Faryal Perwez Haque went on a fortnight trip to Sichuan Normal University (SNU)in Chengdu China. She was part of a cultural exchange between the University of Karachi (UoK) Pakistan and SNU. She studied Chinese language and culture at the Confucius Institute at UoK. It was a fortnight trip starting from 29 August thru 12 September 2014, it includes lectures, field trips and cultural activities-a complete immersion into life in the capital of Sichuan Province. Faryal is the youngest daughter of Mr. Perwez Alam Haque Saudi Aramco Badge No. 73320 and a permanent member of Saudi Aramco Ex-Employees Association (SAEEA) worked for the Marine Department Ras Tanura.
The city of Chengdu is among the top five major cities of China, a vibrant economic hub that was named the World Capital of Gastronomy in 2010. The Sichuan province has a functioning, millennia-old irrigation system termed a UNESCO World Heritage Site while on the other hand; it is one of the fastest growing technical and business hubs in China. Naturally it attracts students from all over the world, and so, the University of Karachi's scholars of Chinese language, albeit a select few, arrive here within 6 months of studying at their campus' Confucius Institute. Faryal visited the world famous Giant Panda sanctuary to have an up close view of the majestic creatures in their natural habitat. An avid nature enthusiast, she relished the abundance of natural beauty in the mountains surrounding the city of Du Jiang Yan and the Min River. As a popular activity for locals and visitors, there is a steep and daunting, not to mention time consuming, journey up the slopes of the Qing Cheng Mountain which is one of the holiest place in the Dao religion. Each stoppage on Faryal's trek to the summit was marked by a Daoist Temple and a personal sense of wonder and achievement. The summit of the mountain gave a misty and soothing view of the lush valley down below. The province of Sichuan has a lot to offer for an adventurous food lover, whether it is a spicy hot pot, aromatic tofu or eye catching squirrel fish (a normal fish by any terms). Between sessions of taichi and weiqi, Faryal sampled the local cuisine and the cultural aspects of life on the SNU campus. Folk music and dance from both Pakistan and China was performed together by both the hosts and the guests to the amusement of all present. Most of the days were spent in taking courses on Chinese language, history and culture from the eminent faculty members and the late evenings were spent playing sports and socializing with the hospitable and welcoming students.
Faryal found the stay a great opportunity to practice speaking Chinese with native speakers and found that her confidence and skill increased. The shopping district of the city was explored without a local guide, where she did rigorous bargaining on goods with the shopkeepers by employing her skill in Chinese speaking. Finally, on the penultimate day, Faryal sat for an exam assessing her grasp of the concepts she had learnt which she cleared with a good score and received her certificate from the Dean of SNU. Later in the day, she and her colleagues attended a lunch in their honour hosted by the Consul General of Pakistan in China Ms Amna Balouch. Faryal's journey of discovery continues as do her studies. Upon return to Karachi, she enrolled into the next level in her study program on a scholarship based on her previous scores. She is looking forward to sitting for the HSK 3 exam (Chinese Proficiency Test - level 3) next year.