A Simple Trip, A Global Lesson

As a freelance writer I’ve taken on assignments that range from the extremely fascinating to the maddeningly banal. However, no any article I’ve written had gained international attention—until now.

Last fall, I was commissioned by Delaware Today—a statewide publication not unlike New Jersey Monthly—to travel to Washington, D.C., with a delegation of seven Pakistani businessmen. The men were members of the Lahore Mazong Rotary Club, and they were visiting the United States on a seven-day mission to build “person-to-person relationships” with members of the Rotary Club of Wilmington and—in theory—the rest of the country.

In addition to touring the nation’s capital, they would be visiting the State Department and the Embassy of Pakistan, meeting with high-ranking officials and discussing matters of international diplomacy. I knew the assignment would prove an interesting one—I just had no idea how interesting.

The trip was one of the most transformative I have ever taken. Embracing the overarching theme of bridging gaps in goodwill while shedding the oppressive skin of stereotypes, I ended the journey significantly less cynical than I had started it, actually believing that grand notions of peace and understanding are achievable after all, even if it comes down to changing just one person at a time.

Apparently my enthusiasm and optimism are spreading.

The resulting article, “Hands Across the Water”, was published last month and has garnered attention not only in the United States but in Pakistan as well. The response has been so overwhelming that the magazine published two pages of readers’ letters. Consider the following from Almas Jovindah, chairman of the Lahore Mozang Rotary Club:

The article, “Hands Across the Water,” has been very well received here in Pakistan, where it is being shared with many influential persons. A highly placed government official declared to me that this article “is unparalleled positive media coverage for Pakistan.”

Or this comment, left on the wall of my Facebook page by a complete stranger in Pakistan:

I have read your article in a local newspaper. It will be an understatement to say we need such articles. We need much more, especially in [the] aftermath of Osama affair. Thank you for writing that…

Many of my friends and peers are engaged in noble, selfless enterprises, and I often wonder how my life—my career, my passion, my energy—is working toward somehow leaving this world in better shape than I found it. Writing this article allowed me to witness how the stories I tell can have an impact far beyond expectation, even if it is only one person at a time.

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