Speeches from AISS School opening in Lahore, 2007 published online for the first time!
Dr. Kazmir Remarks Video
Speech by Mr. Shafiq Saddiqui
Hello Respected ladies & Gentleman
I always have a dream to do something for my birth land and to do such thing to make my birthplace the most successful nation in the world.
The Nation where each and every child is educated are the most successful nations in the world
Keeping this vision, I started this Mission to Open the American International School System in Pakistan
When I announced this project in USA, I have received so many offers from different countries to open such a school their, specially from our neighbor country, who offered me $1 piece of land to open school but I refused to do that and bought 2 Million dollar worth of land from my own, just to put my motherland on top of the world.
In my perspective, the only way to change the world is through education, education & education.
This institution is the gift from American Children to Pakistani Children, it’s not any body’s individual school, it’s our school, it’s the school of our children & it’s the school of this great nation of Pakistan.
Today also is the night that we are celebrating the national heroes of 2009. I am very honored to congratulate these heroes for their great commitments to this nation on behalf of American International School System.
We have among us the greatest hero of this time, whose heroic act didn’t just save so many human lives but also the image of this nation. He proved to the world that each and every Pakistanis are ready to fight the terrorism, even if we have to put our own life in danger. Salute to this hero, yes! I am talking about this Bus Driver who saved lives of our guest cricket team from Sri Lanka Mr.Meer.
We also have a successful doctor who left her successful and fruitful career from USA and came back to her birthday in order to serve her nation. She left everything behind just to be part of the success of this great nation. Thanks Dr. Amna Butter for your commitment to this nation and patriotism.
The Media always play a great role for the nation success and among us we have a fine young & true journalist a real hero, who unfolds the stories of human crises. His effort improved the health and education in Pakistan. His visionary mission for the betterment of health and education in Pakistan makes him the true fighter of the nation. He proved that still the power of pen is more than the gun. Thanks you Mr. MoM Ahmed for your great work.
Talking about young generation, we also have a great young leader among us, Mr. Hamza Shebaz. He is the voice of the youngster, the Future hope of educated Pakistan.
I Salute all of you, I hope everybody in the nation should follow your foot steps to make this nation the most successful in the world.
Thank you very much for your time. Let’s make this School the Best place for our Kids. American International School System
Speech by Dr. Munr Kazmir
I am taking this opportunity to welcome you our brand new Lahore Campus on behalf of the American International School System and to express the fact that this is a historic moment.
AISS embodies the American and Pakistani spirit at one of the most crucial times in the history of both our nations. I truly believe that education has the power to influence and shape future generations and consequently the world. We are now embarking on what will be a most challenging and rewarding experience. What we are doing has never been attempted in this region –a modern, state-of-the art facility designed to deliver a world-class education.
I welcome you and thank you in advance for your support of the children of Pakistan. AISS is committed to the global cause of building multi-national bridges across generations through education. Make no mistake: we have many challenges to face, but we will succeed because of the strength of our mission and the resolve of our teachers who understand that education is the great equalizer and liberator of all. We are building bridges between children, the children of America and the children of Pakistan. We are on a mission to close the gap and end the disparity between American children and those who are less fortunate educationally. Through this endeavor, we can bring a world-class system of education and build the true greatness of both our countries. We believe we can contribute to paving the way to a safer, more peaceful future for children all over the world, by bringing cultural understanding through education.
Without the support of the Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr. Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and the Ministry of Education we could not have accomplished our goal of building a world-class facility in 9 months. They are helping to make a difference. I commend them and the staff of AISS for accepting the challenge to serve the children of Pakistan and promise you boundless support and eternal friendship.
I must thank the Chief Minister Punjab and his unselfish help to the educational system. Initially, this high standard educational facility was supposed to be setup/established in New Delhi. After my trip to New Delhi I visited Pakistan and arrived at Lahore and discussed my trip to New Delhi and also my plans to setup a school there with the Chief Minister in a meeting. It was almost finalized but your Chief Minister convinced me and I decided to build this facility in Lahore, Pakistan. Buying the land here cost me more money than New Delhi but my love for Pakistan and convinced by Chief Minister and the government we overcame all hurdles. I worked very hard to build up this building and to provided every help that was needed to make this institution possible. This is a landmark between the two nations to built up a long-term relationship with the help of the children as it is believed that children can develop a long-term, healthy relationship. This idea was generated and strengthened by your Chief Minister. Your Chief Minister asked to setup a branch of AISS to help the Palestinian children, therefore, we decided to setup a school in Jordan to help the Palestinian refugee children.
We are partners with many prestigious universities and colleges in the United States. One of the most prestigious university in my country called the George Washington university established by the founder of my great nation is affiliated with AISS.
Mr. Chief Minister, I thank you for all your help and support to make this project possible. The construction for AISS provided economic opportunity to more than 300 people who worked real hard to complete this project in the record period of nine months. I must thank Mr. Mohammad Ali Naqvi, our VP Operations, for his sincere efforts and hard work, Miss Lisa Rizvi, our Director of Resources and Mr. Saleem Kiani, Director Admin who remained consistent. I also, thank Seema Development, USA. This is their first project outside USA. They did a great job by completing this project in record time. I extend my thanks to security guards, teachers, teachers aid, admin staff, housing keeping staff, gardeners, our architect and his team and everyone who is a part of AISS. Last but not the least, my good friend, Mr. Ahsan Baig who is our Honorary Chairman and has just returned after a successful bypass operation that happened in George Washington University. We wish him a speedy recovery. He’s here today with us.
I am pleased to thank Khateeb of Badshahi Mosque, Arch Bishop of Lahore and all the diplomats for gracing the occasion. I want to thank the ambassador Croquer and the Council General, Brain Hyeth and our current Ambassador, Annie Patrison. Their support cannot be ignored. I thank all the staff of the US Constellate.
Special thanks to my wife and children who have been with me through all the hardships. Unfortunately, there not here today as the children had to attend their school and college.
Thank you everybody for supporting us by your presence here on a Sunday morning. God bless you all and our two Nations.
Dr. Munr Kazmir, President and Chief Executive of AISS, Dr James F. Bonnell, Director of School, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I am deeply honored to have been invited to the inauguration ceremony of the Lahore campus of American International School System. It is indeed a proud moment for me to be part of the project which will surely add great value to elementary education in Punjab. Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Bonnell referred to Punjab’s vision of economic and social judgment, in his speech he spoke of the efforts of my government to improve the social environment by promoting education in the province. It is my belief that Punjab’s progress revolves around our human resource development in which the education sector must remain the center piece of public policy. May I add that in my vision, I see Punjab developing as a tolerant in a moderate society, this may appear to be a huge challenge given the current state of global politics, however, we must live in hope and continue to work for our ideas. I believe that education based on tolerance, moderation and the pursuit of excellence would be a major bonding block between the peoples of the world. To me AISS is one step forward in creating such human bonding. I am deeply touched at the gestures of the parents which choose to send their 3 year old child to the Lahore campus of AISS. Ladies and gentlemen it is this courage which will help the world in combating extremism and world to world the creation of a harmonious world. I am also happy to note that AISS plans to open its branches in four other countries, as it turns out, countries two of these are predominantly Muslim countries. It is a joined challenge of enlightened people to bring the diverse cultures and religions together so that the world of tomorrow becomes the world of peace; I therefore congratulate AISS on their missionary spirit. Dear guests, we are aware that creating public – private partnerships is an important milestone in my view of governance. We all know of times when government would keep the private sector at an arms length, to me this attitude was unacceptable given the potential of the private sector to partner with the government in progress and development. Ladies and gentlemen, I may add that our approach in this respect is holistic. We have created a partnership with the private sector in the development of industrial zones and the delivery of education and health services and the development of the services sector and in attracting foreign direct investment. The point is that there is no avenue in which my government is not willing to partner with the private sector. To fulfill our joint mission of development, therefore supporting AISS, was just a natural step for my government. As I stand in your midst today I pledge to continue my support to AISS in my official and personal capacity. Ladies and gentlemen allow me to appreciate the hard work put in by all of you to make AISS Lahore campus a reality in a very short period of time, my appreciation to the parents who had the vision to send their children to AISS. We can now look towards the teachers of AISS to educate and groom our children to face the future as natural leaders in their respective fields. May the Lord continue to shower his blessings on all of us; ladies and gentlemen I thank you.
Speech by Chairman of AISS
November 4, 2007
Thank you for this nice introduction, Dr. Affour. Your Excellency Ch. Pervez Elahi Chief Minister of Punjab, diplomats, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I welcome you all to the inaugural ceremony of this unique institution in Pakistan.
Mr. Pervez Elahi you are a man of vision. I believe your initiatives will lead this country to have the best educational environment, economic development and further opportunities for foreign investment. My family, my community and my friends salute your efforts.
Of course this building would not be standing here without the great support of Punjab Government and the Chief Minister of Punjab, who encouraged us to build this campus in this beautiful part of the City, Hurbunspura.
I would like to thank Malik Muhammad Bakhsh EDOR and his colleagues, Members of the Board of Revenue, DCO and the SSP (operations) for assisting me in getting this piece of land on payment of market price. I will be failing in my duty if I don’t mention Mr. G. M. Sikander who helped me selflessly.
As you stand here today and look at this beautiful campus, on which the construction started nine months ago, I would like to remind you that all of this would not be possible without the hard work and commitment of our young staff. I appreciate all of their hard work. I especially would like to thank our V.P. Operations Ali Naqvi and his staff: Saleem Kiyani, Lisa Rizvi and Farah Batool. I also thank the Town Nazim for his support.
I admire the efforts of the staff of SIMA Development Corporation in the USA to build a state of the art campus in the heart of Punjab.
I appreciate the efforts and hard work of the faculty of this school. I ask you to applaud all of the people who made this project possible. (Claps) Thank you for what you do for this institution, which will make a difference in Pakistan.
My Special thanks go to Dr. Bonnell, Director of the school, Dr. Affour, Lead Teacher, and all the teachers who are from the USA and Pakistan.
Lastly, I would like to thank the parents of our students who have confidence in us and have given us the opportunity to prepare future leaders from this institution.
My dear friends it may only be a beautiful building to you. But for me, this is a new beginning between our two great nations. The children of our two nations will develop friendships that start from the age of 3 but will last for a lifetime. This is the foundation upon which this school is built: to create better understanding and mutual respect.
As an example, we have a 3-year old American child who left his grandparents, his brothers, and his home to study alongside the children of this great nation. Mark would you stand up please.
And we have a Pakistani- American mother who brought her son all the way from Virginia to Lahore to be a part of this institution. Afsheen please stand up.
These are our young Ambassadors to Pakistan. And that is the beginning Mr. Chief Minister under your leadership.
I am pleased to inform you that in 2008 and 2009 we intend to open four more branches of AISS. Our next school will be in JORDON, and will provide education to Palestinian children. We wilt also open schools in Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. Mr. Chief Minister you can claim credit for this initiative.
However, the campus here in Pakistan will be our flagship and it will serve as an example for all other campuses. In this way, we will bring this educational vision to these nations.
I thank my wife, my children and especially my love for Pakistan, which will always encourage me to do more for this nation.
This institution belongs to everyone; the children, the parents, the staff, and the people of Pakistan.
Thank you all for joining me here and God-bless you and God-bless our two great nations.
Dinner Speech Dr. Munr Kazmir
I welcome you all this evening, joining me to celebrate ground breaking ceremony dinner of first branch of American International School System in the historical city, Lahore.
Lahore is my birth place and it’s my honor to participate in the ground breaking dinner ceremony of the School this afternoon. This is a direct foreign investment.
I am grateful for the tremendous support from the Chief Minister of Punjab Ch. Pervaiz Elahi and his passion for providing better educational opportunities and no child left behind.
His support in this project clearly shows that his vision is to promote education and welcome foreign investment.
My friend this is only beginning of educational investment from the US private sector in Pakistan.
I was also invited by Indian Prime Minster and his Minister of Education to establish similar school system in New Delhi and they offered allotment of land for the School against one dollar. Although this has cost me millions but I have selected Pakistan to open first branch in South Asia due to great policies of the President of Pakistan.
The road was very bumpy but journey is great because this is the future of children of our two nations to share the knowledge and ideas.
We plan to give 20 scholarships to the deserving children of the government employees and others.
The students will have opportunity to share experience with their age group in American Schools. Which will create a better understanding among the people of two countries.
I am sorry our Senior Director Miss Ansar and president John Allison will not be able to join us this evening but they are sending there best regards along with the board of directors of American School System.
My special thanks for G.M. Skindar Sb; without his help this project would have not been possible. My sincere thanks to Mr. Tar.,.Liqifsivaf,..1 Mr. Muhammaciljaz, Mr. Muhammad Buksh, Mr. Mushtaq Anjum, Mr. Mudassar, Rana Shaukat Ali , Mr. Khusi Nazir and all their staff who have worked so hard to take this start for the great institution.
Also my special thanks to Mr. Amir Zulfiqar and his staff.
My friends I will always remember all of you who did magic during this difficult time. Things move along for children of Lahore, you all have special place in my heart. History will remember you.
I thank my good friends Mr. Ahsan Baig and Ikram Baig who I know for last so many years and who have been convincing me to come to Pakistan and contribute in the development of Pakistan.
My special thanks to Muhammad Ali Naqvi who worked so hard and came to USA learnt about American School System to create better opportunity for the Pakistani youngsters. Ali you always amazed me. Thank you.
I thank you Mr. Khurshid Kighi who is working as administrator and provided a great suppott.
I think Miss Farah Batool will, continue to add value to this project with her knowledge.
I appreciate the support by Mr. Zeshan Architect for designing a beautiful building.
In the heart of the Punjab, an ancient Pakistan province that takes pride in a history of Mogul lords and ancient traditions, and whose culture defines what most Westerners know as “Pakistan,” only twelve percent of citizens have a favorable impression of the United States. The U.S. is viewed as an adversary of Islam, a belief often based on ideologies that have alienated youth not just from the West, but also from their own country and the citizens of Pakistan.
In the U.S., almost daily, cable news reports another bomb exploding in Peshawar — a drone attack along the Tribal Area border — or, a possible terrorist in Europe or the U.S., trained in a camp in Pakistan. Rarely do Americans hear of the struggles, frustrations, and fears of Pakistan’s youth. And equally rare is the opportunity for Pakistani citizens to learn about people in the U.S..
One man, a Pakistan-American, refuses to accept the status quo. “We must try to understand each other. It is essential to recognize our common interests and celebrate our separate traditions.” He has created a school in the capital of the Punjab that flies an American flag. The American International School System, AISS, a school filled with eager Pakistani students who are taught by young Pakistani and American teachers, learning about American freedom and democracy — expanding their vision of themselves in the world, and their commitment to Pakistan.
Historically, a primary role of education has been to transmit culture from one generation to another through a deliberate and planned process, passing forward the values, traditions, and knowledge necessary for the preservation of society. At AISS, teachers instill insights into both Pakistani and U.S. cultures. American values such as equality, individualism, and competitiveness are embedded in the curriculum, while preserving the traditional Pakistani values such as Burkhurdari (respect), Sabar (patience), Ilyhaaz (preserving others’ sentiments), and Ghairat (honor).
The challenge for faculty and families is to preserve these values and recognize the power of continuity in the preservation of society, while simultaneously inspiring youth to become agents of change.
But, Pakistan presents a dilemma — which Pakistan is to be preserved, and what should change? Pakistan has a multitude of political groups, and militant groups, each with its own agenda. Society is fragmented and many Pakistan youth in rural and urban areas are isolated, living a life of chaos, without sufficient skills to enter the workplace or the incentive to prosper, or to voice their concerns.
“Prosperity and freedom and peace are not just American hopes,” I said. “They are universal human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of Central Asia, we believe education provides opportunities and hope for the future, and the transformation of lives and nations.”
Founded in 2007, the American International School System is providing an American-based education to Muslim children. Through education, AISS hopes to help Pakistan become more prosperous, secure, democratic and better able to stand up against violence and extremism while transforming the American and Pakistani relationship, even if it’s only one student at a time.
Many of the country’s youth are isolated from others of their age, and have little contact with the larger world outside Pakistan. Such challenges require a long-term commitment to youth. If structural change in society is to transform Pakistan, and allow it to be at peace with its neighbors, it must emulate AISS, and begin by reaching out to the youth.
Fifty percent of the population is not yet twenty, and with more than two-thirds not yet 30 years old, they have few opportunities to engage in the community and fewer mentors to guide their development. Only 30 percent of the school children ever make it to high school. Only one-third can read a short story while half cannot even write a complete sentence. UNESCO tells us by 2015 that Pakistan will have the highest number of unemployed youth in the world, and by the year 2050, the world’s third highest population.
Within the challenge lies opportunity; Pakistan can redefine its future and the role of education in people’s lives. In order to do so, youth must be convinced of their own potential and that of each other, to not only survive but to adapt and learn. There is a growing awareness among provincial youth of the power of education, and, a growing momentum for change that lies with the elite young leaders of Pakistan.
I had said: “We’re taking our cause to the chalkboard… to foster a sense of critical thinking and confidence that’s required to develop leaders that consider multiple perspectives, value diversity and promote cultural understanding.”
Youth want to be educated, to have job skills and be competitive in the global marketplace. “We feel that through education we can get a lot done,” says the school’s principal Mark Rozic, who is originally from the state of Pennsylvania. “We’re demonstrating that the United States is a partner in their efforts to create positive changes in their country. And, we want to show that the American people are good people, hard working and that we are here to help in anyway that we can.”
The school’s target demographic is both the lower-income class and lower-middle income class. While it is a private tuition-based school, more than eighty-seven percent of students receive financial aid through the school’s foundation, The American International School System Foundation. Without this critical help, AISS could not reach and help the children in Pakistan expand their vision of themselves in the world.
“As Americans, we feel that we know the value of education, and sometimes we think it’s obvious to everyone else. But it’s not,” I stated. “We are doing our part not only to educate children at our school, but to educate as many as we can reach including parents, grand-parents and brothers and sisters, even if the only thing we are giving them is knowledge about the real value of education.”
The American Education model at AISS offers learning opportunities for both faculty and families that foster sustainable growth through out the AISS school system, while respecting and honoring cultures and traditions. The curriculum is structured just as it would be at a high-quality school in the United States. “We use an American curriculum and textbooks and teach in English,” said Principal Rozic. “We will give our kids a U.S. high school diploma, and enable them to go to colleges and universities around the world.”
“It’s our fervent belief that the work we are doing will strengthen ties between our two countries, not just today, but in the future,” I had said.
The American International School System was launched with just seven preschool and kindergarten students. Today there are two hundred students from preschool through eighth grade with enrollment expected to expand to a thousand students over the next five years. Education Specialist, Dr. Judith Findlay, collaborates with AISS to support the expansion of the AISS model of excellence in education. “This is an experiment in education, she states, that is unique in the Muslim World. AISS integrates community life into the life of each of its schools, and empowers students to become leaders and life-long learners. This is a worthy and obtainable goal.”
“Right now we are pre-school through eighth grade. Soon, we will be adding a high school,” said Rozic.
With a $10 million investment, AISS constructed one of the most modern state-of-the-art campuses in Pakistan. It is the first educational institution to be fully handicapped accessible. The expansive eleven-and-a-half acre campus provides resources for environmental science, agricultural research, sports, and a setting for study of the arts. The campus contains an amphitheater, swimming pool, cafeteria, a hi-tech auditorium, libraries, a main computer lab and computers in all classrooms.
In addition to regular classroom activities, the facilities are used for other advanced educational and civic activities sponsored by the school. These include on-going basic and advanced Professional Development for staff and teachers from the Pakistani school system as well as mentoring programs for children and adults. But, it’s what happens in the classroom that’s most important to the man who envisioned the American flag, flying each day in the heart of the Punjab.
“I want my students to believe that if they work hard enough, they can become anything and do anything,” I noted. “I want to challenge our students, ‘If your father is a gardener, then so what? You can still become an engineer, a doctor, a military officer or the leader of your country… That’s the American virtue we want to share. It’s a truly democratic way of thinking and it’s always at the forefront of our minds when we walk into school each morning.”