Aziz Mujahid here, coming from the Nangarhar Province of Eastern Afghanistan. I am an international student of class 2021 pursuing a Masters of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Sustainable Water Resources at ETH Zurich. I completed my undergrad studies in Civil Engineering in Pakistan followed by a Master’s degree in Turkey. It was during my final year of undergraduate studies, when I was searching for the best engineering institutes in the world, that I found out that ETH Zurich is one of the most prestigious engineering institutes in the world. From that day onwards, I wanted to study here.
Afghanistan is a relatively conservative, old-fashioned country that places a greater emphasis on culture. The landlocked geography of the country has been in turmoil since the 1970s. The long years of war have destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. The scars of war are visible in the education sector, too. However, younger men and women, including myself, are keen to rebuild the country. I want to mention the specific challenges that the younger generation has been through: war, insecurity, and a lack of learning opportunities. As we lost a generation, or two, to the wars, very few educated Afghans have been left behind to teach and share their experiences with the younger generation. We lost too much, and in a period when the rest of the world was thriving at a pace faster than ever.
However, when I was about to start my journey – a journey that I was more than happy to follow – I was struck by the flight restrictions imposed in my home country due to the change in political spectrum. This delay was followed by the death of my dearest brother due to cancer. The start of my much anticipated journey was dampened and I nearly lost motivation. With support of my family, I gathered myself back up and decided to continue the road towards ETH Zurich and Switzerland. I was about three weeks late, but nonetheless I was pleased to finally arrive.