From Herat, Afghanistan to Walsh University
Sal Parsa - Class of 2011
Born in Afghanistan in 1988, it was a much different place than it is today. The war and violence in the city prevented my parents from going to hospital, so I was born at home. There was no kindergarten back then and children did not go to elementary school until age seven. Education for my parents was essential because they did not have the privilege or the opportunity to go to school. My mum cannot read or write and my dad studied up to the sixth grade. However, they always encouraged me to receive education because that is the key to success.
Many people might wonder, "What kind of dreams could a boy who was raised during 23 years of war in Afghanistan possibly have?" A very simple dream! To become an influential global citizen, advocating peace and stability. However, unfortunately attaining this dream seemed extremely hopeless in such a war-torn country, with corrupt and illegitimate government. Luckily, God opened the doors of opportunities to Afghan people, and things changed.
I remember I was sitting in my math class when my high school principal and two Americans entered. Everybody was surprised and excited to know what was happening. After a short moment, the principal announced: There are some scholarships offered to the first, second and third position students of 9th, 10th and 11th grade, from the State Department of America. He went on to explain that these people were here to administer tests, and whoever passes the tests will be offered a scholarship to go to the United States for one year. With the blessing of my parents, I headed to school the next morning and took the first test with 1,200 other students. Only 400 of us passed the first round. The second test was the following afternoon, and it was a long test.
We were told the results would be posted the next month, but when a month and 10 days passed without hearing a word, I started to lose hope. Then, one day as I was reaching the main hall, I began to hear voices congratulating me. I arrived at the principal's office to see my name on a list along with 11 other names. I had made it to the next step! The 12 of us prepared for what was supposed to be a half-hour interview the next day.
My interview lasted an hour. The translator told me the results will be back from Washington DC in about three months. Three months passed and everyone was busy with finals. I was in my geography class when the door opened and the principal entered the room with a letter in his hand. He handed me the letter and said, "Sal, you are the finalist. You are awarded the scholarship and you are the honor of our school." As everyone congratulated me, tears of happiness flowed from my eyes. I was the finalist. My childhood vision came true, and the door to a better future has opened to me.
That door was the scholarship to the United States. The person who I am right now started with that significant scholarship. Being a student of Walsh University today is a result of that award. Although I was born in a devastated and war-torn country, I never lost hope. Today, hope is what keeps me going in times of difficulties and misery.