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Country Facts

Pakistan is located in South Asia and borders India, Afghanistan, Iran, and China. Most of Pakistan is desert terrain, although there are high mountains in the north which create an arctic climate. Pakistan suffers from a large number of earthquakes, which are the source of a lot of death and destruction since the country boasts the sixth largest population in the world, with over 193 million people (as of 2016). The vast majority of Pakistan is Muslim (96 percent), with small Christian and Hindu communities. Pakistan gained its independence in 1947, when the British officially left India, and the area once known as British India split into two sovereign states: India and Pakistan. Islamabad is the country’s capital. Pakistan is an Islamic state. Major languages spoken in Pakistan include English, Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, and Balochi.

Cultural Immersion Activities

  1. Show students the flag of Pakistan and allow time for them to draw and color the flag. (Or leave the flag uncolored until after you learn about Pakistani Truck Art, introduced below, and then decorate the flag in this unique style).
  2. Research/Visual/Kinesthetic Integration: Pakistan’s Vibrant Culture
    1. Using this short video as a guide, divide the class into four groups, giving each group one topic to research and present to the class (Pakistan's social etiquette, Pakistani food, Pakistani festivals, and Pakistani weddings).
    2. Encourage the groups to find as many pictures and/or short video clips as they can, or even to enact the celebration, meal or wedding for the class, creating a colorful and vibrant presentation as a reflection of Pakistan’s colorful and vibrant culture.
  3. Culinary Integration: The Tastes and Aromas of Pakistan
    1. Invite someone from your community who has ties to Pakistan and its traditions to come speak to the class about his or her cultural heritage. If they are able, suggest that they bring with them some traditional Pakistani food for the students to sample.
    2. Pakistan is known the world over for several of its traditional meals, including Biryani, Korma, and Kebabs. Together as a class, research these different foods, finding a variety of recipes online that can easily be recreated on the school premises (some resources listed below). If it is not possible to cook at school, arrange for a variety of these dishes to be made and brought to the school (at home or ordered in from a local Pakistani restaurant). Share this meal together as a class, remembering to incorporate any elements of Pakistani culture and etiquette you’ve learned about.
    3. Alternatively, if your time or context makes a full meal impossible, consider preparing and sharing one or more of Pakistan’s specialty drinks, such as Kashmiri chai or mango lassis. Perhaps your students could enjoy a cup of Kashmiri chai as they listen to you read Pakistani picture books or as your class listens to Pakistani music.
  4. Art Integration: Pakistani Truck Art
  5. Pakistan is known for its intricate truck art. Watch Arwa Damon’s short video on Pakistani truck art, and/or view this picture gallery of a variety of trucks. This unique art form could be explored in a number of different ways, depending on the students’ age level and available time frame. Some possibilities:

    1. Print or display a few examples of patterns/pictures found on truck art and distribute blank postcard-size card stock, and markers or paint to each student. Ask students to recreate the pattern or to design their own picture inspired by the pattern. Then, after your study of Malala, the students can use these “Truck Art Postcards” to write notes to Malala, responding to what they’ve learned about her life and her work for peace. Alternatively, these postcards can be used to write thank you notes to teachers and administrators in your school, expressing gratitude for the gift of education (after learning about the value of education from Malala).
    2. Practice drawing or painting patterns and pictures in the style of Pakistani truck art. Decorate the Pakistani Flag with this style of art, or after the study of Malala, decorate her Peace Tree Leaf in this style as a reminder of her cultural context.
    3. If colorful and patterned duct tape (or other tape) is available and students are old enough to work with exacto knives, allow the students to try their hand at tape art like the artists in the Arwa Damon video. Perhaps they could make a patterned border for a classroom bulletin board, decorate their Peace Journals, or decorate their Pakistani flags. (This is a more difficult skill than the students may realize after watching the Pakistani artists. Be sure to present the activity as an act of appreciation for the artistry required, so as to foster admiration and not cause too much personal frustration).
Additional Resources
  1. Google Maps/Google Earth, focusing on Pakistan
  2. Flag of Pakistan and flag coloring sheet
  3. Slideshow of Pakistan (7 pictures of the Swat Valley)
  4. Pakistan's Most Wild and Beautiful Places
  5. Short video of Pakistan
  6. Around Pakistan in Ten Fun Facts
  7. Song of Lahore (Award-winning documentary about the lives and cultural heritage of Pakistan’s classical musicians, documenting their journey to a performance with Wynton Marsalis in New York City)
  8. Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples: A Newberry Honor book for High School students about the coming of age of a Pakistani girl from the Cholistan Desert.
  9. Pakistan: Culture and Traditions (video)
  10. Good sources for Pakistani recipes: My Tamarind Kitchen, This Muslim Girl Bakes, Haffa’s Kitchen Adventures
  11. Picture Books:
    1. P is for Pakistan (World Alphabets) by Shazia Razzak
    2. King for a Day, Ruler of the Courtyard and others by Rukhsana Khan
    3. Bano, Billoo, and Amai: The Paper Doll Book by Fauzia Aziz Minallah (Learn about food, dress, languages, etc, of different regions of Pakistan)
    4. Pakistan (Enchantment of the World) by Liz Sonneborn: Middle years book exploring Pakistan’s history, culture and geography