Excited and Empowered

By USCRI June 14, 2023

I am excited for my future and feel empowered by my past

-Excerpts from a college essay by Khurshid, an 18-year-old USCRI NC client from Afghanistan

I came to Raleigh, NC from Afghanistan on December 15, 2021, with my sister. We were resettled by USCRI NC and stayed in a Welcome House for six months. Then we found another place to stay.

I remember Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2022, was my first day at an American high school. Despite the heart stickers on the walls, my first day of school was very difficult. I could not understand what the teachers were asking of me. As much as I wanted to learn, I could not understand a word they said. This resulted in frustration and tears.

While I was dedicating all my free time to my ESL homework, my sister was working twelve-hour shifts so she could provide for me. We struggled to make ends meet.

I was trying my best to learn English. I watched movies in English, read books about grammar, practiced my ESL homework, and tried to speak English to my native English-speaking peers at high school.

My sister, whose dream is to go to nursing school, sacrificed her own education. She worked the night shift in at a physically demanding job so that I could focus on my studies without having to get a job.

I am happy I had the opportunity to continue learning at school, but I also feel great sadness and guilt for the sacrifices my sister made for me. I owe my sister so much for the opportunities she has given me. I feel it is my duty not to waste her gifts. I owe it to her to pursue higher education, so that one day I can get a job and return the favor. Then she will be able to take a break and go back to nursing school.

I am proud of myself; I have been able to challenge and improve myself. I am now on the high school A-B Honor Roll. Less than two years ago I could not speak a word of English.

When I look back at these two years, I feel I am much stronger, more confident, surer of myself now than I was when I was in Afghanistan. Despite my struggles, I am incredibly grateful to be here and have these educational opportunities. Many of those I left behind are deprived of education. Sometimes I feel tired of studying, but I tell myself that many daughters in Afghanistan wish to go to school. Now, it is my duty to use this opportunity and get an education, get a good job, and take advantage of the opportunities my struggles and my sister’s sacrifices have given me. …

I am excited for my future and feel empowered by my past.

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