WRITTEN BY: Christeen Salik, Pakistan Development Foundation (PDF)
Photos by: Haris Javed
Identity is an odd thing. So is youth. And mixed together, it’s a disaster. Most people around me are at this point in their lives where they’re figuring out their identity. Solidifying their stances. Affirming their alliances. Whatever you want to call it!
For some, it’s easier. You know who you are. You know where you belong. You know who your people are. For others, and I’d like to say a good majority, it’s a bit more difficult. That’s where the problem of mixed identities pops up.
I was born in Pakistan (and yes, it’s nicer than the media says), and moved to Canada at the young age of 7. Here begins the trouble. Now who am I… a Pakistani or a Canadian? But wait, there’s more!
Although I was born in an Islamic country, I’m a Christian. Most people don’t believe me, and I often get remarks like “you’re the first Christian Pakistani I’ve met,” or “I didn’t know there were any Christians in Pakistan.” Yes, we’re here. Nice to meet you too!
Then I saw the executive applications for the Pakistan Development Foundation on my newsfeed (thank you Mark Zuckerberg, you innovator you). Looking more into the group – okay, admittedly stalking their public profile – I found that they raised their voices for unheard social issues in Pakistan and even fundraised for various charitable causes. The activist in me was dancing, and the Pakistani in me was infinitely curious!
So in a way, joining the leadership of the Pakistan Development Foundation was an experiment: “Let’s see what born and bred Pakistanis are like, how different are they from me?” Am I going to fail or pass the Pakistani identity test? Am I going to be left out? In hindsight, I don’t know why I was scared.
Although sometimes I felt out of the loop, with jokes I didn’t understand and Urdu terminology that was way too advanced for me, it wasn’t very different from family. I’d sit with my siblings like this and discuss, or have a chat with my cousins in the same manner.
It made me realize that I don’t have to be raised in a specific place to identify with it. I don’t have to be either Canadian or Pakistani, both nationalities are near and dear to me. Why choose, when you can have the best of both worlds (it was a phrase long before Miley Cyrus turned it into a theme song, get over it people!).
And in the end, sitting in a room with likeminded people talking about social issues and how to resolve them, I realized something… this is where I find my people. This is where I say I’m home.
Pakistan Development Foundation (PDF)