Finding a Home Away From Home
By Mouluddin ”Dean” Rahimi ’10
In a country like Afghanistan, opportunities are scarce. After the 10-year Soviet occupation, Afghanistan fell into civil war. It was one of the bloodiest wars in the country’s contemporary history.
When a nation is at war with itself, there is little attention to education. In fact, children were afraid to go to school for fear fighting would break out in the streets. But for me, this was a golden time for my education in Afghanistan. Then the Taliban took over our school, handcuffed our teachers and threatened us if we came back to school to study.
The future seemed hopeless in a country where going to school was banned. But I wasn’t going to let anyone else determine my future. I took control of my destiny and persuaded my father to send me to Pakistan to finish my education.
For nearly a year, I attended Allama Iqbal Pak-Turk International Schools & Colleges, one of the best schools in Pakistan at the time. I returned to Afghanistan to finish high school in late 2001 after the United States military overthrew the Taliban. After graduating from Mazar-I-Sharif International Afghan-Turk High School in 2004, I put my English and computer skills to work as a database manager for the International Committee of the Red Cross. From there, I took a position as an English teacher at a local educational center, where I was recruited by L-3 Communications, a security contractor working with the U.S. Army.
Working as a consultant and an interpreter at a U.S. Army base really toughened me up, but I also formed great relationships with the soldiers. I remember my friend, Capt. Jack Jarvis, drawing a map of the United States on the ground with his finger one day. He showed me where his hometown of Atlanta was located and talked about how much he missed having turkey for Thanksgiving. I later traveled to that spot on the map and spent my first Christmas in America with his family.
I was convinced I wanted to go to college in America, but I didn’t know where I would end up or how I would pay for my education. After doing a little research on higher education in the United States, I found that scholarships were my only answer. I simply had to go to a school that had scholarships for international students. Fortunately, Susquehanna was one of those schools.
Although I hadn’t seen Susquehanna in person before, when I arrived on campus in August 2006, I was extremely proud of my decision to come here. It was green, peaceful and seemed like home at first sight.
During these last four years, Susquehanna has become an integral part of my life. Its people have become like family, helping me through the difficulties that I’ve faced. My work with the U.S. Army had put me in danger; returning to Afghanistan would mean facing almost certain retribution by the insurgency. So when my father unexpectedly passed away, I could not go home to be with my family. And later, following the crackdown on air travel in response to the Christmas Day bombing attempt, my ethnicity hindered my ability to travel to India to help my mother through a serious illness. But through it all, my Susquehanna family was there for me, lending me their support and assistance at every turn.
This is the kind of place Susquehanna tries to be for every student. It is small enough to make close relationships with faculty and senior administrators possible, yet big enough for students to learn about the world of opportunities that await its graduates. From the classroom to experiential learning opportunities like working as director of trading systems in the trading room of the Sigmund Weis School of Business, Susquehanna has prepared me to succeed in any career path I decide to take, including helping rebuild my homeland’s economy in the coming years.
Susquehanna provides an impeccable experience for every student who spends four years here and then calls it home for a lifetime. This is evident in the way alumni come back to Susquehanna and want to see their home grow and become a leading higher education institution in the country. And I’m proud that I will soon be one of those alumni.