As a Fulbright Student from Afghanistan, I have been pursuing a Master’s of Science in Human Resources Management at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, California. While working for the United Nations in Kabul, I realized that a lack of technical human resources was – and is – one of the most pressing challenges facing the Afghan government and its private sector. Every year, millions of dollars from donors go unspent because Afghan institutions lack competent individuals to put development programs into practice. Additionally, the Afghan private sector continues to struggle in attracting human capital that would increase the number of domestic businesses. I decided that I wanted to be part of the solution to these problems and the Fulbright Program has provided me with an avenue to pursue this ambition.
While studying for my master’s, I’ve realized that San Francisco is the most vibrant place I’ve seen. It is a magnet for the most talented people in the world and represents the most competitive side of American culture. Two months ago, I attended the Young HR Professional Summit in Silicon Valley and listened to the stories of young HR professionals working in small and big tech companies with incredible energy. In April 2014, I attended the Afghan-American Youth Leadership Summit, which was an incredible opportunity for me to meet with many young Afghan-Americans and learn how they are contributing to society here. My favorite moment was when I met an Afghan-American activist currently based in Los Angeles. I shared my story with her and she nominated me for the UN Youth Courage Award, which I received at the UN Special Youth Assembly in New York on September 22, 2014.
Currently, I am volunteering with Commonwealth Club of California, where I have the opportunity to meet high-ranking public and business leaders engaging with the community on various issues. I’ve met many leaders such as Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Saxby Chambliss, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Rand Paul, Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, and Sal Khan of Khan Academy. This experience has helped me to understand the culture of civic and public discussion and debate, and how leaders shape in these discussions.
From the mountainous valley of Afghanistan to the skyscrapers of San Francisco, the Fulbright Program continues to broaden my horizons. After spending time in Afghanistan and the United States, I firmly believe the words of president John F. Kennedy: “Even though Afghanistan and the United States are separated by a good many thousands of miles, by history, by culture, by religion, I do think, Your Majesty, that we share one great, overriding, overarching conviction, and that is the strong desire of both of our peoples to maintain their independence, to live in freedom, and to look to the future with hope.”