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Humans of Oxford: The man from 7,000 miles away

By Megan Zahneis, For The Miami Student

Farooq sits alone on a Friday evening, studying on a bench in a quiet wooded area of campus as sunset approaches.

A binder rests next to him, and he strokes a neatly trimmed beard, twirling a yellow pencil as he speaks.

He has been in Oxford since June, and expects to stay for two years while he completes his degree.

Then, he will make the journey back home, a 17-hour flight that spans 7,176 miles and nine time zones.

He will reunite with his two young children, his wife, parents, brothers and sisters.

And he will work.

He will use his American degree in educational psychology to educate teachers back in Pakistan, in a place called Azad Kashmir, on the fringe of India's border.

He's here because of a contest.

One of 27 winners culled from 10,000 entries, he was selected to further his education in America. The U.S. government would foot the bill.

He is a serving person, he says. His duty is to his people, and he yearns for the day he can return home and put his knowledge to work, offering higher education to more Pakistanis.

"These boundaries divide human beings," the man says. "But human beings are the same. People in Pakistan, they have two eyes, one nose, one mouth, two hands. The same as anyone else in Canada and America and the UK and Brazil."

"People are the same. Their feelings are the same. Their sentiments, their emotions, their habits of living. People all over the world make houses, they sing songs, they cry on woes and worries."

Someday, he hopes, his country will be okay.

Until then, he is a man sitting on a bench in a quiet college town in southwest Ohio.

A man with a binder, a pencil and a dream.