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Friday, January 12, 2018

Why World Fellowship? One Recipient’s Story….

Aalam is a World Fellowship Recipient from Afghanistan.  Her personal essay in her application is both inspiring and enlightening.  Think of her struggles to receive an education and whether, if we were in her shoes, we would persevere. Read what this amazing young lady has to say. 
Personal Essay of Aalam  
The desire to seek gender equality in my society comes from the grim experiences of my own life. I went through the depressing days of misogynist Taliban rule, 
forceful immigration, living in a different culture, repeated resettlements, and continued struggles in a strongly men-favoring society at the time when I was growing up. These experiences have shaped my person, my passion, and my objectives in life to focus on the study of politics and gender. 

The first ugly experience of discrimination came my way when I was in grade 2. The Taliban had taken control of the town after defeating the forces loyal to the Northern Alliance. We were all in the classroom when the head 
mistress entered our classroom horrified and in urgency. Her face was pale and she looked terrified. She called our teacher close to her and said something 
in her ears silently. While leaving the classroom, she asked our teacher  
to bring all the students to the basement quickly. Our teacher instructed us 
to leave everything behind and exit the classroom. We did not know what was  
going on but suddenly there were some horrifying sounds from the outside.  
We ran into the underground. The teacher announced with fear that Taliban had attacked and they had captured the city. We were terrified. Most of us were crying. We stayed in there for more than 3 hours when, finally, the head 
mistress asked us to leave the school immediately. We left school and that 
translated as the last day of school for girls until the removal of Taliban in 2002. 
Further turmoil following the Taliban take-over forced my family to immigrate 
to Pakistan. In Pakistan, as soon as I found the chance to go to school, I did. I completed my elementary school when my family decided to return to Afghanistan in 2002 following the establishment of the new government and system. 

The older I grew, the higher I got in my education, and the more discrimination 
was directed at me. After taking Kankoor exam (University Entrance Exam), I succeeded to enter Kabul Polytechnic University to continue my education  
in 2010.  After enrollment, I did not find the environment at the university constructive but rather disturbing.  It was exacerbated by the gender discrimination directed at me by my male university fellows. The boys from Badakhshan particularly would look down upon me because of my sex. In their opinion, I was dishonoring them because of being away from my home and studying together with boys at the university.  In fact, after a few days at the university, I encountered a boy who came to me to warn me that I had to be careful while socializing with boys of other provinces because my behavior would 
dishonor’ him and other boys from Badakhshan.  He said they made Nilofar quit university. Like me, Nilofar was from Badakhshan. She had started the university one year before I did. She was the only girl in her class but the boys from Badakhshan had warned her not to talk to any of her male classmates particularly from other province(s). She could not study with her classmates. Even her  
classmates would not talk to her because they had been warned by the Badakhshani boys. She could not overcome all the stresses, so she finally quit. 
I did not want to face Nilofar’s fate, so I decided to stay and face the challenges.  
However, their warnings never stopped coming. In the meantime, I kept looking for opportunities to continue my education in a friendlier environment. Therefore, before starting my second year at Kabul Polytechnic, I availed myself of the opportunity to go to the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek,  
Kyrgyzstan, on a fully funded scholarship to continue my undergraduate education there.  

1 comment:

  1. I am proud to be a member of DKG and proud that our Society supports women in all parts of the world.


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