Pakistani small-town youngster embraces great changes in life
"One day in 2016, I was sitting in my university library, reading a newspaper. A scholarship opportunity for learning Chinese caught my attention. That project was under the umbrella of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). I applied, and after many different scrutinizing processes, I got that opportunity. It was the first moment in my life when I realized that my dream had come true."
The 30-year-old Malik Usama Hamid comes from Sharakpur Sharif, a small city close to Lahore. "At an earlier age, I didn't have a big vision, I was just an ordinary student at a university 40 km away from my home. After graduation I got a job in the telecommunication sector as a paid intern. My salary was very low so I was looking for a good opportunity to grow up and earn more money. As I am a self-made person I want to contribute to my family income with my father."
A life changing opportunity
"As you know, working in the private sector is very tough. That was a very hard time in my life. I was paying all my own higher studies expenses, if my job targets cannot be met how could I afford my school fee?" Malik told Gwadar Pro.
"I am from a small town. People from small towns usually don't have as many opportunities as those from big cities. However, I got that scholarship opportunity with which my complete foreign studies expenses including living and travelling expenses were included. That was an amazing and life-changing moment at whchi I'll never forget," Malik said.
China has become a popular education destination for Pakistani students, according to China's Ministry of Education, the number of Pakistani students has risen in China with a series of preferential policies offered by the Chinese government after the launch of CPEC, a pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative. Many students have been facilitated to obtain scholarships under such a program.
"As we know, the Chinese language is one of the most difficult languages to master in the world. Reading, writing and typing in Chinese are all what I learned in China. There are many similarities between Pakistani and Chinese culture. I think a language acts as a bridge between two countries. To better understand each other's feelings, one of the nicest ways to make the connection stronger is to communicate in their language."
Touching on ways to learn Chinese, Malik said that he adopted a mode of learning, that is, to watch Chinese cartoons. "In Chinese cartoons they use very daily routine words that were with English and Chinese simplified Pinyin subtitles. So that makes it very easy to understand the Chinese language."
"During my education in China, I learned their language, culture and values which enabled me to understand them closely. It was a very proud moment for me after completing my degree. I was motivated by my teachers and classmates in Beijing Language and Culture University, and passed the level of language proficiency test HSK-6," Malik said proudly.
After two years of study in China, he returned to Lahore and worked as a full-time translator for Challenge Fashion. With his hard work, he gradually grew with the company from an interpreter to planning department manager, and now he works as an assistant to the director.
Serving the community
Challenge Fashion, a Shanghai-based company, has invested more than US$150 million in an industrial park on Lahore's border with Kasur. The industrial park is set to house state-of-the-art fabric units, dyeing facilities, and garment manufacturing units for exporting sportswear from Pakistan to the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and other regions of the world.
Having worked in different departments within the company, Malik has gained knowledge of the whole production process and management. One of his priorities is to reduce the communication gap between Chinese and Pakistani staff.
"I don't face much difficulty because I am well equipped with Chinese and Pakistani culture as compared with others. Our company is always ready for innovation and new things because it has a vision of becoming the best textile company. I am lucky to become a part of this vision and contribute further," said Malik.
During the pandemic, Malik said proudly that his company was always there to help the society as well as employees. "We gave many masks, personal protective equipment and other prevention materials to the government and society for the precautions of COVID-19. We also gave the full amount to every staff member and never fired anyone even during the toughest times. This is the vision of our company - caring for people and society."
“I really appreciate the effort of Ms. Karen, CEO of Challenge Fashion because she is a visionary lady and has sound experience of industry as well technology. She has so much plans which ultimately benefit the employees. My growth is also depend upon her guidance, and she contributes a lot in my professional life,” said Malik.
Challenge Fashion also plays a vital role in Pakistan's economy as well as providing lots of employment opportunities. Now, having worked for the company for about four years, Malik has become a key staff member. He's grateful to CPEC for the chance to realize his dream, and CPEC also awarded him for his contribution.