One day my golf couch from Afghanistan invited me to participate with the Afghan team in another international tournament in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He invited me to practice as part of the team! It was great news to reunite with the golf team after several years and enjoy practicing with them

I really wanted to participate in the tournament. I was grateful for the understanding of my professors who allowed me to take leave and travel to another city for a few days and join the team. It was a very joyful experience. Yet, I was still worried about my life after graduation.

After the tournament in Dhaka, I came back to Chittagong city where my university was located. It was approximately a 6 hours journey by bus. The entire time I was thinking about my future and missing my Afghan golf teammates. It was hard to take the sole journey back to university. I was not ready for any change. AUW had become my home and my hope. My fear of starting a new chapter toward an uncertain path was stressful. I returned to the university and carried on with my studies and final semester ceremonies and plans. I did not hear anything from the post-graduate programs that I applied to earlier in the semester.

My classmates were all happy to go back home after graduation and unite with their families. I had nothing to say. Some of them shared their dreams and plans for their future career and master’s program and were excited for graduation. Unfortunately, I was not sure if I should be happy or sad. I was internally drowning in uncertain thoughts not knowing where the next chapter of my life would be. I had not expected the final semester to be so stressful for me.

One afternoon, I received 2 emails. These emails changed my life! I saw the gates of luckiness opening toward my future. I received an offer to work as an intern with Women for Afghan Women, as well as at the Boston Medical Center! It was an incredible moment to see a clear path. I was drowned in happiness. My professor was very happy about my achievements and the next chapter of my life. I completed the internship process and got my visa to travel in the United States.

The final exams were stressful as well as exciting as this was the end of the semester. But, I was also extremely excited for my graduation.

The Graduation day, the most special day of my life, approached. I can not forget the moment when I was called as the only Afghan student to receive a degree in Economics in 2019. The students were very happy and excited. Their parents and siblings were all around them, taking memorable pictures. I was really missing my family. The lack of my family and the warm accompaniment of my parents was a very strong pain in my heart. But, I was grateful for that day and my past four years,

Next day, I turned over my students at Play Park school and the AUW Golf team to another student. The team had increased to around 20 players including AUW faculties. A few days after graduation, I packed my luggage and prepared to leave. I had completed my journey at AUW and would keep those special memories in my heart. I left Bangladesh for the United States where I would be miles and miles away from my homeland.

I was continuing my journey and was determined to stay confident about my future and my ultimate goals – to help the girls of Afghanistan. Gradually, I realized that life gave me numerous twists, not because I was a girl, not because I was a daughter, not because I was a sister, not because I was an Afghan. It was because life brought those twists as a test on my path to teach me that there is no failure in life.

Life is a learning process to know yourself better – no matter if you are a girl or a boy, a male or a female. As a human being you can choose to be determined, strong, and a change-maker in your life, the life of others and your society.

…to be continued on August 28th!

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