Pakistani student follows in family’s footsteps

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Karachi, Pakistan (Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org).

Though you might not expect a family in Karachi, Pakistan to discuss the Trojans, Sooners, and Mustangs around the dinner table, Maira Siddiqui’s family has ties to all three of these American universities.

Siddiqui is an SMU sophomore studying economics. She loves her home country of Pakistan but wanted to follow her family’s tradition of attending an American university; her father attended Oklahoma University and her older sister studied at the University of Southern California.

Siddiqui transferred to SMU this fall from Indiana University and the number of friendly strangers who have held open doors for her has been a pleasant surprise. But she has also been surprised by the lack of awareness in America about her culture.

“People don’t exactly know a lot about Pakistan. A lot of people have asked me if I’m Hispanic,” Siddiqui said.

Pakistan is a country of about 2 billion people located between the borders of India, Iran, Afghanistan and the Arabian Sea.

The biggest difference Siddiqui sees between American and Pakistani culture is Americans’ emphasis on capitalistic values compared to Pakistanis’ emphasis on family.

“Brown people are more laid back and harmonious and over here everyone is kind of just looking out for themselves,” she said.

However, her friend Hena Lee said she has been impressed by how open Siddiqui has been to embracing American culture. Lee is a sophomore biology student and a Korean American. Since they became friends on their floor earlier this year, Siddiqui has taught Lee a lot about Pakistani culture and her hometown of Karachi.

Freshman Ahmed Al Matrouk said Siddiqui became his first friend when they met at the international students’ orientation. Because he is originally from the Muslim country of Saudi Arabia, Al Matrouk’s and Siddiqui’s home cultures have many similarities. But the two have also learned from each other, including the different foods from their home countries.

“We went to a Pakistani restaurant called Al-Markaz and their food is similar to Indian but more spicy with less vegetables,” Al Matrouk said.

Though she misses the culture and traditions of her home country, Siddiqui has enjoyed her time at SMU thus far.

“She’s just an awesome person to be around, and she gives a good image of Pakistan,” Lee said.

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