Mar 252010
 
Authors: K.C. Fleming

Last year, Bashir Ahmad Ahmadi walked into an Afghan courthouse close to his hometown to translate a deal between a German lawyer who was looking to donate a number of office supplies and furniture items.

It was part of an effort by the German government to rebuild Afghanistan’s substandard justice system and court officials.
In the prosecutor’s office, with its plush sofas and chai tea, the four bureaucrats told the lawyer she must provide more furnishings and supplies than she could afford or else leave.

“The bad things I had to translate from the two sides — she was about to cry. She kept trying to say ‘no I don’t have the budget to buy more, I only have this much budget.’ And these people didn’t even care,’” Ahmadi said.

This short interaction is just a small part of what Ahmadi says is a culture of greed and political back-peddling that keeps the country wallowing in its third-world status.

Searching a new authority to battle this paradigm, 21-year-old Ahmadi, an Afghan citizen, has come to CSU so he can earn something that most of his friends at home don’t have — a college education.

Ahmadi, a soon-to-be civil engineering major with a focus on irrigation systems, is attending CSU on a full-ride scholarship rewarded to him by the Afghanistan Undergraduate Fellowship Program.

The AUFP’s purpose is to help re-establish accessible high-quality education as the single most vital institution in a country devastated by war according to its Web site, www.americancouncils.org.

Ahmadi was one of five Afghan students chosen, out of thousands of applicants, to receive this scholarship in 2009, but he hasn’t lost any sense of humility.

“I sometimes feel, maybe, like I don’t deserve it,” he said.
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The left wing of Islam*

Politically, Ahmadi said he looks negatively upon radically conservative groups, making him a minority in a country where the status quo is exactly that.

“The youth should be open, not so radicalized with religion because we need to live with the world together,” he said.

Ahmadi is a Sunni Muslim who comes from the Saidkhil tribe, which represents a very specific sect of Islam. But he said that in America he identifies as Afghan in an attempt to further the cause of his country’s national identity.

As part of a small population of Afghans lucky enough to have some formal education, Ahmadi said that he feels an obligation to improve his homeland.

He also hopes to help Afghanistan by working with its bountiful natural resources in order to make life there better for his people.
“I was thinking when I go back, I could be a little help for a new infrastructure for the irrigation in our town,” he said.

Ahmadi is from northeast Afghanistan in the province of Kunduz where his hometown, Kahnabad, is located in one of the most fertile areas of a generally arid country.

“It’s really pretty, just great you know. My village is so green. In my childhood memories all cousins, like ten people, go to the river in the mountain valley and we swim and we fish — it’s amazing,” he said.

Ahmadi has a large family. He has a father, a stepmother, three brothers, three sisters and 15 other nieces and nephews. He keeps in touch via his cell phone and he gets several phone calls from them a week.

“It looks like another tribe basically — a clan,” he said. “I love all of my family members.”

A diverse education

Ahmadi arrived in the United States just before Christmas to start taking classes this semester.

It is his second time in the country. The first time, from 2005 to 2006, he was 17, here as part of a foreign exchange student program.
He finished his junior year of high school in Richmond, Virginia where he stayed with an American host family.

After finishing high school, he got a job as an assistant supervisor for a German technical construction company. He worked on projects such as building construction for the NATO and Afghan militaries, as well as Afghan police and schools.

Because Ahmadi lacked an engineering degree, he did not have the full authority of a supervisor, but he was still responsible for checking things like the stability of concrete and iron supports.
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A call for peace*

Ahmadi said the most important thing Afghanistan needs is to stop fighting.

“We can reach peace with peace, not with guns,” he said. “We need to stop gunning this country because it’s not going to work.”

But he also said that he agrees with the recent military operations in his home country under President Barack Obama.

“I am hopeful for this time,” he said. “With the new strategy of Obama’s, I’m hopeful that things will change.”

Staff reporter K.C. Fleming can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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