Muzhdah Karimi: Education, Diplomacy, and Identity

Muzhdah grew up in Afghanistan under Taliban rule before immigrating to the United States. In her story, she discusses the importance of education, her passion for diplomacy, and her own journey to self-discovery.

I am a college student, a research assistant for my professor, an intern at the U.S. Department of State, and mother of three children.

My journey of self-identity began in 2007 when I first came to the United States with my newly married husband in search for a new life and better opportunities. I was born in Kandahar and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. I moved from the capital city of Kabul with approximately five million people to a very small town of around 11,500 people in Somerset, Kentucky.

Somerset was a quiet and green place for living. There are so many nice people there who made us feel welcome, and helped us become familiarize with the American culture and way of life in Somerset. For me living in a new culture and environment with people who did not speak my language or religion was not so hard to adjust, because I thought differently about life here. Coming to the U.S. opened a world of opportunities for me and I feel safe here. I can study and work without any fear or threat, because I did not have these opportunities growing up in Afghanistan.

I grew up during the Taliban regime where women were not allowed to leave the house. Human rights and women’s rights were abused and there were no opportunities for women to study or work to support their family. Luckily, my parents were open-minded and very supportive of both girls and boys education. My dad decided to hire a former school teacher to teach me and my siblings at our home. When the Taliban’s regime collapsed in 2001, I was finally able to finish high school and get my diploma.

When I came to the US, I knew if I worked and studied hard, and put in a lot of effort, I would be able to improve my life and my family’s lives, as well as, the lives of others who do not have the same kind of opportunities. I am hopeful that one day I will be able to bring a positive change like so many other people in global community. I have decided that I will complete my education, earn a PhD, and become a career diplomat to support the U.S. interest internationally, and to bring a positive change to the world.

I am currently in my final year of my undergraduate program at the George Mason University, in Virginia. I am getting my Bachelors in Government and International Politics with a concentration in comparative politics. I work as an intern at the U.S. Department of State Office of Foreign Missions. I am also a research assistant at George Mason University Office of Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research. I interview recent Afghan immigrants in the U.S. because I assist Dr. Benjamin Gating in a project and a book that he writes about Afghan Memories and Experiences of Immigration at GMU department of English.