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Afghan student’s inspiring journey – Northeastern Global News

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Afghan student’s inspiring journey

Nearly two years since her evacuation from Afghanistan, Khadija Arian is a Northeastern University student, studying finance, learning to audit and heading off to a co-op — all opportunities she wouldn’t have had if she hadn’t fled when the Taliban took over. She has found friends in her new country and plans to stay. “Northeastern is my home away from home,” Arian says.

Khadija Arian’s path to Northeastern University includes a terrifying turning point: the Taliban takeover of her native Afghanistan. She left her homeland in a sudden, harrowing evacuation, the massive August 2021 airlift from the Kabul airport.

Then a student at the American University of Afghanistan, Arian would’ve been in danger had she stayed. Instead, after a rushed goodbye to her parents, she boarded a bus, sat next to a fellow student who would become her best friend, and—guarded by a phalanx of U.S. soldiers—walked from the bus into the airport to board a flight out of the country.

Now, not yet two years later, Arian is living with three other Afghan transfer students in a dorm on Northeastern’s campus. She’s a junior, an accounting and finance major, member of a financial tech club and the university’s Islamic Society.

“Northeastern is my home away from home,” she says.

On a Friday in April, Arian is sitting in the Starbucks in the Curry Student Center, talking about her transition from Afghanistan to campus life at Northeastern. Arian, 21, wears round, gold-framed glasses. Her long dark brown hair is unpinned. It’s one of Boston’s first halfway-warm days of the year, and she’s wearing a stylish black-and-white plaid overcoat, bought at Zara on Boston’s Newbury Street.

The contrast couldn’t be starker between the life ahead of Arian at Northeastern and beyond, including a hoped-for finance career in the U.S., and what was in store for her under Taliban rule, had she not boarded that plane.

“There isn’t anything that I could do back in Afghanistan,” Arian says. “I wouldn’t have a career. Girls in Afghanistan can’t even go to school, let alone university, let alone work. It’s just too many restrictions on how you live, what you do.”

Father stressed learning English

Arian’s path to Northeastern—or at least to study in the U.S.—began in 2013, when her father, an employee of the Afghan Ministry of Education in the former U.S.-backed government, enrolled her in an international high school in Kabul. “He was a big advocate for girls’ education and schools and female teachers,” Arian says.

Her school, the Barakat International School, taught most classes in English and prepared students for overseas admissions exams. Arian, whose first language is Dari, spent six years there, honing her English skills. “I think because my dad was working with a lot of foreigners, he wanted me to learn in English, because he knew the value that it would bring,” she says.

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