I cannot remember my first day of my school, but I do remember clearly being in grade 2 and I could not read the textbook. When the teacher asked me to read it aloud in front of the class, I just “read” the pictures, describing what I saw, because I couldn’t read the text. Eventually, I learned to read, beginning with learning the alphabet and writing words.
When I was a child I wondered what I would be like when I was older. Mostly I imagined my future like my elder sisters. And I thought that I would be like them because they had once been like me. But sometimes I had a bigger imagination and bigger dreams about my life and my future. In those dreams l looked like a doctor. It was my only dream in my small world. My village was the most beautiful part of my world. It was where I grew up and spent my childhood. Back then, I thought a good life meant playing with pieces of the stone and wood. There were days when I didn’t think about anything else. If sometimes I thought about my future, being a doctor was my only dream. It was like a holy job for me. When I looked at some of the doctors I thought they were the most heroic people in the world, because they could cure sick people. I wondered to myself who else could cure a sick person besides a doctor? Sometimes my answer was this that my mom could, because when I became sick she helped me to become better. But sometimes I said to myself that mothers can only do so much – that only doctors can help sick people in the hospital.
Because of these kinds of dreams from my imagination I thought I might like to become a doctor one day although I had no idea how to go about doing that. I didn’t think about doing any other kind of job because in my small village there was not any such thing as terrorist attacks that killed people. I thought that people all over the world had good and safe lives. I didn’t realize that people might need help in any other way than curing them from illness. I passed all the way through the ninth grade in school with this view of the world in my imagination.
But everything changed when I enrolled in Pegah High School in Kabul in the 10th grade and my dreams, ideas and view of the world expanded. I realized that Afghanistan needs leaders in many different areas – in education, in job creation, in security and many other things – doctors aren’t the only need that Afghans have. I realized there were many job possibilities for me where I could be useful to my country. I could be anything I wanted to be. I opened new pages of my life and started writing in this notebook. l learned that the author of this notebook is just me. Even the kind of pen that I want to write with, will be chosen by me. It doesn’t belong to others. l learned from my teachers that I should find the exact meaning of life for myself because each person has a different definition of a good life.
I see a lot of differences between my childhood and now. In the past I just thought about myself, but now I think about all of the people who are in the neighborhoods around of me. I feel responsible for them. And now it has become my mission to help my society.
At the end, I want to thank all of my wonderful teachers who have helped me on my journey, who expanded my world and showed me that how my story ends is up to me.