Pakistani Cultural Center in a very unexpected placeBy Guest Blogger • May 1st, 2009 • Category: Politics • 2 Comments
There is so much happening in Pakistan politically; some positive but mostly negative. News from Pakistan can give any caring Pakistani stress and anxiety. Outside of Pakistan, the best and brightest of Pakistan are building institutions and centers of Pakistani heritage, culture, religion, intellect, politics and business.
Today I am writing about the first of its kind Pakistani center in United States and you will be surprised to find where it is located. Pakistani American Culture Center (PACC) is a non-religious, non-political, non-profit community supported center that started with simple beginnings; offering children’s Urdu classes and in less than two years grew to be highly vibrant and extremely active center of Urdu language, music, poetry and all things Pakistan. Located in the center of technology world, Silicon Valley, birth of this culture center defies the odds.
PACC started with observation by one of the founders, Farrukh Shah Khan, that his children speak very good English and very good Arabic but speak highly accented Urdu. With the simple idea of teaching Urdu to his own children and others in the neighborhood, he gathered a few students and hired two teachers who came to teach Urdu to Americans on Fulbright scholarship to Stanford University. That was in January of 2007. In March community decided to get active and launch with a fundraiser for The Citizens’ Foundation and celebration of Pakistan Day. In June the organization was officially registered as Pakistani American Culture Center, Inc. with the help and support of the founder Mohammad Asghar Aboobaker. By November of 2007 PACC was approved by the federal government as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
In 2008, PACC celebrated Pakistan Day March 23rd with Banquet and a ghazal program by Iqbal Qasim. It celebrated Basant for the first time in the area with Pakistani kites brought in specially for the occasion. It celebrated Eid Milan with special performance by Tahseen Javed and the band. Celebrated Pakistan Independence Day with a picnic where children were introduced to Pitthu Garam and Kabbadi light. PACC celebrated Founders’ Day on Dec 25th where many Pakistani community members dressed up as one of the early political figures of Pakistan. It organizes monthly Mehfil-e-Sher-o-Sukhan with Urdu Academy of North America, monthly Family Music Night, professional music programs such as Qawwali, Ghazal, Classical Music (Sitar, Santoor, Sarodh) and Raag programs. It offer weekly Chess coaching classes, Karate, Bridge, Ping Pong, Vocal singing, Sitar, Urdu language classes for adults and children. It offers daily “homework helpers” after school program. PACC has conducted women career workshops and conferences. PACC has rented a physical space to conduct all of these programs, the only Pakistani center of its kind to have a physical presence.
On Sunday, May 3rd PACC is organizing 2nd annual Basant Kite Festival from 12:00 noon to 5:00pm at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale, California. There will be bhangra dances, kite flying and kite fighting competition, Pakistani food, live music by local singers, Vendor booths, lots of children activities and comedy skits from 50/50. Visit http://www.PACC-CA.org for more details. PACC is taking the lead in bringing local South Asian (Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, Sikh and Afghani) communities and Americans together through this event.
All of this is possible due to a few simple rules. First and most important rule that PACC employs is to allow people to follow their passion. Who ever comes up with a bright idea is publically given the task to lead the execution of the idea. This way no one talks unless they have the passion to follow through on the idea. Another golden rule is that PACC does not pre-judge anyone on their capability to execute. Also, as long as there is no violation of non-religious, non-political and non-profit rules and the project fits under the mission of PACC, no one is discouraged from pursuing the project that they have a passion for.
People at PACC believe that they have found the secret formula for triggering the Pakistani passion to do great creative works.
By Asma Khan