The discussion ranged from cultural questions like sports, favorite music, to more politically sensitive issues like what the students think of their presidents and the Iraq War. Some interesting notes from the conversation:
- When asked about the practice of covering women, one of their girls asked our students about nuns wearing the habit. This was just one example of the students in Pakistan communicating articulately and understanding the broader examples of an issue. I enjoyed hearing their responses to our students’ questions.
- They asked us some tough questions about obesity, drug use, and casinos in our country and area.
- One of their students asked us, “You aren’t wearing uniforms, but we are wearing uniforms. Do you think it makes any difference?”
- The classes also compared rural and urban living in their countries. The classes discovered that students in both countries enjoy surfing and chatting on the Internet, hanging out with friends at the mall, and playing computer games.
- The Kashmir discussion was very enlightening. The students in Pakistan explained that the real fight is over control of the water. We don’t hear that in our media and were surprised to understand the real issue. Hearing the story from someone living in the country is better than hearing it in the media.
It was an interesting conversation. Both sides had some misconceptions about each other that were cleared up in the conversation. I think a little more structure to the conversation would have been helpful. It is also crucial to get to know each other before diving into tough issues. Knowing a bit about the other participants, whether from a neighboring town, or another country, is essential for setting the tone of the conversation.