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An interview with Gilles Pascal, Director AFK (Text and Video)

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NPTV:  Tell our audience about your early life.

GP: First of all Good Day. I was born in Montpellier, which is a city in the south of France. I had my primary, secondary and university education in the same city. This region is very dear to me. Both my parents were government servants. I spent perhaps not my best years but my youth in this city. I did scientific studies. At the end of my studies, I passed the competitive examination for becoming a teacher. I started as a primary teacher and then underwent training to become a trainer for teachers. I had a long career in education. It is 7 years since I converted to a career in francophony and in the Alliance Française network across the world.

After university, I passed the examination for entering what they call in France Teachers Training Schools which are the training centers for the future school teachers. I underwent both educative and practical training for becoming a primary school teacher. After having been a teacher for 17 years I became a master-trainer for training future school teachers. I served passionately. Teaching is something for which I have great passion. I remained in this career for a long time, about 25 years with motivation and passion because I am attracted by imparting education to children, helping them to acquire competency and knowledge.

NPTV: Whey you opted to be in culture?

GP: I started my career abroad quite a long time ago. I first started with Africa. I worked as a teacher in Nigeria. I worked for a French company. We had a school for children of French expatriates. I remained there for a few years. Then I worked as a teacher in China. After I returned to France for quite a long period, because my children were also studying in France. Then I chose to work abroad again. I worked in Mayotte which is a French territory near Comoros in the Gulf of Mozambique between Madagascar and South Africa. I worked there for training teachers at a university institute.

Then I wanted to remain in the Indian Ocean region. I went to exercise the functions of the director of Alliance Française in Madagascar in a city called Fianarantsoa.  In the language of Madagascar, it means the city where we learn good things. Madagascar is a country which is constituted of different ethnic groups. When the last queen governed the country from this city she gave it this name and the population had to be taught good things in order to behave as the dominant people. It is a city where there is a big Alliance France. It is practically the only cultural center of this city. Moreover, it imparts French language training to a large number of Madagascan people of all ages, because the Madagascan students have to undergo university education in French.

Therefore the Alliance Française of Fianarantsoa like all the Alliance Française of Madagascar has a role to play for the future of the young Madagascans. Then recently, about eight months ago I was named Director of the Alliance Française of Karachi. I am very happy to be in Karachi. Alliance Française of Karachi has exceptional premises. It has a real cultural influence in this city. I want to work for maintaining this influence, to develop it and to develop the teaching activity also. It should be known that all the Alliance Française across the world are not French establishments but associations under local law.

The Alliance Française of Karachi is a Pakistani association. I say that because what is important to understand is that an Alliance Française is at the service of its members.  The Alliance of Karachi is at the service of its members who want to learn French, participate in different workshops whether artistic, photographic, related to painting and sports, French expression, or who come to participate in cultural activities organized by Alliance Française. Certainly, we are here to promote Francophone culture, but one of our main missions is to promote cultural exchanges, to promote alongside Francophone cultural expression the Pakistani cultural expression as well as that of other countries.

NPTV: Why did you opt to come to Pakistan and how is your experience so far?

GP: I had not applied to come to Karachi. I had applied for other countries, but in the ministry of foreign affairs in Paris I was given a presentation on the Alliance Française of Karachi and it was proposed to me to come to Karachi. When I discovered this Alliance, I quickly accepted with great interest. Because I came to know of its activities and the premises that it possesses and the potential that it has to develop a cultural program of quality. I am here for nine months and I am very happy with my life here. I tell my friends and relatives in France who ignore what the life is like in Karachi, who always have apprehensions regarding security, that I am safe here and everything is all right. I invite all who want to discover Pakistan to come to Karachi. I have already invited my family members who came for vacations and who also came for cultural activities. I continue to do that. We need to recruit teachers from France and we succeed in recruiting them. We tell them that the life in Karachi is pleasant we feel good here.

I have a contract with the ministry of foreign affairs which is now called the ministry of Europe and foreign affairs. Normally, I have to remain here for four years. We will see what happens during these four years. During these four years, I hope to continue developing the Alliance Francaise. My mission is to develop the Alliance Francaise for all the staff whether teaching or administrative, to develop their motivation and competency. Karachi is a city of 25 million inhabitants. It is mainly an English speaking city. But we should be able to teach French to a great number of young and less young public. What I want first of all is to develop the teaching of French by increasing the number of teachers and students and then to continue to implement an open cultural program. We are going to continue to invite artists from France. But we are also going to develop a partnership with local festivals, to make it possible for local artists to perform at Alliance, not only the known and recognized artists. The mission of the Alliance is to facilitate the emergence of new talent and make it possible for the young artists to perform, the Pakistani artists to perform and to help in the cultural creativity of the people of Karachi.

I am interested in music indeed. I was born a little before the sixties. My youth was dominated by Rock and Pop music. I was never really a musician but I was tempted to be one when I was young. Music was always something important for me. I am not a specialist of classical music but I can appreciate the classical music. Working at Alliance I always take pleasure in listening to the artists who perform.  I always did a little photography. I am not an artist but the photography was present in all moments of my life. During about 10 years I was also press correspondent so I indulged in photography and editing. This is something which never quit me. I always kept a camera with me. I always took photos although with digital cameras we tend to take photographs all the time even if we don’t see and print them. Photography is a very important art for me.

I took lots of photos in Alliance when my family came here. For the moment I am waiting to discover outside of the city. But I did not get an opportunity to go outside the city. I am in a hurry to discover the surrounding rural areas and this vast country. I went to Islamabad by air but I am frustrated to have never been able to cross the country for discovering the landscape, the villages, the cities and the people who live there.

NPTV: Have you any plans to explore Pakistan?

GP: It is planned. But there are also lots of things to do at Alliance.  It’s true that sometimes one can regret to never have time to see the country in which we live and work. Surely I plan to visit the northern areas of Pakistan. I have a colleague and friend who is Director of Alliance Française Islamabad. He is of Pakistani origin. I won’t say he made me discover the mountains but we went to the foot of first hills of the Himalayan range. The project would be to discover them really.

Lahore is also a city which I would like to know and visit. Everywhere I will take the time to visit. It will be a very enriching moment.  Meet the people also and not only discover the landscape. Not only visit but know the people also and have exchanges with them. Since I was young and I worked in foreign countries it was always motivated to meet people, discover their culture and not only the landscape and the cities. It is true that by discovering other cultures we enrich ourselves enormously. Indeed I would like to discover the different cultures of Pakistan, certainly, the landscapes which I am told are magnificent but also the people.

The mother of my children has passed away but we have passed on to our children the desire of traveling and discovering other things than the country we find ourselves in. I have children who have always traveled. The youngest of my daughters is living in London for 7 years. I think that our children have picked up this taste of travel, discovery, and exchange.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Arts & Literature

Urduphiles observe death anniversary of poet Rais Amrohi!

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death anniversary of poet Rais Amrohi

ISLAMABAD: The 30th death anniversary of Urdu poet and psychoanalyst Rais Amrohvi is being observed today. 
Syed Muhammad Mehdi, known as Rais Amrohvi (1914-1988) was a noted Urdu poet and psychoanalyst. He was born on September 12, 1914, in Amroha, India. Almost all the members of his family were poets.
He migrated to Pakistan on October 19, 1947, and settled in Karachi. Rais Amrohvi was known for his unique style of Qatanigari (quatrain writing).
For decades, he penned quatrains for daily Jang. He also supported the Urdu language and the Urdu-speaking people of Pakistan.
He set up Rais Academy, which trained people for the improvement of their emotional and moral well being. He penned a number of books on metaphysics, meditation, and yoga. He was assassinated on September 22, 1988.

 

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Arts & Literature

208th death anniversary of Meer Taqi Meer observed today!

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KARACHI: The 208th anniversary of one of the foremost poets of Dehli School of Urdu ghazal Meer Taqi Meer was observed today. 

Meer, who wrote 13,585 couplets of ghazal, masnavi, qasida, rubai, mustezaad, satire is one of those poets who contributed enormously towards giving the shape Urdu is in today. 

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Arts & Literature

Fawad grieved over demise of senior journalist

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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Saturday expressed deep grief and sorrow over the sad demise of senior journalist Ilyas Shakir.
In a statement the minister said that his death was a loss for entire media community including Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors.
The minister said that services of the deceased journalist will be remembered for a long time. He prayed to Almighty Allah to rest his soul in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved family to bear this loss with fortitude.

 

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