A Student's Perspective

A PSI Student Usama Iqbal, who graduated in 2006, after spending 2 years with us, wrote his views about the school.

How many people have in some way affected my life? Well, there are a lot of people who have. How many of them made a change in me for the better? Once again, there were a lot of people. But how many of them are responsible for hammering in the things that today form about 80% of my character? There are about three of them, and I happen to live with the first two because they’re my parents. The third is a person who I did not expect could match the level of influence and change the first two, meaning my parents, had caused in me. My parents taught me through a display of love, caring and endless support. Number three on the other hand, Madam Ashraf, was possibly the most powerful and dominant women in the school. She was the principal of Preparatory School Islamabad (PSI). And, she took upon herself to changing my sad example confidence into something that even today I cannot describe. All I can say is that it’s something unstoppable. I moved to Pakistan for a year and half due to my father’s business, and I really, really did not want to leave the United States and move to Pakistan. Arriving in Pakistan not to visit, but to live, felt like the worst luck I could have had. I wasn’t fluent enough in Urdu, Pakistan’s national language, and there wasn’t much fun for a 6th grader other than the occasional sports, but even there I needed friends to play with. Anyway, I was admitted into PSI academy. And, on the first day of school, I arrived with my parents, as a lifeless boy. I didn’t have many friends back in the states, so here in Pakistan I felt it wasn’t going to be any better, and on top of that, the level of study here was so advanced in comparison to America that I started out with a poor record of grades. Venturing through the buildings I passed through two glass double doors of the office to be greeted by a silky gray haired woman in her early sixties. She and my parents exchanged greetings first and then she turned to me for greetings. Then she asked, “Do you think you’ll do well here?” I replied in shrug “Not really. It looks real hard”. She stayed silent for about an awkward ten seconds, but then she smiled right back at me, a smile and a look in her eye that said to you “I’ve figured you out”. She ended with “You are going to do very well here”, and she took my hand and led me to my class herself. It was at this time I felt that something about her was going to be very special in the near future. So what exactly made her number three?

What made her number three was the amount of attention she gave me and the way she guided my character to the completion it is today. Madam Ashraf was almost never in her office. She was always among her students patrolling the corridors or out on the grounds. Whenever she was me during school hours, regardless of my class, she always would call me over and start a conversation. The topics would range from how my school life was to how things were back home, but either way it felt assuring to be able to turn to somebody during school for help, and she was the best person to turn to. Sometimes she would call me when I looked tired or down, and offer me extra food from our break times or a trip to the nurse’s. Normally a new student would always receive the sweet treatment, but she treated me the same the whole year I was there. When somebody cares so much about you, you learn to forget any useless feelings that hold you down, and to have had somebody who showed such love to me, especially at a school, I was a real blessing. Throughout the year, I would face certain roadblocks and stumps, sometimes becoming depressed from homesickness and loneliness, or suffering in my grades. Before anybody else would notice such problems, I would find myself called to the principal’s office, and eventually in a conversation with Madam Ashraf about what was wrong. It was here I learned of the importance to tell somebody about your problems. I never really told my parents about school stuff, because in the end I was the one alone at school, but Madam Ashraf on the other hand, took the initiative to find out what I faced, and she would always tell me how to solve it myself. It wasn’t something I had to think about, I already knew I should tell her what was on my mind. I once told her that I wanted to do something very cool, very impressive, so that I could impress other kids, may be get them to notice me, but that everybody was so smart and I wasn’t good enough to beat them. Right away she gave me a little startling slap on my hand, and told me “The only thing that decides who is good enough, is if you have enough desire, enough will to do it.” I have been told many times by teachers and by my parents that I can do anything, but Madam Ashraf didn’t tell me about myself or about others, she stated what I considered a truth. Right afterward she recommended I do so many things I hadn’t done before. I ran for an election, I participated in a musical, I played on the school soccer team, I competed at a high school Public Speaking competition. But this time, I felt a fire while I did it because somebody special told me that if I wanted to I could. Straight out of a novel or movie scene, I ended up successful in each event because of the excitement and the drive to win. I no longer felt intimidated by what was around me. I straight up laughed with happiness and excitement when I won the student council elections. Madam Ashraf showed me how much a little love can really bring out a person. I now love myself thanks to her because if she was able to show such consideration for myself, I should be able to as well.

      I now officially believe, as Stuart Smalley would say, that “I’m good enough, I’m Smart enough, and Dog- gonnat, people like me.