From Pakistan to America: Arij embraces her culture

By J1 Reporter Maggie Peklo

“Since I have lived in America my whole life, I’ve learned to keep my school and home lifestyle separate. I’ve never had to adjust to it because it has been a part of me,”  junior Arij Khan said.

Arij is taught Pakistani values at home that contradict those seeming to be glorified at Marian. “In my culture it is looked down upon to be in romantic relationships when you’re still a teenager. It is also looked down upon to wear clothes that show a lot of skin. This obviously counteracts American culture because teenage years are usually when people start experiencing romantic relationships, and there generally aren’t any major rules or expectations when it comes to clothing,” she said.

She said sometimes she feels as if she isn’t able to be herself because of the differences in values. In situations like these, she will go along with American values despite what her culture has taught her.

“One time where I felt as though I had to go along with my American friends is when they all wanted to go to a dance and then have a sleepover afterwards,” she said. “In my culture, it is extremely abnormal to sleep over at other people’s houses. It is seen as unusual and weird. Doing this for the first time was hard because I had to convince my parents for days to let me, whereas all of my friends got permission easily.”

Her parents Naureen and Omar Rafiq, who moved here in 1997 for educational opportunities, said adjusting to the cultural norms between them and their children is the hardest part of raising kids in the United States. “In Pakistan, extended families have a closer bond to each other, the teenage culture was mostly similar, though,” Naureen and Rafiq said, “[but] Our kids are more independent in making their decisions and have better “street smart” skills.”

Picture of Pakistani City Area and Architecture. Photo By Arij Khan

However, when she recounted her trip to Pakistan she said she was able to be herself without having to put aside her culture. “The experience was completely different than anything I have ever witnessed before. I went into a culture shock. Pakistan is a third world country, so I saw a lot more poverty, homelessness, and uncleanliness. The electricity would go out every couple hours because the country could not afford to keep its electricity running throughout the day. Nonetheless, it brought me a lot of happiness,” she said.

“I got to see where my parents grew up, and I felt so normal and felt like I was just like everyone else. I have always been looked at as a minority in America, so being in a place where I was not a minority was an amazing feeling.

“Going to Pakistan truly made me proud of who I am and it is such a beautiful country with amazing people.”


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The Network is the student newspaper of Marian High School, Nebraska's only Class A College-Preparatory School for young women.

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