Road to university: Bahar Abbassi | Aga Khan Academies

Road to university: Bahar Abbassi

15 April 2021

Tell us about yourself

I have loved art since I was old enough to hold coloured pencils! My latest interest in art is to paint geometric Islamic patterns. Besides this, I enjoy following political news on social media. I am also the second oldest of six children in my family.

Do you remember your access to education in Afghanistan?

The school I attended in Afghanistan had fine resources; the classrooms and laboratories were of a good standard for students. However, the use of the internet and technology as sources of information were not available as we used to follow textbooks only. This is the biggest difference between the school I attended in Afghanistan and the Academy. The fondest memory from my time at that school is of standing in a straight line and singing the national anthem along with my classmates every morning before the first class.

How has your experience at the Academy impacted you?

Attending the Academy has given me wonderful opportunities. I am exposed to diversity and I have had the chance to learn about different cultures.

Do you remember when you first learned that you had received a scholarship to attend the Academy?

One evening in Jamatkhana, our place of worship, one of my friends told me that she received a scholarship and was curious to know if I had received the same news. But I was clueless because my dad hadn’t told me about it! I started crying because I thought I wouldn’t have the same opportunity as my friend. Then my dad told me that I had received a scholarship! Everyone was happy and cheering for me. My parents and my grandfather were the happiest as I was the first girl child to study abroad in our family. Although they were hesitant to let me away from them for six years, they knew that that the Academy would provide me with an excellent education and would make me someone who serves the community for a better future.

What was your experience like when you first came to the Academy?

Coming to India and studying at the Academy was very different. I have a clear memory of the first day of school. I remember walking nervously into class 7A and finding myself in an uncomfortable but mesmerising situation  a new culture, a new curriculum and a new educational system! The weather was not the only challenge for me, language was the hardest to deal with as I was shy and I was not able to speak English fluently. However, staying in the residences with students from different backgrounds helped me overcome these challenges. The students and teachers were friendly and approachable, that’s why I could overcome the language barrier within a few months. The residences became my second home.

What opportunities have you had at the Academy?

When I first came to the Academy, I thought I would never be able to participate in the events actively. But, after six years, I can say that I have become someone who grasps opportunities in everything I do. The Academy has allowed me to find confidence and strength. I remember being selected for the Student Council in Grade 10 after articulating my thoughts and ideas about taking a leadership role as a representative of my grade. From preparing my Middle Years Programme personal project to holding an art exhibition, I learned to give back to my community. The opportunities the Academy has given me are countless; my time here has led to personal growth and made me look at the world differently.

What is your favourite part of being a student at the Academy? 

The Academy is beautiful in its diversity, and my favourite part about being a student here is living in a community of diverse cultures. I have learnt to respect and treasure different cultures, including my own. This is why I am forever grateful to be part of this amazing place.

How have you been supported during your time at the Academy? 

I respect and appreciate all the teachers at the Academy for what they are doing for students, especially at this time of distance learning. All teachers who taught me have equally contributed to my academic growth. I am forever grateful.

What does the university scholarship mean to you and your family?

I am honoured to have been awarded a full scholarship to study at Tufts University – one of the world’s most prestigious universities. My parents feel very proud and that’s something I always wanted. I am more than ready to experience another rollercoaster ride in the future!

How do you think your time at the Academy will help you during university?

I have learned how to overcome challenges and how to make independent decisions. The Academy has taught me lessons for life by nudging me out of my comfort zone. I have learned to care about my friends but also to care for people I meet along the way. I believe the Academy has prepared me for the real world.