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FAUAF is proud to introduce the One Student, One Story at a Time campaign — a series of essays that considers the personal journeys of several AUAF students. Each student tells their story with sincerity, describing their background, their often-times harrowing journey of leaving Afghanistan, and their steadfast commitment to continuing their education.

Through these stories, we are reminded of the incredible resilience of the AUAF community and that education will prevail.

Please note that names and various details have been altered to protect students.

Sahar’s Journey

Not a global pandemic nor restrictions on women’s education can stop Sahar from empowering Afghan girls. Sahar is a sophomore at AUAF currently taking courses at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Although Sahar had to flee the country that she loves, she remains dedicated to educating girls and young women back home in Afghanistan. 

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Fahim’s Journey

Fahim has been forced to sacrifice most of what he holds close. One of these sacrifices has been applying the skills learned at AUAF to an innovative business he had planned to open and operate in Afghanistan. Fahim has long been interested in Afghanistan’s dry food industry, and when he noticed that most of Baghdis’ pistachios go to waste, he saw a business opportunity that would not only benefit farmers but also reduce waste and help Afghan buyers. Two years ago, he even made a trip to Baghdis to speak with some of the province’s pistachio farmers and gain a better understanding of why there is so much waste in the industry.

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Hadiya’s Journey

Seconds into meeting Hadiya, it is abundantly clear where her passion lies. Her eyes lit up with determination when discussing education and our conversation often circled back to children’s learning, her ambitions as a businesswoman and leader, and her experiences at AUAF. The American University of Afghanistan, Hadiya said, was a place she considered to be her second home. However, with just two semesters left before graduating with a degree in business, Hadiya’s life in Afghanistan was upended.

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Zarina’s Journey

Video calling from the room she shares with six of her fellow female classmates at a U.S. base currently housing tens of thousands of refugees, Zarina shares a bit about herself and her time at the American University of Afghanistan. Zarina came to AUAF to receive a world-class education and accompany her older sister returning to school after recovering from injuries caused by the 2016 complex terrorist attack on the university’s campus.

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Daana’s Journey

It was the beginning of the semester several years ago. Daana’s face lit up.  Her light green eyes whirling with excitement as she recounted the moment, she learned of her admission to AUAF. Similar to so many stories of young Afghan women, Daana’s life journey has been defined by periods of debilitating challenges and often insurmountable obstacles that are outweighed by perseverance, determination and triumph.  Listening and speaking to Daana, one is immediately struck by her poise, resolve, intelligence, and maturity well beyond her then tender 24 years of age—a constant reminder of the amount of life that she has lived in this short time.

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Maryam’s Journey

Continuing her education was something Maryam was not willing to sacrifice. With the help of Fulbright, Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute, and AUAF, Maryam left behind her home country of Afghanistan, her family, and everything she knew.  Although unimaginably traumatic, she said leaving Afghanistan was necessary because “the best way to become a leader is through education.” This strong belief has driven her to become the extraordinary woman she is today.

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