Name, surname: Zeshan Ghumman

 Country of origin: Pakistan, Sialkot  (City in the east of Pakistan – At the border between Pakistan and India)

 Currently: studies at the University of Latvia (3rd year Rezident of Family Medicine).

 Hobbies: cricket

 Lives in Latvia since November, 2009 

What were your first feelings arriving in Latvia? 

I brightly remember the Trip from Riga airport on Bus 22 – I enjoyed it. You have a fantastic center of old city. However, when I arrived at my tentative living place, the student hostel Prima on Rēzekne street (outskirts of Maskava) there was a huge contrast. In the hostel lived nice people but feelings were not nice when going out from the hostel. 

Name, please, three things that you miss most of all living in Latvia? 

I`m from a very nice city of Pakistani – Sialkot, Famous for its Surgical instruments and sports manufacturing Industries. 

There is a big diversity of people. More than nine years I am away from my homeland (six of which I spent in Ukraine) and, definitely, I miss my family, my home, friends. In the beginning when I started to study in Ukraine it was a very difficult time for me, I missed a lot my sister`s made food. When I began to live outside home I had to prepare the food myself and it was not easy, I had to learn a lot. Now it is easier.  

I`m fond of Latvian „Lido” cuisine. There you can always get something tasty, the food is like at home made.

Have you thought to learn Latvian?  

I have learned at informal Latvian language training courses organized by the Riga City Council and at intensive courses when residency started in Latvia. I understand Latvian and I can also speak in Latvian. In Ukraine I mostly spoke in Ukrainian language that is little bit  similar to Russian language though I lived in the region of Ukraine (Western part of the Ukraine) where the dialect is different. I can talk to my friends in Latvian but it is difficult for me to speak in official Latvian language. Currently, at my practice at hospital almost every second patient speaks Russian. To improve my Latvian sometimes I watch Latvian television channels.

How do you see your future and to which country it is associated? Will you stay in Latvia?

I see several opportunities – I will send job applications to several countries where communication language is English, for example, England, Ireland, Canada etc.

In Latvia it is rather difficult because, at first, there is a language barrier till now. Secondly, Latvia has a lot of doctors therefore there is no demand for the new ones. Medical system like in other European countries is very good. For example, in Ukraine or Pakistan there is sharply different health care system. 

How would you respond to news in media that regularly reflects Pakistani as the worst place on the world for women to live – forced marriage, honor murders etc.? 

Many have asked me these questions and I`ve been tired of replying. In my family many women are doctors. My sister is a doctor, the sister of my father has her own business, the father of my mother was a doctor and my mother worked with him as his assistance. In our family women are highly educated. 

I do not deny that such things happen in my country but it is only a small part of Pakistan (about 5 -10%), predominantly – at the border area between Pakistan and  Afghanistan where are living narrow-minded, uneducated fundamentalists that cultivate their stereotypes, and to hide their sins they misuse the religion, as they don’t understand the real meaning of Islam.  Islam means ‘Peace’.

When I am in Pakistan I do not hear about such things. Most often it is reflected here. Actually people here worry much more about Pakistan, and rightly so because the media gets a lot of money by showing such negative things only, and at the same time all the good things are never shown in the media. Also media and policy play here a role – mainly negative news and messages from Pakistani are being transmitted. 

Yet I have met also people from Latvia who have been in Pakistan and they like it very much. Pakistan is a very beautiful land. 

Have you had any stereotypes about Latvia before you arrived here? 

It was interesting. When I wanted to come to Latvia my friends were surprised – why I chose Latvia? Small country, cannot find a job, low wages for doctors, bad attitude towards students of other origin… Actually I had a clear aim and the reason why I choose Latvia. Even in the beginning few months some Latvians also ask me that why I came here….? I knew the answer and I wanted to take the chance, and later I realized that it was one of the best decision I could ever made. As for me it worked out in a positive way.

I realized that it becomes  easy if you have the clear aim that where you are going to. I came to Latvia to get education and the other things were not important for me yet . According to Latvian legislation currently I`m allowed to work 20 hours a week.

What do you like in Latvia? 

Latvia is a nice land. I like Old Riga a lot – especially during summer .And I am satisfied with the system, for example, police.  If we speak about studies, I also like it. Almost every second or third week I have to change the place of practice. Supervisor introduces me with my colleagues, I am welcomed, and I like it because in that way I introduce with many people.

Have you faced different attitude due to your origin? 

One case I can mention – On the very first day of my Residency, when my professor (the best professor I know) introduced me to other doctors during first practice times, from one doctor I felt negative attitude because of my origin. As she said something bad towards foreign students. Professor became angry at this doctor. This was the only case.  

One more case is related to my current living place. Usually people who smoke, drink and use drugs used to gather by my balcony at evenings and using the hidden area from the street as a free toilet place. I am greatly annoyed with this situation, and I could not get any help from any where.  After several such episodes I called the police.  Following this I felt very hostile attitude, these people swore in Russian language, also about me and my origin. 

Do your parents accept your union with Yulia? 

Yes Of course, every thing is fine regarding this, just  in the beginning it was not easy for them. But I am already 31! My wife Yulia communicates with my relatives and sister via Skype in english, they understand well each other.

Do you plan to engage in NGO activities?

Yes, arriving to Latvia I offered my services and wanted to gain experience in one NGO but there was no feedback therefore cooperation did not established.   

I was the Vice President representing my Pakistani community in Ukraine, it was also Non-governmental. When I lived and studied  in Ukraine I organized various cultural activities to introduce Ukrainian people with Pakistani culture, music, songs, food etc. In Latvian there are far less Pakistani people than in Ukraine.

Now during my free time I promote cricket in Latvia in cooperation with the Latvian Cricket Federation. Cricket is a multinational game. Currently in the National team of Latvia cricket are playing Pakistanis, Indians, Sri Lankans, also one Latvian Jānis is in the team. I have dream that the Latvian Cricket Federation becomes a part of the International Cricket Council as it would pave more opportunities for the team. 

June 28, 2013
by NGO Latvia
(4) Votes

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