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A Unique Journey - Sarwar Sultani

Sarwar Sultani was one of three Afghan students admitted into the ABP in 2006, on a special scholarship from HH Sheikha Moza. Here is his story in his own words: “I joined ABP mainly in order to improve my TOEFL and SAT score. I had a bit of a rough start.  Having completed my primary and secondary school in some of the least developed countries, I had no familiarity with western/modern education system. Although I was familiar with the TOEFL exam, I had never heard about SAT and ACT tests. ABP was my only chance for understanding the modern education system, improving my standardized test scores and academic skills. The Program literally became a bridge that linked my high school education to university. 

After spending a year at ABP, I was admitted to Georgetown School of Foreign Service (SFS) in Doha, Qatar. This was an extraordinary achievement and would not have been possible without the guidance and support from ABP teachers. Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Qatar is all about reading and writing and I had only very basic reading skills and nearly zero writing skills to start with. The academic work load at  ABP made a huge difference, improving my TOEFL and SAT scores that eventually got me the offer of admission from SFS. I must mention that ABP is not just about classes. The extracurricular activities like Debating and Model UN play an equally important role.”

At Georgetown’s SFS-Q, Sarwar studied International Relations and earned a certificate in American Studies. After he graduated, he went back to his home country, Afghanistan, where he spent a year working for an international organization responsible for capacity building in Afghanistan, until a scholarship from the Open Society Foundation enabled him to study for an MA. He chose the University of York in the UK and wrote his Master’s dissertation on post-war reconstruction and development, entitled Peace Process between the Afghan Government and the Neo-Taliban: An Alternative Strategy for Reaching Political Objectives. 

In 2013, he was offered an opportunity to join Princeton University as a Visiting Student Research Collaborator, a challenging but stimulating experience. He interacted with renowned scholars and presented talks on the situation in Afghanistan at Princeton’s Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, where he spent some time working with Wolfgang Danspeckgruber and Michael Barry on projects related to elections and democratic governance in Afghanistan.

With his MA degree in hand, he returned to Kabul, Afghanistan, and started working for the American University of Afghanistan. He spent three years there, getting involved in the election campaign of President Ashraf Ghani. After Ghani’s victory, encouraged by his employers and family alike, Sarwar decided to apply for a doctorate. In 2016, he received a Fulbright Scholarship for pursuing PhD studies in the United States. He is currently in his second year at Rutgers University. Who knows, maybe one day, he will be a presidential candidate himself in his home country?

Sarwar has an optimistic vision of a more politically successful, modern, and peaceful, Afghanistan and is working very hard to make it come true. He still remembers his ABP years as some of the most formative time of his life. He believes that Behind every successful ABP student, there is a successful teacher. I am very grateful to many teachers, but especially to Mr. Wayne Schlegel who did not give up on my extremely poor academic writing skills. I had to revise my personal statement probably more than 20 times. I might be exaggerating. But, it was certainly worth it…”  Yes, it was!

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