My University Graduation

Jul 30, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   university  //  8 Comments

Four years ago in Feb­ru­ary I took the Kankor Exam, the uni­ver­si­ty entrance exam in Afghanistan. Kankor is like the Amer­i­can SAT. It is devel­oped and scored by the Min­istry of High­er Edu­ca­tion (MoHE) of Afghanistan. Kankor includes ques­tions about the sev­er­al sub­jects we study in high school (math­e­mat­ics, physics, chem­istry, lan­guages, geog­ra­phy, his­to­ry and Islam­ic stud­ies) and it nor­mal­ly takes three and a half hours. That year (2007) more than 80000 stu­dents took the exam and less than 2000 stu­dents were accept­ed in state uni­ver­si­ties all over the coun­try [m: state uni­ver­si­ties in Afghanistan are free of any charge and less cor­rupt than pri­vate uni­ver­si­ties]. My first choice out of the 10 dif­fer­ent fields that one can choose on the Kankor was Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture. Actu­al­ly, I want­ed to study Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment with the spe­cial focus on busi­ness and liveli­hood development.

After a lot of research I real­ized that no uni­ver­si­ty in Afghanistan offered a degree in that field. So after tak­ing the Kankor I was accept­ed in my favorite pro­gram in Nan­garhar Uni­ver­si­ty. This Eng­lish lan­guage degree pro­gram that I stud­ied in was fund­ed by the World Bank and Nan­garhar Uni­ver­si­ty worked in part­ner­ship with San Diego State Uni­ver­si­ty. Our cur­ricu­lum was devel­oped by SDSU. After I got into the pro­gram I start­ed to grow fonder of it. I stud­ied hard at school and worked part-time. Ever since I was in 9th grade I have always com­bined school with work: a) because I need­ed to sup­port myself and my fam­i­ly finan­cial­ly as my father who would usu­al­ly brought the bacon home was suf­fer­ing from a heart attack b) because I want­ed to gain work expe­ri­ence togeth­er with for­mal stud­ies at school. Major­ing in Eng­lish in school and work­ing with inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions at a young age pro­vid­ed me with the priv­i­lege of know­ing a lot of Amer­i­cans and oth­er inter­na­tion­als. In the last few years, I worked with a num­ber of inter­na­tion­al and nation­al orga­ni­za­tions in Afghanistan and I made sure that I did well in school.

When I grad­u­at­ed from uni­ver­si­ty last month I got three dif­fer­ent job offers: 1) from the Eng­lish depart­ment of my own uni­ver­si­ty to teach at uni­ver­si­ty lev­el as a pro­fes­sor 2) from USAID in the cap­i­tal Kab­ul as a field offi­cer for Sus­tain­able Water Sup­ply and San­i­ta­tion (SWSS) to col­lect gps data of mal­func­tion­ing wells in Afghanistan and help to try and fix them 3) from a close friend who has a con­struc­tion com­pa­ny to work with him as an admin­is­tra­tive assistant.
I pon­dered a lot about what I want­ed to do for the com­ing two or three years. After vac­il­lat­ing between choic­es, I decid­ed to open my own tech­nol­o­gy devel­op­ment com­pa­ny and offer my ser­vice to my peo­ple through that. Luck­i­ly, I had smart and tech savvy friends that I hired to work togeth­er with me in my con­sul­tant busi­ness. We are a group of about eight peo­ple and we train peo­ple to use tech­nol­o­gy in their devel­op­ment projects in Afghanistan. We have a nick­name ‘Geek Squad’. We recent­ly hired ten interns from Nan­garhar Uni­ver­si­ty that we are train­ing right now in using gps, GIS and oth­er map edit­ing pro­grams and Open­StreetMap. After a cou­ple of weeks all these interns will be ready to embark on col­lect­ing gps tracks and edit the map of Nan­garhar province many of its districts.

I plan to work for a cou­ple of more years in Afghanistan gain more expe­ri­ence and then pur­sue a master’s degree in inter­na­tion­al devel­op­ment abroad, ide­al­ly in the Unit­ed States.