When I was six, my mom registered me for school.  It was my first time meeting teachers and strangers and in the first days I cried. But there were lots of girls and as the year passed, I got used to it. My mother encouraged me because she was illiterate, and my father encouraged me because education is important to him.

My school went from grade one to twelve and many things happened in those twelve years.  In the second year I was sick and missed fifteen days and I began failing one subject.  I tried hard and took the exam over again, and I passed and went on to third grade.

Then in fifth grade I had a very unjust teacher who would hit me and the other students if we did not study enough.

The scariest thing happened in seventh grade. The Taliban came to my school and hit the school guard. It was a terrible day. All the girls were so scared that we sat in the corner of the classroom and cried.  We were afraid they would kill us if we tried to go home.

That was the worst time, when Taliban came.

But there were other worst things in the twelfth grade, like when I had an argument with my sister. I had made friends with all of my classmates, and that was good, and I remember it wasn’t even a serious argument with my sister, I would not talk to her.  Our mom was so angry.  I knew I was wrong. It was my fault. And then when I finished the twelfth grade, I took the Kankor exam—the exam you must take to go to university—and I failed it. It was a bad moment when my cousin called and told me.  I cried.

My mom consoled me, and I went back and took the exam again at a private university, and this time I passed, and the day came that I graduated. That was the best day of my life, the day I had prepared myself for. I invited my friends and family to the event, and I was so happy. My mom and dad were so proud. I wore the graduation day clothes and the graduation hat. I got my diploma and went on to finish four years of university with a Bachelor’s degree. I hope one day to get my master’s degree, Inshallah.

I am thrilled to be educated.  University was amazing.  In university, I studied a lot but we could go outside and there was so much to see and learn.  The university was co-ed. In my first year of university every day I saw boys and girls fall in love. 

By Arifa H.

Young girls study in their classroom at the Nangalam Primary School in Manogai village, Afghanistan on September 27, 2006. Photo by Balazs Gardi.