SN&R’s 2012 College Essay Contest first place
As I wiped the sweat off of my glistening forehead, I heard the girl, about my age, laughing at me. I had never felt so belittled before as I stood there watching my older brother and father clean up the treasures that I call junk from our rented space in the flea market. This incident took place a few years ago, however, to this day I have never felt so humbled. Unknowingly, this incident would be embedded in my brain, helping me sift into the mature young lady I am now.
I was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, where my father was a well-known architect and my mother was an OB/GYN. We were treated like royalty there, and we were very comfortable. But then the Taliban started taking over bits and pieces of Afghanistan, and my parents were getting worried. They knew that if they were to stay there, my brother and I would not have the best situation to grow up in, so we immigrated to the amazing “Amreeka.”
We found an apartment in the depths of Hayward [Calif.] and began our new lives there. My mother’s medical degree and my father’s architectural degree was not enough in America, so my parents went back to school. Every Saturday, we would look for garage sales and purchase items we thought people would really like, and we sold those miscellaneous items at a booth in the flea market every Sunday. We would use this money to make ends meet.
Every few years we would move to a different city, from Hayward, to Oakland, to Union City and eventually to Elk Grove. Throughout my interaction with customers at the flea market and the many times we moved, I have encountered people from all walks of life which have given me a well-rounded perception of life and my goals.
I was raised solely speaking Farsi. It was not until I started school that I first began learning English. From then on, I started to become increasingly Westernized, which began to concern my parents. The adolescent years have definitely been the toughest years of my life. It was as though I was in two paradigms: At home I was the typical Afghan daughter that was foreign to the outside world, and at school I was the typical modern American teenager.
As I entered high school, I began to realize why my parents were so stringent with me. They did not want me to drown myself in drugs, sex, alcohol and every other threat out there in our society. This has shaped my aspirations in the sense that I do not want to conform to society’s standards or be a “slave” to the system. I want to be a leader in all realms of my life, whether it is professionally or socially, so that I may guide others into the path of success.
Most Afghans my age are typical kids that have no direction in life and are caught up with the two minutes of fun. I, on the other hand, am a complete contradiction of this stereotype. I am yearning to do something for this world that is falling apart before our eyes, yet I am unable, without the proper education, to do so.
At whatever school I go to, I will make sure that I succeed in many ways. My long-term goal is to build hospitals for women and children in underrepresented Third World countries. I feel like that is my calling to the world. I have a very strong connection with my home country, and I have to do something about the way of life there.