Q&A with Tilyan Aslam


Tilyan Aslam was an entertainment writer for The Journal when she was an exchange student in 2020. Now she is studying business and politics at a university in Islamabad, Pakistan. She is also an aspiring author and continues to advocate women’s rights and empowerment.


Q: What years were you on The Journal?


A: 2020


Q: What was your role?

A: I was a reporter; a writer. 


Q: For what section?



Q: Can you tell me a little about your time on The Journal?

A: It was my first time doing some journalistic writing when I was on Journal. It was a bit different because when I started writing back in my home, I used to write opinions. So writing for entertainment was something very different; something for me to get out of my comfort zone and especially when I did interviews, when I went to people, it was something that I feel that asked me to get out of my comfort zone so that was something I loved doing during my time on Journal. I mean the family of Journal. I so admire Mr. K, so loving and kind, he is just so helpful. He is more like a friend than a teacher. Even all the people on the staff, the editor in chief and all the people there, they are just so kind and so loving. That is something I really love about Journal. I was apart of a lot of other things too. I was apart of the debate and speech team as well as other things too. But Journal was something like a family. I enjoyed coming to this class and writing and doing the work


Q: Did you get recruited by Mr. K or how did you find out about it?


A: I told my speech teacher, Mrs. Berghoff, How much I liked writing. She introduced me to Mr. K and then I told him this is my only year and I want you to give me a chance and he was very kind. So yeah, he did give me a chance and he asked me to show my writings. So he gave me this chance so I could flourish, and I told him that I really want to be a part of The Journal, that I really want to write for the newspaper. He was very kind and very humble, and gave me this opportunity.


Q: Were you a foreign exchange student? Can you explain how you ended up at Southport?


A: Yes. Through my exchange program I was placed in Indianapolis, in Southport, and my local coordinator of the program first finds schools for us, the ones that host us, and finds host families there. They found me a host family near the school, so Southport was near my host family’s house. So I ended up in Southport.


Q: So what are you doing today, and what have you been doing since you left Southport


A: When I left, I came back and did my senior year, like the high school senior year. Now I have started my university, I am doing my major in politics and history, something I really like and enjoy and I will come back to the U.S. this summer for a leadership conference. I have been advocating for the cause that I really enjoy. I still do journaling, I have my own book that I have written that will be coming out very soon. I do volunteering, I advocate for women empowerment, I fight for women. I do a lot of things and that is all because of my exchange program.


Q: Does The Journal have any specific influence of what you are going to study in the future, or did it help at all?


A: I joined Journal because I wanted to write my own travel log, I wanted to write my own book. Due to The Journal, I think I have learned a lot of things from Mr. K and from my staff writers, and I just learned while I was writing and reporting. I learned a lot of journalistic writing. That is where I was like, I should write my book and I started writing it. I just do whatever, I write on and off, I start writing a few things, just when I have the motivation. The Journal really inspired me to write my own book, to pursue writing as more than just a passion. This is because of The Journal, I think I owe it to The Journal.


Q: Do you have a title for your new book?


A: It is not only my book. The book’s name is “The Pine Trees Belong to Us.”


Q: Can you explain what it is about?


A: It is 21 co-authors that have wrote it. My portion is about women empowerment and about in my society how women are treated, and how women should stand for themselves. It is about spirituality, it is about society, it is about different things. My own book that I really want to write will be coming in five years. I have started writing more of a memoir, like an autobiography. I have started writing, but it is not a published thing.


Q: Where are you originally from?


A: I am from Pakistan. I am from Balochistan. I am a muslim and I am from Pakistan.


Q: Do you think your religion and where you came from has motivated you to write about women’s rights? 


A: My society and the norms of my society that my country follows, women are pretty much oppressed here. I grew up believing that women deserve less and women shouldn’t do certain things. I had this feeling that women deserved better, but when I came to the U.S., I realized that all the women in America were equal to the men, compared to the women in Pakistan. I felt like we deserved more. In America, the equality and the opportunity were way different than my country, so that is what motivated me even more to write about it, to advocate about it, to speak about it and to share about it. The society in my country had a big influence on my personal life, and a big influence on me to write about women empowerment.


Q: Do you have a favorite memory or a proudest moment?


A: I think the proudest moment of me in The Journal was when my opinion was published about my experience and exchange journey. That was one of the proudest moments I had because that is when I felt people would read about me and people will learn about my journeys. That is the proudest moment for me that was published in The Journal.


Q: Would you like to add anything?


A: I feel that I should as that The Journal was one of the best memories of my exchange here. Most of the friends and people, especially Mr. K who is like a mentor to me today, have helped me with the summer program that I am coming back to the U.S. I think The Journal gave me memories, teachers gave me memories and Southport gave me memories. I am grateful for that.