Pakistan Night shares and celebrates students’ culture


Selena Favela

Sajjad Naqvi plays guitar and sings during Pakistan Night held in the Beggs Ballroom of the RSC Sunday evening.

Students from the Pakistani Student Association (PSA) hosted a cultural celebration for the nation that many of them call home.

Pakistan Night was held in the ballroom of the Rhatigan Student Center, adorned with green and white national flags.

“I love Pakistan, and that’s why I’m promoting it,” PSA President Zehdan Qidwai said.

At Pakistan Night, the Pakistani national anthem, folk songs, and pop tunes were sang in Urdu.

“A lot of people from other cultures won’t be able to understand, but they will get the idea of what type of music people play in Pakistan,” Qidwai said.

Pakistan Night attendees chose from popular Pakistani dishes, including a type of flatbread called naan and biryani, a spicy rice dish traditionally served with meat and vegetables.

“We have [biryani] at every single festival, any special occasion, or religious festival, or cultural festival” Qidwai said. “We have to have a biryani because a lot of people like biryani and even non-Pakistani people are familiar with it.”

Born and raised in Pakistan, Qidwai moved to the United States in 2015 to pursue a mechanical engineering degree at Wichita State.

“The college of engineering is really good, and I heard really good things about Wichita State,” Qidwai said. “Being an international student, we pay a lot more fees than people that are paying in-state tuition, and we don’t get any grants or any type of scholarships, so … I thought Wichita would be one of the most cost-effective places to live.”

PSA Treasurer Muhammad Rohail Jamil, also originally from Pakistan, said that the most difficult part of moving to the United States was only being able to see his family over winter break during the school year.

“Thank God for technology because without it, I wouldn’t be able to communicate with my family,” Jamil said. “You can adjust cultures in a few months, but you can never find a new family. That’s the hardest part.”

Jamil moved to Wichita in 2016, and is currently seeking a degree in computer science.

Qidwai said hosting events on campus helps Pakistani students feel more at home while also exposing non-Pakistani students to the nation’s culture.

“They get to enjoy the food, they get to enjoy the music that they used to listen to back home, and they get to meet people from our country,” Qidwai said.

Qidwai said that unity was one of the most prominent aspects of Pakistani culture.

“If I see someone who belongs to Pakistan, I’m going to feel proud of them,” Qidwai said.

On April 28th, the group will host a kite-flying celebration in honor of the Pakistani holiday, the Basant kite festival, at O.J. Watson Park in Wichita.

“We ordered kites from Pakistan, and we had them delivered here, and we decided to hold the event so people can enjoy that type of traditional event,” Qidwai said. “People make different food, different kinds of snacks, and we all go on the roofs to fly kites.”