Last Friday we hosted a dinner for ten Fulbright Scholars from Afghanistan. Not your typical Friday night in our house.
My husband is a professor and was running a workshop for 70 Afghan scholars last week. Part of the weeklong visit was a dinner in an American home. We were blessed to be chosen as one of the host families (my husband running the program certainly helped).
Eight men and two women who all speak English, who all have graduated from college in Afghanistan, who all are in the United States for a two year master’s degree in various areas of expertise at Universities all across the states (ranging from the state of Washington to Washington D.C.), who all have been handpicked by the U.S. Department of State to receive these prestigious scholarships shook hands with me, my four kids and my hubby, thanked us graciously for the simple dinner of pasta and salad and shared their stories.
I specifically wanted to speak to the women. They were physically captivating with their olive coloring, large, dark eyes, and thick black hair. But these women blew me away with their inner beauty. One was a dentist in her homeland. She’s come to the States to get a Master’s in Public Health Policy, so she can return to Afghanistan and create better health care policies for her people. The other left home for the first time in her life to pursue her MBA in Finance in Rochester, New York, with dreams of helping non-profit rescue missions with their finances. One said, “I’ve been dreaming of this day since my first year of high school. I worked so hard for this scholarship.”
Yes she did. In a country where men and women are not treated equally, where education and employment opportunities for women pale in comparison to what men are empowered to do, these women fought the odds and went against what was expected of them achieving what some perceived as unachievable.
I take the fact that my daughter attends high school for granted. And living in a college town, it seems the opportunity to attend college is readily available. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed. These women will live for two years in a foreign land, away from their family and their food and their culture, speaking a second language, relying on buses to get them from small apartments to classes, to chase their dreams—dreams of hope and of change.
That kind of bravery in dream chasing deserves to be noticed. So, whatever dream you’re tossing around in your head today, think to yourself:
· Would I move to a country on the other side of the world to fulfill it?
· Would I leave family and friends and the familiarity of my culture to fight for it?
· Would I work years and years to achieve it?
If it burns that deeply in your heart, chase that dream with full force and enthusiasm. Light up the sky with the sparkling firework of your dream. And look to the example of these women as inspiration.
What's your dream?
Laura L. Smith