Pictured here is Disha, an Atlas Corps Fellow from India and my mother Qamar Tariq from Pakistan. I remember sitting on my couch looking at my mother help Disha out with her saree ( A traditional Indian outfit) and thinking to myself isn’t this what “Building Bridges” is all about?

Growing up studying history, we were always exposed to the differences between the Hindu and Muslim culture and how most Indians hate Pakistanis. They do- but only on the cricket field 🙂

For those who are wondering, Disha and I are both Class 24 fellows serving at Atlas Corps. I remember people asking me of how I felt working with an Indian and honestly it’s only been three months but I feel like we’ve been friends for a very long time. Having a coworker in a foreign state who speaks the same language as you, who completely understands your culture, your upbringing, your social constraints, uses the same foul language and most importantly enjoys the same kind of music- what more could I have asked for?

Religion, race, language, financial background can never come in the middle of a friendship, rather it should not. Unfortunately, we are surrounded by people who do consider these things an important part of their friendships. Soon after I arrived in DC, people I consider my good friends, all belonged to different countries including Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Venezuela, Sudan and the list goes on. The best thing about the fellowship program is meeting fellows coming from different countries and getting to know about their culture, their social issues and their upbringing. Every time I have met someone from a different country, at the end of my conversation with them I have always come down to the same conclusion. Irrespective of where you are from, a mother’s love towards her child, fights amongst siblings, the youngest sibling being the most spoilt, parents reactions over poor results, their concerns about marriage will all remain the same. You could be an Australian or a Russian, but you all feel the same way about the stipend. :p #Building Bridges