Zarina Mamadbekova (Class of 2017): The value of giving and daring to dream big | Aga Khan Academies

Zarina Mamadbekova (Class of 2017): The value of giving and daring to dream big

"I want to give back to my community. I want to pull people out of poverty." - Zarina Mamadbekova

When Zarina Mamadbekova was an elementary school student at the Aga Khan School in Khorog, Tajikistan, a presentation on the Aga Khan Academies sparked her interest and inspired her to apply to the school in Mombasa. She was accepted and now, six years later, Zarina is clear-eyed on what her long-term goals are.

“I plan to give back to my community,” she states unequivocally.  “I want to pull people in Central Asia out of poverty.  I want to see doors of opportunity opened to young people in Tajikistan to pursue higher education abroad.”

Zarina is candidly endearing, and is passionate about what she calls “a cycle of giving back.” It is important, she believes, that Central Asian students like her get educational prospects to study abroad and then be encouraged to return to their home countries to give back.

“Those students fortunate enough to receive the benefit of an education abroad must use their knowledge and expertise to provide hope and a better quality of life to future generations of their countries.” 

Zarina graduated from the Academy in 2017 and is currently attending the University of Toronto where she is studying political science and psychology. She will later switch to international development, she says, and was inspired to choose this path during her time at the Academy.

“Global politics and global affairs have always been interesting to me, “she declares with excitement. “At the Academy, in my co-curricular activities, I was deeply involved in global affair debates, and the model UN club.  In fact, I so enjoyed the club that I served it in the capacity of president in my final year of high school.  Also, generally, humanities-based subjects were always my strength so I decided to choose my path based on my interest and fortes.”

Zarina is determined, and already has a picture of where she envisions herself after graduation from university.“I want to work for the AKDN. I want to be involved toward fulfilling its mandate of alleviating poverty and giving people hope,” she says.

Zarina believes it was her years at the Academy that forced her to make remarkable progress toward discovering who she truly is through self-awareness and self-reflection. “The time I spent at the Academy had a major impact on me.  I learnt the value of community service, the value of education, and the value of giving to local communities.”

She also believes the Academies’ curricular strands of diversity, good governance and civil society played a vital role in shaping her character and her thinking.

“The Academy for me was a huge part of my life. Being at the school has helped me to be a more open-minded and an aware individual. Due to the diverse student body, I learnt a lot about other people’s cultures and traditions which is of value to me in the university as well. “

As well as having meaningful impact on her moral fiber, Zarina feels that the Academy’s various programmes were a voyage of awakening and have succeeded in harnessing her passion.

“The Academy gave me experiences and memories that will last me a lifetime. It taught me lessons that are of importance to me in every step of my life. Most of all it allowed me to explore and discover my passion. It allowed me to know myself better and molded me to strive to become a better human being in the world I live in.”

By Perviz Walji