My journey with the British High Commission to Islamabad was one of my fonder memories amidst a hectic first year as a medical student at AKU. Perhaps my most unforgettable experience from the trip was our ride up the Margalla Hills to have dinner at the Monal. We began our ascent up around sunset - just when the sun began its descent down. I remember feeling as though I was racing the sun over the backdrop of the dimming Islamabad skyline. With each meter we ascended we seemed to be pulling back against the reeling sunset itself, fighting to keep its fading light alive for a few moments longer. It was beautiful.
In so far as the competition went it was an incredible experience to be a part of. I was certainly confident in how I had done and in the preparation I had put into. However, at the same time, the field of competition was profoundly talented. I remember listening to the other speeches and feeling humbled to just be able to represent Karachi at the national level against such a skilled talent pool. To hear my name get called up as the winner after such circumstances was a deeply satisfying feeling. You live for moments like those.
Winning the competition had quite a positive impact on me. The scholarship was worth a good amount and certainly eased the burden of tuition; however the relationships I built with the other competitors that weekend were priceless. Nearly a year later I am glad to still be in touch with a few of them. I also started to get calls from several media outlets after winning asking for interviews. I hope sharing my experience on such a stage encouraged someone somewhere to take up debating and to think critically about some of the issues we as a society face.
Looking forward to this year’s competition, I wish the competitors all the best. My only advice would be to acknowledge that what you are doing is something that is meant to be neither be easy nor comfortable. Embrace and trust that discomfort and it will stop troubling you.