A couple months from now television viewers in Pakistan, watching a prominent news channel, will see some faces and places of Niagara Falls.
A team from the Voice of America’s Pakistani division were in the city this week to shoot a documentary about the history and the future of the region and the waterfalls.
The producer, a Pakistani native who has lived in Washington, D.C. for four years, and a cameraman were shown the best of the region, including a dinner at the Como Restaurant, as well as visits to area attractions including the Maid of the Mist and Old Fort Niagara.
“Our program will air on a prominent news channel in Pakistan,” said Madeeha Anwar. “I actually want to show the softer image of America.”
One thing the team was surprised by was the large number of citizens from India and southwest Asia visiting and living in Niagara Falls. “In the past four years (living in the U.S.) I have not seen as many Indians as I have seen in the past two days,” Anwar said.
They also interview two Pakistanis who live in the area and work near the falls, including the owner of a Halal food truck and a taxi cab driver. “They do remember Pakistan, but they say life is much better here,” she said.
Also interviewed for the piece was Mayor Paul Dyster, during a filming which attracted a crowd of park visitors and inspired some Chinese tourists to ask the mayor to pose with them for a photograph.
“It’s one of the more interesting things I get to do as mayor,” Dyster said the next day, about meeting media and dignitaries and other visitors who are seeing the falls for the first time. “I’ve got to say, the excitement doesn’t really wear off for me.”
Dyster spoke on camera about the history of the falls, including its rise to national prominence as a provider of energy and its fall from grace with Love Canal and the challenging road back to prosperity.
“It shows that third world countries, just at the beginning of industrialization, are trying to learn from those of us further down the road,” he said. “And that’s a very positive thing.”
Area historians Paul Gromosiak and Chris Stoianoff were also interviewed for the documentary.
“I never years ago thought I ever thought I would have a chance to talk about my love for the history of this place to the world,” Gromosiak said.
Michelle Blackley, communications manager at the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp., was the pair’s tour guide.
“I grew up coming here and going to places like Fort Niagara every summer,” Blackley said. “To be able to show those places to other people and to the world is amazing.”