By Aleesha Suleman (Article published 2017)
For each of the past several years, a group of students about to enter secondary school have travelled from their home country of Tajikistan in Central Asia to pursue their secondary education at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa. At the Academy, these talented students have received an international standard of education they would not otherwise have been able to access, and their presence on campus has helped enhance the cultural and geographic diversity of the student body.
The first group of eight Tajik students graduated from the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa on 20 May 2017 this year, marking the conclusion of a six-year journey that began with a rigorous selection process in Tajikistan and ended in an emotional graduation ceremony. Aleesha Suleman spoke with two of these students, Nafisa Rahimjonova and Alisher Abdumamadov, about their experiences in Mombasa, the transformation they’ve undergone as a result of their unique educational opportunity and their future aspirations.
Aleesha Suleman (AS): When you look back at yourself six years ago and compare that to how you are now, what are some of the biggest changes you see in yourself?
Nafisa Rahimjonova (NR): Personally, I would definitely say higher self-esteem and self-confidence, becoming a global citizen and developing a cosmopolitan mindset. Our education, both through the IB [International Baccalaureate programmes] and the Academy developed our character rather than just knowledge. It gave me the tools and drive to learn what I’m passionate about.
Alisher Abdumamadov (AA): When I think of myself in year 6, I was not very open to other people and I would say, not very open-minded. However, I feel that I am now much more open-minded and can interact with and appreciate people who are very different from me. We have also had the opportunity to learn about different cultures and religions. Furthermore, we have been empowered to believe that we can make a difference in the world through our actions, however small.
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