How a Fairfax Co. student’s journey took him from Afghanistan to Northern Virginia Community College


A Fairfax County student’s journey that commenced in Afghanistan is concluding with strategies to advance his instruction at Northern Virginia Neighborhood College.

Fearful that his little ones ended up in threat simply because he worked for the American armed forces, Eltaf Samim’s father insisted his household flee Afghanistan in 2015.

On a cold night time, Samim’s mother started packing and did not have time to solution thoughts. Mainly because the neighbors were being knowledgeable of Samim’s father’s get the job done, the 5 little ones may perhaps have been uncomplicated kidnapping targets, he considered.

Samim had concluded ninth quality by the time the household still left, but was often frustrated by the country’s instruction process. Teachers don’t treatment about talent, he claimed, and numerous pupils consider to bribe instructors just before exams to receive a superior quality. He refused to give a instructor a reward for that motive.

A journey that took Samim and his family members via Iran, Turkey, Macedonia, Austria and Germany ended in Fairfax County, Virginia, in which Samim graduated from Mountain See Superior School in February. Soon after likely as a result of seventh, eighth and ninth grades several periods in different nations around the world, Samim ideas to enroll at Northern Virginia Local community Higher education following securing quite a few scholarships.

“I hope that persons understand that when you’re residing in a community which is tranquil, it’s a blessing,” Samim mentioned. “When [there’s] peace, there is relaxed minds, and when there is relaxed minds, there is education and learning, and you can find out things, and you can improve by yourself.”

Immediately after fleeing Afghanistan, Samim and his spouse and children ended their trek in Germany, the place the culture, atmosphere and language have been unfamiliar. Attending class in Germany was arduous, and Samim started out in seventh quality, due to the fact he enrolled with out his earlier transcripts. He struggled in most courses, with the exception of English and math.

The lecturers in Germany had been handy, Samim claimed, but urged him to resolve almost everything himself just before trying to get assistance. He correctly done seventh grade but had to repeat eighth quality since of his lingering struggles greedy the language.

Socializing in the course of the 5 yrs he was in Germany was also complicated, Samim said, since of the language barrier. College staff noticed he was frequently on your own and encouraged other learners to get to know him.

“I seriously tried using my very best, I retained studying,” Samim explained. “I truly preferred to end school in Germany.”

Samim successfully finished eighth grade the 2nd time, and went on to start out significant college. The concepts didn’t get simpler, nevertheless, since “it does not make a difference how good German you know, but nonetheless there’s a number of text, there’s a lot of matters that you are unable to understand, that you have to use a translator.”

Meanwhile, Samim’s father acquired an e mail from the U.S. Embassy in Germany, inquiring irrespective of whether he’d like to advance in the procedure to attain a visa. He did, and Samim and his family arrived at Dulles Global Airport on March 31, 2021.

Upon arriving in Virginia, Samim was all over again apprehensive, asking yourself no matter if university in Fairfax County would resemble his experiences in Afghanistan or Germany. He took and passed entry exams, and at 20 many years aged began attending Mountain Look at, an choice college in the county.

Mountain Perspective Higher graduate Eltaf Samim.

The academics blew Samim away, and showed an interest in studying more about his heritage, he said. He was most shocked by receiving a notebook — it contrasted with his experiences in Germany, where carrying books around was the norm.

He routinely wrote for the Mountain Check out Mirror, the university newspaper, and inquired about what he had to do to take part in the school’s February graduation as an alternative of its June ceremony. With the assistance of Mountain View team, Samim took summer season courses and was able to graduate in February. At just one stage, completing 50 outstanding economics assignments in excess of a weekend was element of securing that achievement.

“In Afghanistan, most men and women aspiration of schooling,” Samim mentioned. “Unfortunately, they simply cannot carry on to their university for the reason that [of war]. At the time you go exterior, you do not have any hope to appear back alive.”

With graduation, which Samim describes as his best accomplishment to date, behind him, he’s now honing in on finishing faculty, with aspirations to grow to be an entrepreneur. In Afghan tradition, he explained, it’s typical for young children to pick out a occupation path at a young age. But his mom and dad have presented him with advice on how to gradually decide what arrives next.

“[My father] constantly advised me, ‘I will function. It is your responsibility to examine,’” Samim stated. “It is for the reason that with no knowledge, lifetime is meaningless. With out know-how, everyday living feels vacant and dark.”


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