14 Mar Alumni Spotlight
Asma came to Woodstock in 2011, when the Afghan Scholars Initiative (ASI) selected her from a pool of 120 students to apply to Woodstock. Founded by Qiam Amiry, ASI gives opportunities to exceptional young Afghan students to learn and grow in an international environment with the aim of becoming future leaders who will help contribute to Afghanistan’s development.
After spending three years at Woodstock, graduating in May 2014, Asma went on to spend the first two years of her undergraduate degree at Connecticut. In 2016, she transferred to Georgetown University where she is majoring in International Politics with a focus on International Security at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
We asked her a few questions about her time at Woodstock and how it shaped her.
What were you involved in during your time at Woodstock?
During my time at Woodstock, I tried to take hold of every chance that came my way. I was a member of the Woodstock Girls’ Cross Country team. In 2012 and 2013 I participated in the Mussoorie Half Marathon, and I came 4th and 3rd, respectively, in the Women’s Division. I was a member of the Woodstock Girls Intervarsity Basketball team for a semester. I was a Dorm Council, a class President, and a member of the National Honor Society. I also did acting; in 2012, I was the lead actress for a play called Around the World in 80 Days. I took music lessons during my senior year, and ended up the principal violinist for the Woodstock Intermediate Orchestra team.
What do you miss the most about Woodstock?
I miss my classmates, I miss my teachers, I miss the staff, and I miss the kind, warm and welcoming people around me. At Woodstock, we all knew each other, starting from my roommates to Bhaiya jis, who saved us from the Himalayan monkeys. I miss everything about Woodstock, even the dal and rice!
Who did you look up to most during your time at Woodstock?
I may have been far from Afghanistan, but during my time at Woodstock I looked up to Afghan women. Despite living in one of the most dangerous countries in the world, especially for women, resilient Afghan women defied sexist structures to go to school and seek knowledge. I still look up to them; seeing women in leadership positions in Afghanistan inspires me, gives me courage and hope. It makes me think—if they can do it, despite countless challenges that come their way, why can’t I? They also encourage me to take nothing for granted, and so, I try to take hold of every opportunity that comes my way because I know that not every Afghan girl has the privilege to study and live in a safe environment.
How did Woodstock shape who you are?
I met students from all around the world, including India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Tibet, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Switzerland, Kenya, Russia, the United States, Australia and many more. We were a family. It did not matter what race, religion, or ethnicity we came from, we all belonged to one religion, one ethnicity, one race, and one place, and it was called Woodstock. Woodstock taught me no matter where and what background we come from, we are all essentially the same; socially constructed barriers such as race and social class are not as powerful as the humanity within us. At Woodstock, I learned that even if you live in one of the most isolated areas of the world, you can still be open-minded, as long as you are willing to learn.
What are you involved in now that you’re passionate about?
This past summer, I attended the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program (BGIA), in which I interned during the day with a UN-affiliated NGO, the Global Action to Prevent War and Armed Conflict at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York City. As part of the BGIA program, I took evening classes on International Affairs and Counterterrorism. At Georgetown University, I am an Editorial Assistant for Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. I am also a member of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service Academic Council. Since I moved to the US in August of 2014, I have done multiple internships with different organizations such as, Children International, and Education First.
Share with us a note on your time in Mussoorie
Mussoorie was and still is my second home. When people ask me to describe the city where my school was, I start with “there is no place like Mussoorie. I could go back and live there anytime.” I still remember the view from my room in Edge Hill; every day the winter line and the beautiful Himalayas looked as striking as they did the first time I saw them. Almost every day on my way back to my dorm, I would stop for a couple of minutes, admire the view, and thank God for giving me the opportunity to live and study in such a beautiful part of the world.
Interview by Tara Menon, Woodstock Alumni Office
Have you heard about Woodstock’s Scholarships for Peace programme?
Woodstock’s Scholarships for Peace initiative actively seeks to enable students from fragile states or conflict-affected regions to join our international community. We hope that by giving them the gift of a Woodstock School education, we can help them grow into enlightened global citizens who can work together to build healthy, sustainable societies. Can you help recommend a student or partner organisation for Scholarships for Peace, or support the programme in other ways?