The following post is a continuation of this 2013 event report.
So, when I say Markhor, I drift to the most amazing experience of my conferencing life! I say most amazing because I, for one, love to travel and socialize, and this event was an infusion of the best of both. Markhor ’13, with a ticket priced at PKR 55000, seemed to be one of those things that I really wanted to attend but could not afford to. However, some friends at Youth Impact (the organization behind Markhor) encouraged me to apply for a scholarship. So I did, and bam! I unbelievably scored it!
And so began the journey of a dreamer, as I reached Islamabad. I was awed as I tried to take in everything I could see. It was like my Pakistan Studies book had come to life, and for the first time it wasn’t as boring as it always seemed to be. It was a feeling that I can not describe in words, and there are not many things that have such an effect on me. The participants of Markhor ’13 assembled and boarded the buses to leave for our ultimate destination: the Mushkpuri Peak in Dunga Gali. Cards, bag pack, whistles and other necessary accessories were distributed to us before we began the ascent. They also took away our phones and I surprisingly learnt to overcome my addiction. Absolutely delirious with excitement, we began the hike to the top of the peak. Along the way, I made friends and my tribe was exceptionally helpful. The hike was something I will never forget; the alpine trees and the beautiful, crisp scent of woods, engraved for ever in my memory.
Once we finally got to the campsite, we were allotted camps and the conference actually begun. The organizers had some games planned for us, and while playing and freezing simultaneously in the cold, we learned what it meant to work as a team. We competed, but there were no enemies, as at an astonishing 9240 feet above sea level, each person had left their uncompromising ego behind. Drowned in the beauty of nature amidst the foggy green heights of the Mushkpuri mountain, we learned the true spirit of caring and sharing because, well, there was no other choice. Food was served to the tired players who ate to their hearts’ and stomachs’ content.
As is customary in a conference, there were also several speaking sessions given by some amazing people, who had hiked all the way up just to be with the participants. Faiq Sadiq, Zeeshan-ul-Hassan Usmani, Nisar Moosa, and Abdul Samad Khan were among the speakers who enthused the participants with inspirational stories of their life and struggles, and of how they overcame their fears to get to the rung of success that they were on now. There was also a mime performed wonderfully by a team of dramatics, who left the partakers and organizers clutching their sides alike.
The exclusivity of Markhor lay in the fact, that instead of just putting together a multitude of people in an auditorium and unleashing half a dozen of droning speakers at them, Youth Impact chose an exceptional venue and interactive methods to convey what they wanted to, to the participants. The most significant part of this conference for me was neither the sessions, nor the games; it was the realization that I am capable of achieving things that I previously thought were unattainable for me. The experience made us reflect upon our lives, made us realize how ignorantly selfish we have been in our short existence, and put our lives into perspective. I came back from the Mushkpuri peak as a different person; not only do I now know what I want from life, I am also much more closer to self-actualization than I previously was.