My Journey So Far

– Saghar Ada, BBA

I am Saghar Ada, a 22 year old girl and a BBA-third-year student of St. Josephs College of Commerce, Bangalore. I have had many different experiences studying in India. First, it has made me mature. The context of Indian mixed society made it possible for me to meet and learn from different people. The experience here changed my behaviour and thoughts. I was born as an Afghan refugee who spent difficult childhood in a male dominated country. I found India a place to find myself and to know my value as a human being. Here we have freedom of expression, we have freedom to share our thoughts and we can stand for our rights too. It has been a big experience in my life, I found myself here and I found my passion.

Though it’s hard to live alone and far from family and as a girl, I am really happy that I got this opportunity to come here and explore a lot and make myself stronger. I can say that I faced culture shock here; studying in India can be challenging, especially for a girl. Before coming here I used to think, like many other girls in my place, that women are only for raising kids and to be a house-wife. Now I am not thinking that way. Here I learnt how important education is and that human beings are all equal regardless of gender, religion, cast, place or race.

College and Education

I have learnt in my college, especially from my principal Dr Daniel Fernandes SJ. I learnt humbleness and how to be nice to all people. Through his actions and a good heart he taught me to be strong and to serve people. I have learnt about research which has opened a huge road ahead of me to work on for my career. I did my research assignment on Economic Growth in Afghanistan. It was a good and challenging experience; it was accepted as one of the good research papers and published in the college research journal.

I did a one year Human Rights Diploma which was a good and amazing experience. I learnt a lot about human rights and dignity, about transgender, gays and LGBT communities. I could meet a lot of amazing people through this course, one of whom was called Akkai, a trans-person. I learnt from her to be ourselves, not to feel regret for being what we are but to feel regret for our actions. I learnt that it is hard to be a good human in this unjust world. This course helped me to find my passion and interest for my Masters.

I had a social internship in Vimochana Forum for Women’s Rights in which we organised a programme to learn about Palestinians and their country. I could see that my country and Palestine’s condition is almost the same as both are war-torn countries. In Vimochana I learnt about critical thinking and I found that I’m passionate in writing my thoughts; girls like me have so many un-said stuffs inside our minds. We can express them through writing; I think I am going to even publish a book.

What I learnt in these few years?

I had always heard that we need to be honest, but unless we experience it first-hand we may not get its real meaning; I learnt to be honest first  with myself and then with people. I learnt that to be happy, one doesn’t necessarily has to have a lot of money, we can help people with small things which we have, even with our passion or talent.

As a women and a girl who has lived as a refugee in a patriarchal society, I can say that first I need to help myself and then the new generation and women, back in my county, with education and knowledge. Without knowledge we can’t do anything. It’s the only way through which we can develop and have progress in our society.

I also learnt that “common sense” is not related to the level of education at all. Common sense is when you can understand things consciously; when you are not selfish and when you can feel sympathy with people who are suffering but can’t express their predicament.

I also learnt that though growing up in a difficult country is challenging, but it makes you mature, stronger and an experienced person. So I feel happy to have lived in that Afghan society. When sometimes I compare myself with girls from other countries and places who are of my age I feel that their concerns are very different from that of mine. I want to learn and get my education to help and to do my part for development of my society or any other place where I can be of any help, but I hear that for some other girls education is only for the sake of degree and for their own personal gain. I feel happy that I can realise these and set higher goals with better values in my life.

Another thing that I experienced here is being discriminated the same way as in Afghanistan for being from Hazara ethnic group as I look like Indian people who are from north-east. I hope that one day we see no discrimination based on caste or race in India.

I learnt that only our goodness will remain in this world and nothing else, so it’s better to do good for this planet and for humans.

Why education is my passion? 

I can say that education, not only for me but for each human being, is important.  Education has positive and constructive impact on every aspect of our life. We can’t miss even one day of our school – the importance is a lot – I’m imagining that if I had missed my school days for any reason, be it even for security reasons, I wouldn’t have been here to do my bachelors. I’m wondering where I would have been if I was one of those women who has to go to work for lively-hood and whose husband has been killed in suicide attacks. These ideas come to my mind as many of my friends in Afghanistan have already had such hard experiences and they are living hard lives. Without education I wouldn’t be the person I’m now.

I can see here that most of the students who score higher marks have had a good and quality educational background. Most of them have studied in international schools. But students like me who do not have that kind of educational background may not score higher marks. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to focus on smart students and students like me can be ignored.

What is success for me?

So, the more I learn the more I realise the power of education which shapes every aspect of our lives. Education has helped me to think of values beyond gender and religion or race. As Horace says “Education … is a great equalizer of conditions of men … the balance wheel of the social machinery … It does better than to disarm the poor of their hostility toward the rich … it prevents being poor”. For me education is a passion that enables me to help myself and my new generation in my nation, it helps us to bring equality in society.

For me, success is when at end of the day when I revalue my day I could be satisfied that I could do something meaningful on that day. For me, success is to be aware of my conscious and unconscious mind at any time. And for me success is hard work and I only think about my goal and my dream. To me success is to be happy and make people happy and be honest and nice and give people comfort when they are with you. For me success is to listen more and talk less. For me success is to read books and increase your knowledge. To me success is to help people. Sometimes we help people just to exercise our power but I think helping people from our heart is right.

I would love to get my PhD and would love to write a book and I think that will be my moment of success and it is also when I will be able to support other people as I am getting support now from Jesuit Refugee Service for my education. I hope if I could do this one day for another person it will be a successful day in my life.

My suggestion to other students, not only Afghan students, but as a whole, is that if we, the new generation, want to bring change in this world then I think we can only bring it through education. Especially for women in the third world, education can help us to raise our voice and tell our untold stories. Education helps us to know ourselves better and could control our ego and can fight with our ego-centric mind set.

Education teaches us to be humble, to be nice and to help other people. We are not getting education only for ourselves or for our individual need, we are getting it because of people and because we need each other.



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