AURORA TO PAKISTAN: A reporter’s close look at a complex nation

Aurora Sentinel reporter Quincy Snowdon is traveling with a U. S. State Department group of journalists to Pakistan for two weeks, as part of an international exchange meant to create better understanding between the two countries

EDITOR’S NOTE: Aurora Sentinel reporter Quincy Snowdon is traveling with a U. S. State Department group of journalists to Pakistan for two weeks, as part of an international exchange meant to create better understanding between the two countries. He’ll be reporting regularly during his adventure.

WASHINGTON DC  – Sept. 15 | Before receiving a very Pakistan-centric email on Aug. 3, the last time I’d thought about the southeast Asian nation was probably during one of my many summertime viewings of the super-realistic alpine climbing film, “Vertical Limit.”

Set in the Pakistani Himalayas, there’s a scene in which a Pakistani militant says, “Thee O’Clock. Time to wake up the Indians.” 

They proceed to blast the snowy snot out of a slew of hillsides with a series of comically massive explosions. (They’re quixotically obsessed with nitroglycerin.)

Following two years of frequently cancelled trips to Pakistan, that was where my most recent relationship with the distant state, like the majority of Americans, began and ended.

That changes this week. 

On Friday, Sept. 16 I’ll depart Washington D.C. for Islamabad through a journalistic exchange program coordinated by the U.S. Department of State and the International Center for Journalists. 

RECENT AP PHOTOS FROM PAKISTAN

Pakistan Eid al Adha

Pakistani vendors wait for customer at a cattle market set up for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Sept 7, 2016. Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, marks the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim -- Abraham to Christians and Jews -- to sacrifice his son. During the holiday Muslims slaughter sheep and cattle, distribute part of the meat to the poor and eat the rest. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Pakistan Eid al Adha

Pakistani vendors wait for customers at a cattle market set up for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Sept 9, 2016. Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, marks the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim -- Abraham to Christians and Jews -- to sacrifice his son. During the holiday Muslims slaughter sheep and cattle, distribute part of the meat to the poor and eat the rest. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Pakistan Eid al Adha

Pakistani vendors off load their cattle at a market set up for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Sept 9, 2016. Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, marks the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim -- Abraham to Christians and Jews -- to sacrifice his son. During the holiday Muslims slaughter sheep and cattle, distribute part of the meat to the poor and eat the rest. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Pakistan Eid al Adha

Pakistani vendors wait for customers at a cattle market set up for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Sept 9, 2016. Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, marks the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim -- Abraham to Christians and Jews -- to sacrifice his son. During the holiday Muslims slaughter sheep and cattle, distribute part of the meat to the poor and eat the rest. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Pakistan Eid al Adha

Pakistani vendors wait for customers at a cattle market set up for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Sept 7, 2016. Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, marks the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim -- Abraham to Christians and Jews -- to sacrifice his son. During the holiday Muslims slaughter sheep and cattle, distribute part of the meat to the poor and eat the rest. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Pakistan Eid al Adha

People pray to celebrate the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday at a mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. Pakistanis are celebrating Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice to mark the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim -- Abraham to Christians and Jews -- to sacrifice his son. During the holiday Muslims slaughter sheep and cattle, distribute part of the meat to the poor. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Pakistan Eid al Adha

Pakistani boys enjoy the last day of Eid al Adha holidays at a park in Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. Pakistanis celebrated Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice to mark the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim -- Abraham to Christians and Jews -- to sacrifice his son. During the holiday Muslims slaughtered sheep and cattle, distributed part of the meat to the poor. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Pakistan Eid al Adha

Pakistani women clad in burqas enjoy a ride on the last day of Eid al Adha holidays in Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. Pakistanis celebrated Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice to mark the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim -- Abraham to Christians and Jews -- to sacrifice his son. During the holiday Muslims slaughtered sheep and cattle, distributed part of the meat to the poor. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Yeah. This is happening. I still haven’t quite figured out how or why I qualified for this quite literal once-in-a-lifetime journey as a 24-year-old Coloradan barely two years out of college. It kinda feels like robbery. 

Whatever the reason — whoever was bribed — I’m going and I’ll be documenting my voyage on a blog that will hang off of the Aurora Sentinel website. It should be filled with some cut-rate photos taken on a point-and-shoot camera that our staff photographer Gabriel Christus reviewed with heavy skepticism; stories on how a 6-foot 5-inch white dude sticks out in most places outside of the U.S. and Northern Europe; and maybe, just maybe, some real-life journalism. Stories on how the Pakistani population in Aurora — there are about 220 Pakistani-born folks living in the burg, according to city documents — stories on the countries fluid borders. And hopefully, maybe, a story or two on rock climbing. 

Have I mentioned that I really like, “Vertical Limit?”

Stay tuned.

FOUR HEADLINES FROM AP THIS WEEK:

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Aurora Sentinel reporter Quincy SnowdonOriginally from Connecticut, Quincy Snowdon ditched the East Coast about six years ago for Colorado’s thinner air and higher mountains. He’s worked at the Aurora Sentinel in Aurora for two years and something like 68 days (but who’s counting?). He spends most of his days writing about spats on the local board of education and the city’s art scene. But he’s also been known to write about crime, food and the occasional business opening. His likes include climbing up Front Range rock piles, Barilla pasta and getting lost in YouTube worm holes — usually pertaining to bloopers from seasons 3-5 of the American sitcom The Office. His dislikes include deadlines, people who refuse to provide their last names and spotty WiFi connections.

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