Friday, May 22, 2009

The Merchant of Harvard Square

What the American Dream means to me, is to expand my knowledge and intellectual abilities, grow spiritually, and build a muscular physique. To become a Renaissance Man. Easier said than done, but that’s what makes me a man with a multifarious identity in tow.

I was born a “lucky survivor” the year the Soviets invaded. It was Afghanistan, 1979, on a summer’s day. Kabul, though largely pro-Soviet, was under martial law. If the king hadn’t been deposed in 1973, I would have been born a prince; nevertheless, I was born in the hallway of a hospital too busy for me. I was lucky indeed to have gotten a doctor last minute; now I would have to survive my adolescence in an Afghanistan of communism and genocide. Instead, in 1984, my mother and two siblings immigrated to America and settled in southern California. My father who previously served as Ambassador to Germany re-united with us in 2000.

That global background has strengthened my affinity with the world. My universal or at least multi-polar worldview, bolstered with my fluency in multiple languages, gives me the unique asset to understand deep-rooted cultural complexities and to focus and think strategically about international affairs. At the same time, being raised in a low-income, single-parent household and observing my mother’s sacrifice of hard work allows me to connect at the microcosmic level with the social plight of the average person.

My parents always told me how much luckier I am be growing up with privileges I never had, but I feel differently. Of course, I feel lucky, but not necessarily more so than my parents. I still don’t know my own country; never known the upper class privileges that my parents grew up with, even though upper class meant something different there and then. With one foot poised on a radically dissimilar culture from that of the other foot, I carry my predicament with grace.

When I moved to Cambridge to pursue the master’s degree in Journalism at Harvard Extension School, I brought with me from California where I was raised, a glowing bulb of American West Coast enthusiasm, but now it’s held down to earth with eastern centeredness.

Though I’m quite entertaining, bubbly, and astonishingly friendly, people know me as a “political guy.” I received a Bachelor’s in International Business with a concentration in German from California State University, Fullerton. Several years later, I completed a dual Bachelor’s degree from University of California, Irvine, in Honors Political Science and History, with minors in Humanities and the Law and Sociology. And in addition to English and German, I’m also fluent in French and Dari (Persian) and currently learning Pashto.

In the long-term, I would also like to earn a doctorate degree in Politics & Social Policy with the hope of becoming a decision-maker at the United Nations and shape policy towards Afghanistan and other developing countries. Pursuing a leadership role is something I have experience in from cabinet position I held during my high school and college years.

During my time at Harvard Extension School, I’ve become a community builder in my classes and my peers respect me as a binding force able to bring people together and create group cohesion. In each class, I am eager to introduce myself to my fellow classmates (learn their names, exchange contact information, and find ways to contribute to their academic success). For instance, I have created online discussion forums in classes so that classmates can exchange ideas and arrange social get-togethers when away from class. With my unparalleled initiative, professional integrity, and quirky sense of humor, I hope to show you how this romantic and brave Afghan warrior can bring smiles on people’s faces even when they are down or mad. This rings true to anyone who meets me and part of the reason why I’m blessed with the ability to genuinely make lots of friends.

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