As our plane started approaching the runway at Austin Straubel International Airport, my eyes fell on the land below that was mostly covered with thick foliage and lush green farms, justifying the name of my host city – Green Bay.
I had read about the city prior to my arrival, but was not sure about how life in Green Bay would be like. Coming from a bustling metropolis — Peshawar — noise and crowds is something I was surely expecting from this city of Wisconsin state.
I kept looking out the cab window, searching for crowded kiosks and bus stands, but to no avail. The quiet streets and empty sidewalks of Green Bay started changing the definition of a city that was etched in my mind. This city by the lake is home to people who appreciate serenity and at the same time like to enjoy the natural bounties they are surrounded with.
But on my first weekend in the city, I could see people gather at city-deck to enjoy live music with food. On the other hand roads could be seen with cars having wheeled boats tied to them to be dragged to other destinations like Sturgeon Bay and Door County.
Although Green Bay and Peshawar are cities of different nature and structures, I could not help but draw similarities between the two when it came to weekend activities in both the cities. People spending their day by the bay took me back to my home city Peshawar where the bank of Sardaryab River serves as the same recreational spot.
The other factor which took me by surprise was the nearly empty seats in public buses,coming from a place where it is even difficult to find a spot to stand on a public bus it was not less than a wonder for me to see a passenger or two apart from me and my colleague from Pakistan. But it took me some time to understand that public transportation is not used frequently by locals as every household in Green Bay has two cars on average.
Apart from enjoying comparable seating place in public busses and daily drive along the bays & harbors I enjoy the fresh cheese that came from the dairy farms that dot the outskirts of Green Bay.
The third highlight of my walks across the city was the influence of American football team “Green Bay Packers” I could see in the every nook and corner of the city. While walking around in the city one can witness the influence of the Packers all around. No matter where I went, be it for food at any restaurant or during the workday in an office, I found something or the other related to Packers. This gives an impression that the people here not only love the game but also own the team in it’s true sense. Therefore it was not surprising for me when I learned that around 22000 residents of the area own a share of the Packers. Sadly, I will not be able to witness the football season as it will begin in August and I leave for Pakistan before that.
Nevertheless, I can see how preparation for the tournament has started, in the form of changing colours. For instance the colour of metro buses has been changed to green.
But Green Bay does not solely celebrate home team the people also know how to welcome visitors.
Green Bay and other cities of United States are not like the negative images of the country shown on television screens.
During my four weeks stay in the US, I visited Washington DC, Milwaukee and Chicago, apart from staying in Green Bay, but in all of the places I did not witness anything that would keep me from coming again. Wherever I went, I was greeted warmly and welcomed. I found Americans very welcoming, polite and loving.
As per my observation, the national medium is not considered the sole source of information, contrary to what happens in Pakistan. People mostly depend on local media for news. Local media in the US is divided into 210 media markets, each representing a specific city and its surroundings.
But in Pakistan, local news channels are not commonly watched. The country’s two major cities, Lahore and Karachi, have a couple of local news channels, some of the other cities also have regional language news channels, but most of the information they air is national news.
However, in the US 80 percent of the news from local channels is on area specific issues.
Besides coverage, as far as the work of a journalist is concerned, I noticed the ones in US multi-task i.e. they handle the camera, report a story also do the finishing work. In Pakistan, on an average day the crew sent on an assignment consist of a reporter, camera-person, driver and it for the final work, a nonlinear editor.
Nevertheless, being in a different newsroom was an altogether new experience that I am glad to learn from. It was also a chance to view the system of work back home and to compare the practices, something that will be interesting to share with my colleagues there.
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