“Once I complete my undergraduate degree, I wish to pursue a full-time career in Astronomy. To date, I have been solely studying Astronomy on my own because there is no formal curriculum for it yet.”
These words highlighted the future aspirations and ambitions of young Roshaan Nadeem, an avid astronomy enthusiast. Roshaan has been shortlisted twice for the finals of the Astronomy Photographer of the year competition at the Royal Museum Greenwich in London, a feat only a few have managed to achieve. Roshaan, like his peers, is currently completing his primary education. However, what sets him apart from the rest is his unnerved passion and dedication to Astrology and that in an environment that presented significant roadblocks to his success.
Having been from a typical academic environment, he was unaware he would fall in love with Astronomy and would later wish to dedicate his life to it. Having been supported and nurtured by his 5th-grade instructor, he was introduced to the wonders of Astronomy post a session with the Lahore Astronomical Society. Here he first explored the wonders of astronomy, which marked the start of his journey to pursuing it as more than just a hobby later. Roshaan was keen to mention how he was lucky to have been under the tutelage of such an instructor who honed in on his interests and helped him explore his curiosities. He further commented on how this is astonishingly rare in the status quo of our educational populace. Another aspect he believed helped and empowered him to keep exploring was the support from his family and friends. Particularly his grandfather, who was the one to buy him his first telescope. The culmination of the supportive environment he was in, and his sheer dedication helped him bloom his dream.
Picture of the Annular Lunar Eclipse captured in Lahore taken by Roshaan
After some time of self-reflection, Roshaan felt the need for further assistance to delve deeper. He mentioned how he struggled to find avenues easily to help him learn more. This struggle led him to believe how the youth seldom gets opportunities for formal exploration of their talents. He considers schools’ sole focus to being predominantly catered to the standard curriculum of subjects and extracurriculars. This lack of focus, at times, can be the factor that sets the breaking point of demotivation in oneself, risking one feeling pressured to discontinue their journey of self-exploration. He further discusses how this gap further intensifies when we progress in our respective academic journeys, as the pressure to perform well in academics increases ten-fold. The added stress, in turn, makes it difficult to identify priorities, especially without the backing of a formal support organization. Fortunately, this was not the case for Roshaan, as he could align himself and join the prestigious Lahore Astronomical Society (LAS), an organization aimed at assisting astronomy enthusiasts such as Roshaan. LAS helps enthusiasts by organizing monthly panel talks and much more to spread awareness about Astronomy.
Inside the Lahore Astronomical Society (LAS)
Post his discussion on his current state of affiliation with astronomy, Roshaan emphasized that he believes that others in similar situations should strive as he did. He is an avid believer that the path to self-exploration is a long and unwinding journey that requires the enthusiast’s strenuous effort, especially in a challenging environment such as Pakistan. In Pakistan, there currently is a worrying absence of formal channels for one to learn about their passions and exercise their abilities for exploration. He recaps his journey where from receiving his first telescope from his grandfather to then buying more advanced versions himself, he persevered. As a result, he strengthened his will enough to pursue this as a career in the future formally. He wishes the best to students with a similar vision. He hopes that our teaching fraternity realizes the existence of this gap soon and works to bridge it. This effort, he believes, will help our youth become more equipped with the support and avenues to explore themselves.