Saryal Saeed is a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program (KL-YES) alumnus from Peshawar. While he was in the U.S., he had the most interesting coincidence an exchange student from Pakistan could have. His story is a testament to the power of exchanges and cultural diversity as a tool of forging connections.
I was in Washington D.C. for one of our program activities as a KL-YES grantee. By this time, I had adjusted quite smoothly with the public transport system in the U.S and had no inhibitions about traveling on public transport. Like always, I had my headphones on in the Metro Orange line and, as my routine, I was eyeing the view we were passing by. But that day what caught my attention was not a peculiar view beyond the metro, but within! A man wearing a hat that was native to my home province – Khyber Pukhtonkhwa. This hat, known popularly as a Chitrali topi, is not a piece of clothing easily camouflaged into the American attire – it stands out! Especially, if you are dressed up in a suit. I had a burning question in my head: how did he manage to get this hat?