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Having lived in Pakistan for a good portion of his life, Cheshire High School junior Hasher Nisar knows what it is like to live in a country where freedom and rule of law are not as respected as one would like.
That's why the teenager has such an appreciation for the United States of America, and why his recent acceptance into a prestigious national program means so much.
In March, Nisar will take part in the U.S. Senate Youth Program in Washington, D.C. He will venture down to the nation's Capital for more than a week, where he will meet some of the most powerful individuals in the world and learn, up close and personal, how government runs at its highest levels.
“I am excited,” said Nisar. “I just want to improve my perspective of how politics work and see how government runs.”
Nisar was approached last year by a teacher who asked whether he would be interested in applying for the program. Two students from a high school can be submitted for consideration and Nisar's teacher believed he had a chance to be selected.
After filling out a resume and writing a detailed essay, Nisar was chosen as one of the finalists for a spot in the program, along with another Cheshire student.
As a part of the selection process, Nisar had to submit to an interview, something he admits was nerve-wracking.
“It was scary,” he admitted. “They really do try and intimidate you. They want to see if you can handle yourself in D.C.”
The questions forced Nisar to think quickly and answer effectively, given little time to prepare. One question posed to Nisar asked the student to imagine himself in an elevator when another person enters. That person, who is not a native of the United States, then asks Nisar what makes the United States so exceptional. Nisar then has to answer as effectively as possible before his floor comes up, or roughly in 90 seconds.
“I was thinking 'you want me to do this in 90 seconds?'” Nisar related. “It was difficult, but they want to make sure you can think on your feet.”
Nisar did more than answer correctly. He impressed his interviewers so much he was chosen as one of two representatives from Connecticut to the program.
“It is really an honor,” he stated.
Nisar spent much of his life living in Pakistan, moving to Cheshire only two years ago. As such, Nisar was able to draw on his personal experiences to talk about how different the two nations truly are.
“It has really helped me to compare why the U.S. is so great,” said Nisar. “The U.S. has great leaders that created a list of laws that they follow. That makes a big difference.”
As a part of the program, Nisar will have the opportunity to meet several different political figures, including the two senators from Connecticut, Independent Joseph Lieberman and newly-elected Democrat Richard Blumenthal, a Supreme Court justice, a foreign diplomat, and, perhaps, President Barack Obama.
“I know he came out and met with the group that went last year, so he might be there this time,” said Nisar. “I am most excited about the possibility of meeting the President.”
Along with meeting dignitaries, Nisar will also have the chance to visit some sites in D.C., including the White House and the Capitol Building. There is also a chance that students enrolled in the program will have the chance to tour the Senate floor.
“That would be terrific,” said Nisar. “I would be really excited to get a chance to go down into the well of the Senate.”
Students from every state in the nation will be taking part in the program, meaning Nisar will have the opportunity to meet students who are as interested in politics as he.
But, what the teenager is most looking forward to is the educational opportunity this program represents.
“I will be meeting people who are actually running the country,” said Nisar. “I want to see how government works and come back and use that here.”