Saleem Abbas is the kind of student who sits in the front row. He's the first to try to answer a question. He eagerly repeats the Mandarin expressions that his teacher throws at the class: "Is this your family or not?" he repeats after the teacher. Then: "I have a mother." These lessons mean a lot to Abbas, a 17-year-old from a village deep in the Pakistani Himalayas. His father is a retired soldier, and his pension isn't enough to go around. Abbas, one of five siblings, lives with his uncle in a gritty town outside Islamabad, in a room that only contains a thin mattress, where he sleeps and studies. He calls his mother once a month — there's no Internet back home. "Every month, I ask my mother about her health," he says in broken English. "She cries,...
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In Pakistan, Learning Chinese Is Cool — And Seen As A Path To Prosperity