I was so busy with studies, and with my golf practice. My hope to secure a summer international internship was not as strong as it was before. I still had my imaginary world of success, my inner world and my inner kid. However, week after week, I heard no news. Then one day the writer of my NPR story sent me an email that recommended a list of organizations to which I could apply. This list included Boston Medical Center. I was very grateful for the list he shared. I had new energy, and I applied to the recommended organizations.
I decided to focus on my final exams and to invest my energy in finding an internship. I even planned to take additional courses during summer break in case I could not get an internship.

One night in March, I checked my email. I could not believe the good news. The Boston Medical Center responded and were interested in my application. I was so shocked that I could hardly see the screen. I was extremely happy and could not sleep that night. I felt my inner world of success would come true and keep my motivation alive.

The interview and application process went very well. I was not sure if this was really happening. There were numerous challenges weakening my hope. The entire interview process, was new for me. I had no idea what I was doing. I had to gather the required documents for the USA visa application. I was not financially capable of fulfilling the eligibility criteria. My scholarship stipend covered only the flight from Bangladesh and food expense, not housing. But, I was hopeful of making this internship happen. I started to ask my previous supervisors, and friends to advise me how to gain support to fulfill my goal. I was especially concerned about how to cover the cost of housing for 2 months.

During that semester I took a course called Gender and Development which was life changing. The professor was lovely and I learnt a lot about the philosophy and practical theories of gender and development. One day I got a chance to talk with my professor. She asked about my plans for summer break. I explained to her about my internship opportunity and how housing was my huge concern. She was happy and wished me luck.

A few days later, she emailed me to say she would help me find a host family. One of her kind friends was interested in hosting me. Everything was going well. I applied for the visa and after a few days I received it! It was amazing to achieve my summer internship plan.
My final exams for that semester went really well. One part of me was excited to take on a new journey, but another part of me was worried about traveling alone to a country on the other side of the world. Here I was, a 20 years old girl who had escaped Afghanistan to go to school in Bangladesh. Now I had gotten an internship to travel to the United States.

I flew to Boston and had a wonderful experience as a volunteer at Boston Medical Center. It was an amazing trip and I found peace in Boston. It was a long commute from the house to work, but the days were flying by so fast. Soon, I took my flight back to Bangladesh, happy to pursue my final year as an undergraduate.

A few days after I returned to Bangladesh. I applied for a part time job as a Student Ambassador at the Center for Career Development and International Programs (CDIP). Fortunately, my application was accepted and I started my work along with my studies. My days were bringing sunshine to my life. Every moment was a chance for me to know myself better and build my determination. Gradually, I learned that every down slope ends with an up slope. I learned that communication was the secret key toward my success, and self-confidence was the core of my life!

I found unexpected light after darkness. I could not give up anymore. The darkest days taught me to see the light, and the toughest times taught me to accept the challenges. I learned that life puts challenges in my way equivalent to my strength. I opened my heart to accept those challenges and turn them into success. My moments were joyful and peaceful, and then the final semester approached.

Please help Shagufa raise funds to pursue her education and help end child marriage in developing countries. Donate here: ShagufaGoFundMe