My new life in Bangladesh started at the Asian University for Women (AUW). This educational community distinguished by the diversity of the culture, language, thoughts and behaviors of its students which come from 18 countries. AUW was a life changing experience. With its mission to educate women leaders in Asia, AUW became my second home. Every aspect of life at AUW motivated me to think differently about my future. I chose to go to the library ever day. Most of the time I was the last student to leave the library at midnight.
In Afghanistan, I used to mechanically memorize the content. In contrast, at AUW, I had to learn to think about the material rather than simply memorize it. It was very difficult for me to change my learning style from a traditional system to a liberal arts approach. I used to talk to my professors about my study style and ask them to advise me about how I could improve. Gradually, with their advice, I greatly improved.
The librarian was a friendly lady who used to tell me that she would miss seeing me at the library after I graduated. She was so used to seeing me every day at the same table in the same corner. Sometimes, my friends would tease me by saying that the library was my living room. But I enjoyed reading books. Two books taught me about leadership, management and daily life. These were “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” by Steven Covey and “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” by John Maxwell.
As time passed, I started to see life in a different way. I called my new vision “the Core of Humanity.” When I was in Afghanistan, I used to repeat, several times a day, “I am proud of being a Muslim and was born as a Muslim.” I was not even aware of what I was saying. It was a statement my parents taught me to repeat since I was a little child. I did not realize that I was putting down other religions and other people’s faith. After reading several books at AUW, I thought about the “the Core of Humanity” in depth and decided to practice humanity by being truthful with myself and others, accepting others with their different faiths, being open to learning from others, and giving others a smile.
Day by day, I started to forgive myself for the past and forgive everyone in my life. My professors inspired me to engage in sports and pursue my future dreams. Professor Ian Pound, who taught Literature had lived for almost four years in Kabul.. He was interested to hear about my life experience. Eventually, we arranged a time to meet and to share my story. After I told him about my life from childhood until coming to Bangladesh, he encouraged me to write my story and all that I had experienced He told me that I would appreciate myself a lot more when I wrote about myself. I spent the entire winter break writing my story. It was truly fun. Sometimes my story seemed like a dream to me and sometimes it seemed like it was not about me. It was about a girl in the story, yet it was me!
After two semesters of networking with professors, students and the career service center, I learned that AUW was not only my home for creating hope and making friends, but it also offered great scholarships and golden opportunities. I decided to spend time searching for extra programs, activities and scholarships. One day, AUW announced a scholarship for Afghan students. The scholarship offered a summer internship in any country, plus a six month post-graduate fellowship. I searched about the scholarship with hesitation and fear. I did not know how to search and could not understand the details of the scholarship. I sought guidance from professors and senior students who could help me understand the process and fill out the application form. I was very grateful for their help, but I was still in doubt about my application. I worked hard, and after several drafts, I was finally ready to submit it.
Every semester, I would notice an improvement in my GPA.I was still at the library every day until midnight. I did not have time to think about my past or all that I had gone through. Besides studies, I started to exercise at the gym in the early morning. I found a couple of friends to do sports such as running, basketball, golf, swimming and walking. Then, one day, I received a confirmation email that I had been selected for the scholarship. I was very excited and happy about my achievement. It was an incredible moment. But, it was tough because I didn’t have the support of my family to witness my happiness.
Eventually, I had a chance to enter two marathons in Bangladesh as an international participant. The first 10km Mini Marathon was in December, 2015 where I won second position. The second marathon was the 21 KM Final Sky Running Marathon on Jan, 2016 where I came in fifth position. It was a delightful, fun and amazing experience to run toward success. I could see the sunshine in my life every day.
Then, the moment arrived when golf knocked at my door again!
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