Living Well

For Pakistani-American Muhammad Najm Akbar, 66, Monterey is a paradise, to which he happily migrated to in 2005. Since then he has been living here, with his wife, right next door to Monterey Peninsula College. Akbar grew up in Multan in rural Pakistan in a secular family, speaking both Urdu and Punjabi.An ambitious student, his first school was in a “terrible shape,” he says, but with a good headmaster. In fact, he and other students helped to build the school. Akbar landed a good job as a diplomat, then he was sent to Boston to study at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he got his master’s desgree.After that, his first assignment was Paris and it was love at first sight. His French friends are furious with him that he didn’t choose France as his second homeland, because by 1983,Akbar had started to think about moving to the West for good. His first destination in the U.S. was Monterey itself. He came to teach Urdu and Punjabi at the Defense Language Institute,“13 years of joy,” he says. (He was let go after some Middle Eastern languages were removed from the curriculum.) But Akbar had zero intention of leaving his Monterey paradise. He realized he would like to become a teacher of history and continue to work with students so in 2019, he went back to school for a teaching degree from CSU Fresno, finding learning as fascinating as always. Now he teaches history at MPC, right next to his house. When asked if he misses Pakistan,Akbar says:“What I miss changes over time. I will never forget this turning point when I started to live in a democracy. Nothing is more beautiful than those moments when I learned that I don’t have to live in an authoritarian regime.” Teaching American history is not easy, he says. He is not unrealistic about U.S. foreign policy but believes that some historic forces and processes are too big for people to stop. No matter what, he believes in the American Dream because he has lived one. Akbar published My Life: Living Through Pakistan’s Traumas in 2010 (the book is available online). He is also fascinated by the Indo-Fijians, especially the Indian labor in Fiji and the impact of the caste system on Indian forced laborers and their descendants. When it comes to life outside of his work, Akbar is involved in the Gentrain Society, a volunteer auxiliary organization to MPC. He says his best moments in life are the long walks he enjoys on the beach. Natural Born Historian This MPC history teacher pursues the American Dream and finds paradise in his adopted home. By Agata Popęda DANIEL DREIFUSS Meals on Wheels of the Monterey Peninsula Community Center Comidas Sobre Ruedas del Centro Comunitario de la Península de Monterey • Lunch program, M-F 11:30am12:30pm • Fitness, health, and nutrition classes • Computer loans and tech coaching (assistance with personal devices such as phones and tablets) • Information and Referral to community services • Produce market on Wednesdays from 8:30am-10am • Programa de almuerzo L-V 11:30am-12:30pm • Clases de acondicionamiento físico, salud y nutrición • Préstamos informáticos y asesoramiento tecnológico (asistencia con dispositivos personales como teléfonos y tabletas) • Información y Referencia a servicios comunitarios • Mercado de productos miércoles 8:30am-10am M-F /L-V 8am-4pm 831-375-4454 Pacific Grove San Andreas Regional Center (SARC) Centro Regional San Andreas (SARC) • Services for individuals with developmental disabilities including Service Coordination, Information and Referral. • Servicios para personas con discapacidades del desarrollo que incluye Coordinación de Servicios, Información y Referencia. M-F/L-V 8am-5pm 831-900-3636 Outreach and Information Services Servicios de Divulgación e Información 98 The Best of Monterey Bay® Living Well 2024-2025