Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NED Convention 2011: Glitz, Glamour, and a lot of Substance

It has become an annual pilgrimage, an event that draws NED University graduates from all over North American and a few even from as far as the UAE and the land of their alma mater. The event is called the NED Convention and it rotates around the US cities. This year's annual NED Convention was arranged by the NED Alumni Association of Tri-State and was held at the Hilton Parsippany in New Jersey, October 7 through 9.

Whereas the convention festivities began Friday night, on the arrival of most of the out-of-town attendees, and ended Sunday morning, the main program was on Saturday. On Saturday the morning session provided opportunities to discuss new ideas, reaffirm identities, and understand how life can be made more meaningful.

Salman Siddiqui, founder of Leo Sunergy, a solar energy company, spoke on the importance of using renewable energy sources. Siddiqui proposed installing a 2.3 MW photovoltaic plant at the NED University to make the institute energy independent.

A panel comprising of Husam Ahmed, Khalid Mallick, Salman Siddiqui, and Safwan Shah discussed the 'Challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship.' The discussion was moderated by Tanweer Mallick.

Dr. Syed Firasat Ali, ex-Mechanical Engineering professor at the NED University, currently teaching at the Tuskegee University, Alabama, spoke on the role of NED alumni in addressing contemporary aspects of their professions.

A discussion on 'NEDians as a force of change in social and political arena' conducted by Amir-ul-Islam, President and CEO of Jersey Precast Corporation, had Akbar Ansari of Procter & Gamble, Anwer Hasan of Maryland Higher Education Commission, Abul Islam of AI Engineers, and Khalid Mansoor of Universal Construction Resources as the discussants.

Evening keynote at the NED Convention 2011 was given by Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations, Abdullah Hussain Haroon. Ambassador Haroon's message was bold and challenging. He said the US was going through uncertain times--Pakistan too was going through rough times; when uncertainly ruled everywhere, Pakistani-Americans should think about going back to their country of origin, to build their fortunes while building their country.

Ashraf Habibullah is no ordinary speaker. This NED graduate and CEO of Computers & Structures, Inc., takes you back to yonder years by describing the environment of the old NED campus, by humorously reminding you of the basic needs you had in your college days, and by singing TV commercials and popular songs of that era. Ashraf Habibullah's speech at the convention was as entertaining as a convention speech can possibly be.

Behind every annual NED convention go ungodly hours of meticulous planning and days of hard work put by an army of volunteers. At the NED Convention 2011, recognition awards were given to Arshad Rizvi, Shakeel Ahmed, Anas Hashmi, Mubbashir Rahman, Rashid Ali Baig, Amir-ul-Islam, Tanweer Mallick, and several other people whose dedication and hard work made the Parsippany convention a successful program.

It doesn't happen often that a thespian keeps redefining himself to remain in demand as he progresses through years. Actors should learn from Zia Mohyeddin how to be successful at such a transformation. Turning 80 in a couple of years, this theater and film actor of yesteryears now uses his deep theatrical voice to recite fine Urdu literature and enthrall crowds. At the NED Convention 2011, Zia Mohyeddin did something new: besides reading masterpieces of known writers, Mohyeddin read a piece he himself wrote.

People running the show at the NED Convention 2011 were mostly graduates from the 70s and the 80s. It was logical for them to bring singers who were popular in those decades. Besides local artists who sang old songs, two singers who can arguably be called the pioneers of pop music in Pakistan gave enchanting performance at the convention. Muhammad Ali Shehki has resurfaced on the Pakistani music scene after a gap of many years. At the Convention 2011, Shehki sang a number of his memorable songs and made people dance in joy. If Alamgir looks years younger than his age--and despite his failed kidneys--it is for a very good reason: he tremendously enjoys what he does; while performing on the stage, Alamgir sings and dances and gets totally absorbed in the magic he creates. Alamgir's performance at the convention included his popular songs requested by the audience, and a mesmerizing 'Jugni' to end the program.

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