In 2010, Citizen’s Archive of Pakistan [CAP] ]in collaboration with Routes 2 Roots launched the Exchange for Change [EFC] pilot project as an interactive initiative linking 2400 school students from 10 schools across Delhi, Mumbai, Lahore and Karachi. The project aimed to help students in both countries realize that a sustained dialogue is possible and to enable a clearer understanding of their shared history, culture and lifestyles.
During the 16-month life of the project, a continuous exchange of letters, postcards, photographs, oral histories and a final physical exchange – visits to Delhi and Lahore, helped to dispel misinformation about historical events and encouraged students to form their own opinions.
Based on the success of the EFC Pilot Project, CAP announced the launch of Exchange for Change 2012 – 2013 at a press conference in Karachi at the Marriot Hotel. The press conference was addressed by Co- Founding Member & Co- President of CAP Amean Jan, followed by Swaleha Alam Shahzada, Executive Director of CAP, after which actor and musician Ali Zafar briefly spoke the media. The press conference concluded with a Question & Answer session which was opened by Ali Reza Mumtaz, Board Member of CAP.
Indeed during the 12-month life of this project, a sustained exchange of written, visual and oral histories will take place between 3500 school children, between the ages 10 and 14, from 17 schools across Karachi, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Delhi, Chandigarh and Mumbai.
Swaleha Alam Shahzada, Executive Director of CAP on the launch of the program said, “When we launched this project in 2010 we believed that this was one small step towards enabling our next generation to build bridges with India. Now as we re-launch EFC 2012 – 2013, we know that we have made a giant leap in our shared history. Our stories are the same – we just need to share them!”
Leading Actor & Musician Ali Zafar who attended the press conference in support of the Exchange for Change 2012 – 2013 program said “In my view it is very important to understand and know what our generation will be passing on to the next generation. We should make it our responsibility to pass on the message of love & peace to the next generation. It will be a great thing if people from Pakistan & India get together and visit each other’s countries. It’s a wonderful thing that CAP has initiated through Exchange for Change in children’s schools across Pakistan. I really do feel that the key to progress for us as a nation is to have friendly relations with all our neighbours”
Tina Vachani, Co-founder of R2R said, “It is hard for people to forget the past; and sometimes feelings of animosity are passed down generation after generation. A project like Exchange for Change will allow students to judge for themselves. The idea behind this project is not to ask the students to befriend the student they are writing to, rather, it is a relationship that will build and develop over time and thus change the biases and opinions that have been embedded in their hearts through society.
The exchange will hopefully help students realize that the children on the other side of the border are just like them and have similar hobbies and daily routines. When students participating in the project voice their experiences to other friends and family members hopefully it will be worth more than a drop in the ocean and a chain message will spread from student to student.”
Speaking about this initiative, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, President of CAP has said, “I am proud of what The Citizens Archive of Pakistan’s recent venture, Exchange for Change, has achieved in bridging the divide between the youth of India and Pakistan. Through dialogue and experiencing our shared culture and history, I am certain that the youth of these two great nations will pave a peaceful road to mutual understanding. By addressing our cultural misconceptions, peace and harmony have been facilitated through the strongest medium of both nations – their youth.”
Through EFC students will be engaged in different activities such as the exchange of letters, postcards, photographs, videos, oral histories and a physical exchange that in turn endeavors to help dispel misconceptions about the other country and encourage students to form their own opinions.
The Citizens Archive of Pakistan (CAP) is a not-for-profit cultural, educational and heritage center established in February 2007 with the aim of strengthening civil society and giving full rein to the creativity of Pakistanis, allowing them to express and explore their heritage and history. CAP serves as the first ever private initiative to collect, archive, study, disseminate and exhibit all aspects of Pakistan’s history – both before and after partition. CAP aspires to develop as the foremost museum of Pakistani history, art, photography, culture, literature and historical documentation, demonstrating the strength and spirit of Pakistan from the Citizen’s perspective.
About Routes 2 Roots
Routes 2 Roots (R2R) is a registered non-profit, tax exempt society that has been working to promote cultural exchange, facilitate people exchange programs between SAARC countries and assist in promoting economic growth and trade relations between countries in this region. Routes 2 Roots has been actively engaged with ICCR, Delhi Tourism, Rajasthan Tourism, J&K Tourism and other government and non government organizations. Routes 2 Roots is also a member of the World Association of Non Government Organisations, New York – USA.