Life in a conflict zone

Jasim Khan speaks about living in Kashmir, located in South Asia, his experience at TRU and how people can become global citizens. PHOTO BY HUGO YUEN

Sarah Makowsky: News Editor  Ω

Many people in Canada will never know the fear and anxiety associated with living in a zone of conflict, but Jasim Khan has lived it.

The charismatic Bachelor of Tourism Management graduate shared his autoethnography, a personal narrative that explores an individual’s life experiences, last Tuesday at TRU.

Khan spoke about living in Kashmir, located in South Asia, his experience at TRU and how people can become global citizens.

“I meet hundreds and hundreds of students every semester with the Career Education Department and every once in awhile, I’ll meet a student that stands out and resonates with me and I can’t wait to see where that student ends up in five years,” said student employment co-ordinator Susan Forseille.

Khan speaks six languages and is a recent recipient of the TRU World Service Award, due to his thousands of hours of volunteer service at TRU and in the Kamloops community. He completed his Global Competency Certificate and also founded the Muslim Student Association in 2005.

Khan’s home country, Kashmir is in the middle of a border dispute between three countries, Pakistan, India and China. This has led to violent conflicts between citizens and military personnel.

There are 700,000 Indian soldiers in Kashmir. Numerous people, including Kashmirians, have been injured and killed due to the dispute over Kashmir. There are also concerns over human rights violations, said Khan.

He showed some disturbing images of people who were, and in many cases, still are, affected by this conflict. Some images portrayed mothers weeping over their sons’ graves, or the graphic aftermath of a fatal beating by soldiers.

“You have to get a sense of gravity on the situation,” Khan said.

A 17-year-old boy from his hometown was shot and killed by the army as he was walking down the street, about 15 minutes from where Khan lived.

“[The army] didn’t have a real reason to shoot him,” Khan said.

While back in Kashmir this summer, Khan had to abide by a curfew and didn’t have Internet access for 17 days. He said there’s a constant cycle of killing and protests.

“A peaceful day in Kashmir means four or five people are killed.”

Still, Khan maintains a sense of humour. When asked by people why he doesn’t party as much as a typical university student, he replied, “Walking to Superstore and not getting shot, that’s party enough for me.”

He also discussed how many conflicts begin based on stereotypes.

“They exist for reality, but are they reality?” he said.

The problem is the generalizations associated with stereotypes.

“I can do something bad, but if you generalize my entire family or everyone in my country because of something I did, then that’s bad.”

According to Khan, one way to overcome stereotypes is examining why they’re there in the first place. People need to use weapons of love, compassion and sympathy.

“The least you can do is educate yourself,” he said.

People who are global citizens practice culture awareness and self-awareness.

“It’s important to recognize each others’ needs,” Khan said, whether it’s in regard to religion, race or anything else.

“It’s not about where we’re from, it’s what we do.”