This week we bring to you one of our favourites from the YES alumna, RJ Umme Kulsoon. Kulsoom is a social activist by interest, a radio jockey by passion, and a telecommunication engineer by career interest. Kulsoom firmly believes that education alone is the key to bring a positive change in the entire ideology of Pakistan.
Read to what this inspiring girl has to say in a one on one exclusive by our correspondent, Syeda Ramsha Wasti.
Tell us something about yourself.
I am an RJ on FM 100. I do a morning drive-time at 7 AM in the morning, and besides that I am working for a UNICEF sponsored project called Children’s Council at iEARN Pakistan as the media and communication officer. Also, I am a blogger, social activist and an evident social media junkie. Recently, I started off working as Lingua Author for Global Voices Online.
Umme, we know that you went to the US as an exchange student for a year through the Youth Exchange and Study Program. How did you get to know about this opportunity and would it be fair to call this year a pivotal point in your life?
Well, it was the first time when any such exchange program was being held in Pakistan for Secondary School Students. I remember it was my last exam at school when my school’s principal, Mr. Mohsin Tejani, approached me and told me about this opportunity. It was something totally out of the blue but I thought to give it a try. After getting through the test and the interview, I was told that I am amongst the final 28 who would be leaving to the USA in August 2003. That surely was a turning point in my life, and the experience brought a real positive change in my personality, and attitude.
How old were you when you went to the US? Did your parents let you go without any resistance?
I was 16 at that time. My mother and immediate family members were really happy about the opportunity. A couple of extended family members were apprehensive about it in the beginning as it was the pioneer year for the program but nonetheless I ended up going without much hassle.
What has been your greatest achievement?
It has to be my graduation with a reasonably good GPA. I really never thought that I would be able to become a Telecommunication Engineer with flying colors. Engineering is no fun, and it proved to be some grueling four years.
What do you start off your day with?
Prayers followed by my morning show which starts off early at 7 AM. This is something I take really close to my heart as I get so much to learn about myself every single day.
What’s Re-Evolve Pakistan? Tell us more about it.
It’s an initiative taken by a couple of friends and I to improvise the standards of education in Pakistan, and to introduce non-formal education in areas where the primary focus is only on academics. Also Re-Evolve Pakistan aims to cater Education and Youth Empowerment in different Parts of Pakistan.
What is your vision of education?
I believe education is not enough. What also matters is the way that children are groomed and taught. Education can never be standardized because of the socio-economic background of the people in Pakistan. However if it’s given much attention, then there can be education development projects specifically for low socio-economic background.
Which organizations have you worked with?
I have worked with UNICEF, Society for International Education, United Nations Academic Impact program, Rahnuma– Family Planning Association of Pakistan, YES alumni Pakistan, Personality Quotient, and FM 100 Pakistan.
We have heard a lot about your blog. What makes it different from other blogs? Would you like to give a piece of advice to our young writers?
That is quite a treat to know that my blog is being read, and praised. Well, I am still on the verge of discovering a writer in me which is going to take few more years to mature. I have always loved nature, and I usually write about things that connect us to God or our spiritual side. My writings usually touch upon human feelings, and emotions perceived in different situation, and events.
What are your hobbies, Umme?
It’s probably going to be dancing, photography and travelling.
Where do you see yourself in, let’s say, five years?
Honestly, I don’t plan stuff but down the road, I see myself as an established radio presenter and voiceover artist, and possibly making my dream of having an All Pakistan Radio Jockeys Associations turn into a reality. Plus, I hope to be married with children too someday.
What is your BIG WHY/Motive?
My biggest motive in life is to serve the humanity by all means. I have always been a person who would love to spend time talking to people, listening to their problems and issues and, trying to connect with people from different backgrounds, and bringing about a positive lifestyle for them.
How did you become a social activist?
I started off working as a volunteer for different awareness campaigns and community service projects. My work experience and travel exposure made me realize that people of our country only lack behind in grabbing opportunities because they are not connected to right people. So my tweets and facebook profile became the hub for such causes that needed promotion, and Alhamdulillah managed to help quite a bunch of folks in getting sponsorships, medical treatments and blood donations.
How do you strike a balance between your personal life and professional life?
Interestingly, the people I work with are my best friends. So, I consider it a blessing in disguise plus it helps me keeping a balance between my social and professional life. I spend my Sundays at home so that I can spend 24 hours in complete homely atmosphere. When I intend to finish my work on time, I really like to be in the company of my friends and family.
What do you aim to convey to people who might consider you an inspiration?
I have a long way to go to inspire someone. But I would just suggest couple of things to the youngsters of this country: all of you are unique in some or the other way. Failure shouldn’t be an option for you. Identify what you love and excel in it. The world is a cruel place so all you need to do is to be prepared for what is coming your way. Never let anyone take control of your life because you, yourself, are the best in-charge of your own being. Lastly, carry a positive attitude towards life. Spread optimism and be as loyal as you can to your own self.
Finally, what would you like to say about the Youth Correspondent?
Youth Correspondent is an aspiring initiative and I see it going a long way in future. Wishing the entire team good luck for their future endeavors!