An Educational Pursuit

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of ThumbnailTemplateDONOTSAVEOVER copy 2LYNDON- When you become accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it's easy to take things for granted. For many, going to school each day is a burden. We moan, procrastinate getting out of bed, and complain about an early call-time, but in the end, we still go, because going to school is what's expected of us in this culture.

For individuals such as Benafsha Sohail, an Afghan exchange student studying Business at Lyndon State College, pursuing an education is not what's expected of young women in her country. In fact, it's prevented.

Sohail began studying English when she was 12 years old, with the dream of attending high school in America. "I was around six when I started going to school, and I started learning English at age 12. Since I was really into learning and continuing my education, I improved pretty quickly. So from there I started to teach girls and women in literacy courses, and I also taught children how to learn English."

Unlike many families, Sohail's parents encouraged her pursuit of furthering an education. They wanted their children to better themselves with knowledge, rather than conforming to the social expectations of Afghani citizens. "There are a lot of barriers for women in my community because of the religion, and women are required to stay home. But my parents were very supportive of us going to school," she said. "My older siblings, my brother and sister, came to the U.S. through an exchange program, and came to Lyndon Institute to get their high school education. After they finished, I wanted my brother to help me to come to the U.S. as well, so he invited me, and L.I. offered me a full scholarship."

According to Sohail, some of her friends back home had families as supportive as hers, but most were only able to study until 9'th or 10'th grade, when they started getting married and having children.

To say that moving from Afghanistan to Lyndonville, Vermont was an adjustment is an understatement. Sohail described her transition as a complete culture shock. Some of the immediate challenges she faced included the language barrier, adjusting to a school where both genders were in attendance, the food, and the feeling of being different.

Nevertheless, her excitement to attend high-school outweighed her doubts about living in an unfamiliar place, and overtime she was able to connect with the community. "I think it was hard for students to approach me and ask questions at the beginning, and then after I gave a campus-wide presentation at the general assembly at school, students were more interested to ask me questions and learn more about me, about my background, and where I came from."

Sohail will graduate from Lyndon with a Bachelor's Degree in Business in the Spring of 2019. However, her educational aspirations don't stop there. After working for a while, she intends to pursue her Master's Degree in the United States, so that one day, she can open her own business. "I'm thinking to open a company and recruit more women, so I can create more job opportunities for women everywhere. Not only here in the U.S., but also in my country."

Sohail's supportive family has made her educational aspirations a reality. According to her, school isn't something that anyone should take for granted, no matter where they come from. "I think the only way to recognize and use all the freedom of getting an education and opportunity to take a look to the developing countries and the countries that don't have security and compare their lives with those young people. And they will find out how valuable it is to use the opportunities here and finish their education."


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