Crossing Borders that commenced Exhibition at Lahore Heritage Museum

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Lahore Heritage Museum brimmed with schoolchildren viewing a multimedia exhibition titled Crossing Borders that commenced on Friday.

The exhibition narrates the fictional story of a Pakistan boy and an Indian girl who meet through Exchange for Change- a student exchange programme between schoolchildren from India and Pakistan- in various forms.

Citizens’ Archive of Pakistan (CAP) senior project manager Fareeha Rashid told The Express Tribune that the exchange had begun in 2012 and would conclude this year with the end of the physical student exchange that has been taking place in India. She said six schools from the city, five from Rawalpindi and four from Karachi had been taken on board regarding the programme.  Rashid said a storybook based on the experiences of students from grade six to eight had been compiled. She said those visiting the exhibition would have the opportunity to view how the story progressed.

Rashid said students had participated extremely enthusiastically in the programme this year. She said students from Sanjan Nagar School System and Bali Memorial Technical High School were ecstatic at being given the opportunity to participate in the exchange. She said the schools had been especially chosen as it was thought that visiting India would be a remote possibility for most of their students.  Rashid said two students had been chosen from each of the schools to visit India as part of a 30-student delegation. She said five officials from the CAP and 15 teachers had accompanied the delegation.  Rashid said the delegation had departed on February 8 and was scheduled to return on February 15.

Umaima Khalid, a young student from Lahore Grammar School, told The Express Tribune that she had really enjoyed the exhibition. She said she had also penned letters to two people in India. Khalid said she had written about Pakistani culture and the independence movement to them. She said she could not recall the names of the people she had addressed the letters to.

Kinza Mukhtar, a student from Sanjan Nagar School System, said the exhibition was ‘wonderful. Umme Ruman, another student from the school, said she vividly remembered who she had written to. ‘I wrote to Enaya. She wrote to me about her favourite things,” she said. Umme Ruman said she felt no difference between Indians and Pakistanis. “We are all the same people. It’s just politics that divides us,” she said.  Syed Reza, another student from the school, said he had written great things about India to Anil after he sent him a letter saying great things regarding Pakistan.

Reza said they had also written songs for each other.  CAP governing board member Swaleha Alam Shahzada said the programme had succeeded in negating stereotypical views of the ‘other.’ She said the children had learnt that India and Pakistan can coexist peacefully despite their tumultuous past.

Routes2Roots founder Rakesh Gupta said the exchange had brought about a marked change in how participants viewed ‘the other.’

The event was organised by the CAP and Routes2Roots. It will conclude on February 20.

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