As a boy growing up in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan, who would have dreamt that I would one day have the honor of shaking President Obama’s hand while at the “Eid ul-Fitr" held on July 21 at the White House.
Somehow, life has been kind to me, amidst the decades of turmoil and strife that has surrounded all Afghans. War, murder, and suicide were the daily experiences of we children, and how our parents and elders managed to raise us with some sense of normalcy is almost beyond comprehension. For myself, I was fortunately born with a talent for language; speaking over six by the time I was a teenager. At age fifteen, I found myself teaching English to leaders at the Afghan Ministry of Defense.
There, something magical happened, for I realized that translation not only entailed defining words from one language to another but also required the insertion of cultural meaning to those words that reflect the mores and customs of the people. In other words, through my teaching, I was learning to speak the language of diplomacy and tact. Soon, I found myself interceding in arguments and confrontations between officers and ambassadors representing various nations, with the outcome in most instances, smoothing the way to amicable resolution. While this talent of mine was well known to the diplomatic community, it was a new discovery that intersected with the military world. My role quickly expanded to field operations, where I participated in projects such as “Operation Enduring Freedom”, assisting the troops to communicate safely and bridging a much-needed cultural divide between perception and intent.
Together, we can make this world a better place. Because of my experience working with the international community and learning about different languages and cultures, I recognize that “different” does not mean “wrong”, but instead represent countless opportunities to embrace the beauty of what is unique about people and learn to understand the many cultures around the world.
As an optimistic person, I aim to make the world a “better place” through my experience and innovative ideas for change. I hope, through my work, that those others, who, like my family members, friends and countrymen currently suffering from the effects of geopolitical instability will find sanctuary, with the backing of the educational tools and a community of international talent, all working to help make this a more peaceful and caring world.
I am looking forward to being a voice of reassurance and kindness to those people, while at the same time observing first-hand the power of hope that proper education brings to their land.