As the Pakistani performers traversed the stage with sweeping motions last fall, UW Bothell associate professor Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren looked on as more than just an audience member: She was creator and co-director of the production, as well as the first American cultural envoy to Pakistan in 30 years.
Sponsored by a partnership between the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Consulate in Karachi and Faisal Malik of Pakistan’s Thespianz Theater, Kochhar-Lindgren spent 11 days in Karachi last October, demonstrating the essential role the arts play in cultural diplomacy. Along with leading theater workshops and cultural discussions, Kochhar-Lindgren wrote and helped choreograph Water Calligraphy, a play focused on Pakistan’s water crisis, to illustrate how artistic performances can address social issues.
“What we got done in six days was pretty amazing,” notes Kochhar-Lindgren, who teaches within the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program. “It was a very nice moment for the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan.”
And by bringing a positive touch of American culture to Pakistan, Kochhar-Lindgren hopes her stay will encourage friendly exchanges in the future.
“Sharing culture is a way to build bridges,” she says. “I felt very honored, but know now there’s more that needs to be done.”—LH