Idea Endorsed by Large
Community Turnout at Picnic
Silicon Valley Craves for a Pak
By Amjad Noorani
group of students with Urdu teacher Afsheen Afzal
the USA is the melting pot of the world, Silicon Valley
is a key ingredient of that clichéd concoction called
The Valley rightfully boasts of an impressive Mexican Heritage
Plaza in San Jose serving the Latino community, while the
relatively younger India Community Center (ICC) claims bragging
rights on its own merits.
Now in its new Milpitas location with another ICC in Sunnyvale
and smaller satellite centers spread over the Bay Area,
the ICC website banner message proudly reads: Enriching
Lives, Building Communities.
That’s exactly what Farrukh Shah Khan of Campbell
feels is needed – a Pakistani American Culture
Center (PACC) – to identify, enrich and sustain
the Pakistani community, with cultural activities and fun
programs, driven by the interest of its members.
"It's about time to have a place of our own,"
proclaims Farrukh, “a place where children can learn
our languages, a place to relax and have fun, a center which
offers counseling and services for seniors”.
For about a year now, Farrukh and like-minded professionals
have been meeting and improving on the idea for a center.
Networking with other groups who subscribe to similar ideas
of a ‘center’ is a path strewn with challenges.
Often, hidden turf wars can surface and healthy rivalry
among the groups can lead to disagreements and factions.
But the core founding group of PACC are patiently
going about their business and willing to listen to and
work with anyone interested in the goal of community enrichment.
“The ideal location for the center has to serve a
critical mass of the community”, says Asghar Aboobaker,
another trustee who feels the South Bay provides easy reach
to most surrounding communities. “Of a total population
of 10,000 Pakistani’s in the service area, we could
draw from about half that many”.
“Teaching Urdu has to be made interesting and inter-active
for our kids and we plan to do just that”, chimed
in Hasan Abbas, Secretary of PACC and founder of
a web-based Urdu learning program for kids. “This
fall, we are launching a unique and first-ever completely
web-based interactive/animated Urdu learning program
which will be ideal for the expatriate Pakistani and Indian
kids. We are also working on an interactive curriculum especially
for teenagers. Besides, there’s very strong desire
among non-Pakistani’s for learning Urdu,
especially those interested in shaa’iree
group of Pakistanis at the PACC picnic
a Pakistani culture center draw people away from masajid?
Or can masajid and a culture center be complementary to
each other, one focusing on religion and the other on culture,
without any conflict?
"People have to live. What choices do people have after
work or on weekends? To some, the mosque is all you need.
But there is more to life than just faith." said Abdulrahman
Rafiq of San Jose. “Take music, for example”,
he adds. “Mosques don't offer entertainment. A cultural
center could provide a perfect venue for Pakistanis who
yearn for musical entertainment”.
For Sabahat Ashraf of Fremont, the mosque does not meet
all the needs in a child’s development. "We need
to do more around the Pakistani identity," he says,
“because our kids are saying:`You did a good job
teaching us religion, but not much about our culture’.”
The PACC message and mission were publicly unveiled
on March 23rd Pakistan Day at (what else) a community center
in Cupertino. During the fun evening of nostalgic music
by Alamgir and delicious Pakistani food, a young rapper
– Zaki Syed, stole the hearts of 200 guests with his
own Pakistan Zindabad lyrics. It was good to see
the wide range of talent and entertainment, after thought-provoking
TCF presentations highlighting the need to support education
for underprivileged children in Pakistan.
August 18 was the most recent milestone for PACC
when Pakistan and US flags fluttered side by side for the
60th Independence Day community celebrations picnic at scenic
Baylands Park in Sunnyvale, attracting 400 PACC
supporters and holiday revelers. Good food, lively music
and a good time were enjoyed by all, as the happy pictures
testify. By its presence and obvious enjoyment, the community
was there to support the idea of a center for Pakistani
Like a proud parent, Farrukh joyfully described the successful
family picnic. “This is the first time that Pakistani-Americans
in the South Bay celebrated Pakistan’s Independence
Day with a major event like the PACC picnic. It
seems everyone felt like this was their own, carefree family
picnic. We had fun activities for children, with prizes
for just taking part in the games – winners got bigger
prizes, of course. Traditional Pakistani food was served.
We even had a surprise guest, a gentleman from India who
recently walked 700 miles from Delhi to Multan in a Peace
march yatra, describing his experiences of warm hospitality
and brotherhood in Pakistan.”
“We plan to make the picnic an annual event around
14th of August and also continue with a March 23rd Pakistan
Day banquet. We are looking for a bigger building with a
longer lease and we are organizing fundraising drives in
the community to support a new location.”
In addition to the main anchors – Asghar, Farrukh
and Abbas – PACC has the support of several
Silicon Valley community leaders like Dr. Waheed Siddiqui,
Javed Khan and Tashie Zaheer who have consented to be on
the Board of Trustees and to help promote the center.
Pakistani American Culture Center (PACC) is a non-profit,
non-religious and non-political organization providing education
in Pakistani languages, history and culture to Pakistani
Americans and open to all communities. Please visit www.PACC-CA.org
for more information, or call (408) 426-4481.