Sometimes many students may limit their knowledge to textbooks, chalkboards, and classrooms. However, I believe there are certain aspects that are much more valuable to learn than the content of textbooks. I am a student who always tries to get an A and having a B on my transcript is unacceptable. However, I also know I cannot measure my knowledge based on the school transcript. Sometimes I need to experience, touch, see, communicate, and risk to learn. Therefore, I love programs that give students the opportunity to study abroad and enrich their capabilities.
I am very grateful to AGFAF (Afghan Girls Financial Assistance Fund), the program that gave me the opportunity to discover a new world. Going to United States has not only provided me a higher education, but helped me to expand my visions and experiences. Although some people may think that going to the United States is just about having fun, sometimes I had bitter experiences too. However, I am lucky to have had them because when we experience harsh times, we will appreciate the happy moments more. First, it was very hard to communicate with Americans because I was not adequately familiar with their culture. As a result, some of my conversations were awkward and did not make sense to them. At the same time, some of their comments were weird to me. Nevertheless, these experiences made me a better communicator and I understand all those awkward moments were worthy experiences.
Furthermore, it was challenging to adapt to the American school system. For instance, in Afghanistan, my school used to start at 6:30 am and end at 1:00 pm: then I was free all afternoon. On the other hand, in America, I was busy all day with various educational and social activities. In the beginning of school, study hall and compulsory athletic programs did not seem necessary to me. However, by the last day of school, I knew how to play basketball and tennis, which taught me how to work with a team and other social skills. Then I realized that social and extracurricular activities are as important as classroom activities. This is an important aspect of education that many Afghan schools fail to offer.
Now I look in the mirror and can feel what a different person I am from last year. I appreciate all the bittersweet experiences that made me a stronger person. Now I understand why Steve Jobs said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”