only highlight the best of global talent, but also help in fostering regional ties that are needed to ensure that we look for sustainable solutions for our collective problems. This was the primary reason for Hassan Aftab’s statement that the team is not only a representative of Pakistan, but of the entire Asian continent.

“My friends are ecstatic that we’ve won the competition after 10 unsuccessful attempts. My parents are excited about me going to the USA for the world finals. As unbelievable as it may sound, many people are still unaware of the implications of this victory. We’ll be representing not only Pakistan, but also Asia at the world finals, but so far no one has displayed any acknowledgement of our feat.”

The Lahore Grammar School boys’ branch have also qualified for the International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC) and will be representing Pakistan later in July at the Kennedy Space Center, USA.

Next time you feel like going into a stupor of depression, have a good look at these kids and many others like them. They will give you a reason to look at the future with hope.

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