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We welcome your stories of life as a student, your professional development, or lessons you learned that can serve as an inspiration to others. This newsletter is a forum for Afghan students, alumni, and professionals to help each other overcome challenges. Please feel free to submit your personal story or suggestion at AfghanAlumniNetwork@foundationforAfghanistan.org

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Afghan Alumni Network Newsletter – Summer 2013

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Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Afghan Alumni Network Newsletter – Summer 2013

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Foundation for Afghanistan is grateful and needs your Financial Support!

Dear Friends,

In every corner of Afghanistan, from the orchards of Kandahar to the mountains of Badakshan, Afghans are taking responsibility for their nation and striving to make it a peaceful and prosperous nation, one that is welcoming of all peoples.  From thinkers to community activists to teachers and artists, every Afghan that is excelling in his or her field is providing alternatives to violence and extremism.  The Foundation for Afghanistan, through its myriad of development programs, stands ready to support these Afghans in their countrywide social transition.  Help us help them build a new future for Afghanistan. Your support in educating Afghans and promoting their human capital is the best way to prevent future extremism and violence. We need your support to continue these vital programs!

This has been an exciting year for the Foundation as we have expanded our scope beyond scholarships for Afghan students to a broader goal of helping to realize the social transition in Afghanistan.  The Foundation for Afghanistan is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity organization that was established in 2008.  We are now pursuing opportunities that enable our scholarships and community initiatives to be more cost-effective and sustainable.  Our exciting new initiatives include partnerships with local Afghan universities that facilitate educational opportunities to accommodate more Afghans, especially females and minorities, in a sustainable way that avoids brain drain. The Foundation is working in every region of Afghanistan to build bridges and promote a pan-ethnic, pan-linguistic bolstering of Afghan human capital.

Some of our new initiatives include:

  • Scholarship Programs. The reality of transitioning from years of war has an immeasurable impact on the Afghan people, especially its youth.  One of the main criticisms of scholarship programs are that they usually only target students from Kabul, and a few other urban centers.  Just expanding the scholarship programs into rural areas does not do the students justice, as most of them while being able to pass standardized tests do not have the rigorous scholastic preparation to qualify for international universities.  So the Foundation has modified our scholarship program, to not only help bring Afghans to U.S. universities but also to connect them with regional and local universities inside Afghanistan, and more importantly to help them with training and development so that they can be ready to enter university programs.
  • Afghan Alumni Network.  We have developed an Afghan Alumni Network of current and recently graduated Afghan university students to provide a platform for these students to benefit each other, to inspire other prospective Afghan students, and to use their education to benefit Afghanistan.  The network will be a chance for these students and graduates to remain connected to a worldwide network of educated Afghans for professional development and career advancement. In addition, this sharing of knowledge and best practices will be a resource for young Afghans beginning their studies.  To promote the Afghan Alumni Network, we have developed a database, quarterly newsletter, website, and Facebook page.  The newsletter is a way to showcase the stories and achievements of alumni, current students, and young professionals.  Check out our first edition!
  • Regional Offices. The Foundation in the last several months has set up six regional offices inside Afghanistan to help support our self-styled “social transition.”  These offices—in Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Jalalabad, and Bamian—are working to promote a social transition that centers around education, culture, and community development. The Foundation is working with students and community leaders in each location to establish local scholarships, vocational training programs, grant writing programs, art and cultural exhibitions, and any other community based resources desired by the citizens of those areas.

To continue these efforts, we rely on your generous contributions.  During this crucial time in Afghanistan’s history, when we are embarking on a transition to full sovereignty, we need your support to realize the true social transition across the country.  Your donations can help us empower local artists, thinkers, social workers, students, and other community leaders to fulfill all our dreams of building a more stable, inclusive, and prosperous Afghanistan. 

Very truly yours,

Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad
President, Foundation for Afghanistan

Office 202.289.2515 | Mobile 703 498 3995 | Fax 202.289.2516
 1212 New York Ave, NW | Suite 825 | Washington, DC 20005

Twitter   @FdnforAfghan

Facebook facebook.com/FdnforAfghan


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Foundation for Afghanistan 2013 Undergraduate Scholarships

The Foundation for Afghanistan is now accepting applications for our college scholarship program under which qualified Afghan students will receive full scholarships in the United States to study for their bachelor’s degree.

All demonstrated needs of admitted students will be met by assistance from our partner institutions or from Foundation for Afghanistan. Full scholarships will be provided for four years or, in some cases, the duration of students’ undergraduate education.

Who can apply
All college-eligible Afghan students, especially females, are encouraged to apply. We are especially looking for students with financial need who also demonstrate a determination to make a meaningful contribution to Afghanistan upon completion of their education. Through this scholarship program, the Foundation hopes to contribute towards improving human capacity and facilitating the development of Afghanistan.

What costs are covered
The Foundation for Afghanistan and its partner colleges will cover all fees, health insurance, meals and housing for the duration of study. Once in college, students are expected to work 10-15 hours a week to cover their personal expenses and books. Students are responsible for buying their own laptop and airfare to and from Afghanistan.


  • What is the passing TOEFL score?  There is no “passing score” or “minimum score to be accepted.” Everyone is encouraged to apply.
  • I applied last year. Can I apply again? Yes. In your application, we’d like to hear how you have bettered yourself since last year.
  • I don’t have my TOEFL/IELTS score. Can I apply? Applications without international TOEFL or IELTS or SAT scores are not be eligible. Diplomas from Afghan English courses are not substitutes for international TOEFL/IELTS/SAT scores. Students who have studied in “English-medium” schools in Afghanistan or its neighborhood are still required to submit their TOEFL/IELTS results.
  • I live in Iran/Pakistan/United States. Can I apply? Only Afghan students who live in Afghanistan and Afghan refugees in neighboring countries may apply.
  • I am a transfer student. Can I apply? In limited circumstances, we may be able to accept transfer students. Please indicate in your application email that you are a transfer applicant.
  • I am in 11th grade. Can I apply? You need to have all your results for 10th, 11th and 12th class; otherwise, you’re ineligible.
  • I want to study for my master’s or PhD. Can I apply? The Foundation does not offer scholarships for master’s or PhD at this time.
  • How do you select students? We use a combination of factors to select the most qualified students. International TOEFL/SAT/IELTS scores and good high school grades are important; community involvement, volunteer experience or previous work are also important. In particular, we are looking for students who demonstrate a commitment to Afghanistan and academic excellence.
  • If selected, when can I start college? Students selected for this scholarship will start their studies in the US in 2013 and will continue until graduation in 2017.
  • What fields of study are allowed? You may choose to study in any field you’re interested.


Each applicant must submit the following:

  • Foundation for Afghanistan Scholarship Application Form and the accompanying 500-word essay (Essay can’t be longer than 500 words)
  • A copy of their high school document(s) showing grades for classes 10th, 11th and 12th
  • A copy of their official international TOEFL score. IELTS is also acceptable; SAT is strongly encouraged. There is no “passing score” — the higher the score, the better your chances of getting a scholarship.

Submit the required material to applications@foundationforafghanistan.org no later than November 15, 2012.

Helpful links

For regular updates

We will offer regular updates about the application process. You can receive these updates by signing up on our:

For more information
If you have questions or need more information, please email info@foundationforafghanistan.org.



The Foundation confers the first Queen Soraya Award and announces co-sponsorship for TEDxKabul

Secretary Janet Napolitano, Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador and Mrs. Jawad at the Foundation for Afghanistan's inaugural dinner and award ceremonyWASHINGTON, DC – September 12, 2012: The Foundation for Afghanistan held its Inaugural Dinner and Award Ceremony in Washington, DC to recognize the support of individuals and friends in its efforts to empower the Afghan people through the development of human capital. (Photos here)

Some of the Foundation’s student-scholars who attend various universities in the United States attended the event. President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, former President of Bolivia, US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, ambassadors, members of US Congress and other high-level government officials, civil society leaders, the media and Washington notables were present at the occasion.

Founder and chairman of the Foundation, Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad, hosted the event and recognized the work of His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates. Ambassador Al Otaiba is one of the earliest and most committed supporters of education and gender equality in Afghanistan and has played a key role in the UAE’s development efforts in the country. He has also been a steadfast friend of the Foundation for Afghanistan.

“The UAE recognized the urgent need to help reverse the cycle [of violence and poverty]. And in 2003 my government made a ten-year commitment to support the development of Afghanistan through economic and humanitarian assistance,” Ambassador Al Otaiba said.

He also praised the work of the Foundation. “In a just a few short years of existence, the Foundation has quickly established itself as a catalyst to facilitate the redevelopment of Afghanistan, and create social and economic opportunities for the women and youth of that country,” Ambassador Al Otaiba said.

Ambassador Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, chair of the American Red Cross Society, formally presented to him the Foundation Queen Soraya Award, named after Afghanistan’s early 20th-century reformist queen who pioneered women’s rights and education.

Ambassador Jawad announced the Foundation’s co-sponsorship of TEDxKabul, an independently organized component of the popular TED Talks that focus on innovative intellectual and scientific ideas of the day.

“TEDxKabul’s objective is to celebrate the stories, ideas, and innovations of Afghans effecting positive change in their communities. That is fully in line with what we are doing,” Ambassador Jawad said.

“As a new generation of capable and determined Afghan youth emerges to lead our country, the Foundation for Afghanistan is playing its modest role to equip these young leaders with the necessary skills to sustain our accomplishments and implement the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned security and development strategies,” he added.

The Foundation for Afghanistan, a US 501(c)(3) public charity organization, has offices in Kabul, Afghanistan and Washington, DC. It works to empower Afghans to realize the potential for a stable, prosperous and pluralistic Afghanistan. To that end, the Foundation for Afghanistan offers high school scholarships to Afghan girls at risk of dropping out, supports the college education of the daughters of fallen Afghan soldiers and police, and offers Afghan students of limited financial means but unlimited potential full, four-year college scholarships at leading US institutions. The Foundation’s philosophy is that investing in the potential of Afghanistan’s youth is the best long-term development strategy for Afghanistan, and that an educated, well-trained populace is the foundation for sustained peace and prosperity.

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Afghan students finish orientation in Washington, DC ahead of college

Foundation for Afghanistan's orientation program in Washington, DCBy Jenny Suzdak

This August the Foundation for Afghanistan hosted an orientation program for six Afghan student-scholars who will begin their freshman year at US colleges this September. The group consisted of four female and two male student-scholars who are from four different provinces in Afghanistan. The purpose of the orientation program was to introduce the student-scholars to American culture and college life and to make new connections and strengthen existing relationships that will help them in their four years of college and beyond. See pictures of the orientation on our Facebook page.

They were selected for full four-year undergraduate scholarships after a rigorous application process that emphasizes merit. The Foundation aims to build human capacity in Afghanistan and expects its student-scholars to return to Afghanistan immediately after completing their studies to contribute to the development of their country.

The orientation was slated to begin on Friday August 3, but when the Foundation staff met the student-scholars at the airport only one was there (and she didn’t even have her luggage)! After 1 missed flight, 2 delays and 1 cancelation, all of the student-scholars arrived safely in Washington, DC a full day later than anticipated. Despite the less than ideal start, all of the student-scholars were awake and focused the next morning at 8am for their first ESL class. The student-scholars received daily ESL and Math instruction throughout the orientation to prepare them for the academic reality of college. Many ofour student-scholars were ESL teachers in Afghanistan so it was a change to once again be a student!

Several of our student-scholars are Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program alums and studied in the US for one year during high school. One of the student-scholar’s host families lived in Maryland and hosted us for dinner. The students were able to connect with other YES program alums and hear where (both geographically and academically) their studies have taken them. They reflected on their past experiences and where their future might lead them.

None of our student-scholars will be living with host families in college; instead, they will be experiencing college life like most American students: in college dorms. During the orientation the student-scholars learned to live like most American college students: on a limited budget. They ate both ramen noodles ($1 per package) and home-made PB&J sandwiches and the male students even exercised their culinary skills! Although a little spicy, the lobia (a bean dish) was nevertheless delicious and could easily become a dorm favorite.

As part of their cultural immersion, the student-scholars enjoyed an upbeat performance of Curaco and Afro-Caribbean music by the band Kuenta i Tambu at the Kennedy Center; they also attended a jazz performance at the Nation Gallery of Art. The Foundation hopes these experiences showed our student-scholars that living frugally doesn’t mean living a life less full!

Our student-scholars discussed college life with members of the George Washington Afghan Student Association. The members also brainstormed with our student-scholars about how to create an organization of their own. Although there are a few Afghan students studying at the universities that our student-scholars will be attending, none of the universities have an organized student group specifically for Afghan students. With five of our six student-scholars in Kentucky they have an opportunity to not only support with each other, but also to share their heritage and educate their college communities about Afghanistan.

While in DC, our student-scholars had many opportunities to network with many other Afghan nationals as well as people interested in Afghanistan. Nora Cameroon and Susan Crudgington, board members of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women (IEAW), hosted a dinner. Our student-scholars listened to the experience of two Afghan students sponsored by IEAW who are rising seniors and learned the phrase “all-nighter.”

Former Ambassador Jawad, the founder and president of the Foundation, also hosted a dinner for the students-scholars. In addition to leading a stimulating conversation about the current political and security situation in Afghanistan, the Ambassador lectured the student-scholars on how to eat healthy a college. His tip? Don’t eat too many carbs! At the end of last week the student-scholars toured the Afghan embassy and met Ambassador Hakimi, who asked them about their academic goals and career aspirations. One of the student-scholars, who runs  a nonprofit to financially empower Afghan women through embroidery, sought valuable advice about expanding her organization’s market share.

While embracing their Afghan identity, our student-scholars progressed in their understanding of American history and culture. They toured the US Capitol building and also visited Fort-McHenry in Baltimore where the National Anthem was written. While in Baltimore the student-scholars were treated to corn on the cob at an American family’s home and they discovered that while the dish may look like jawari, it is certainly American (and very sweet)!

After a full orientation our students began making the journey to their respective colleges this weekend. Although roughly 12 hours to their destination, the bus ride shouldn’t be as haphazard as those in Afghanistan (or so I’m told). Best of luck!

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Third Friends of the Foundation for Afghanistan Reception connects professionals interested in Afghanistan

The Third Friends of the Foundation for Afghanistan Networking Reception took place in the evening of June 14 in Washington, DC to bring together Afghans and non-Afghans who work or are interested in Afghanistan.

The Foundation’s President Ambassador Said Jawad hosted the event. Attendees came from a diverse array of backgrounds, including people in government, civil society, the private sector, the media and academia. Some of the organizations with attendees included the U.S. State Department, the White House, the Embassy of Afghanistan, the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women and Voice of America, among others.

The reception was the third in a series of networking events the Foundation has organized since our founding, with the aim of facilitating interaction and exchange among Afghans, Afghan-Americans and others with an active interest in Afghanistan. The networking receptions are venues to allow connections between professionals and organizations, enable them to extend their network and develop ties with a community dedicated to working on Afghanistan.

The Afghan-American-owned Local 16 Restaurant (Facebook page here) had graciously made its rooftop deck available for the event, making it a perfect venue for a beautiful evening of conversations and connections. Local 16 also offered authentic Afghan food, including lamb roast and bolani.

The Foundation is going to host future events like this. If you wish to stay informed about our events and activities, you can connect with us through the following:

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Where to take TOEFL and IELTS tests in Afghanistan

If you are an Afghan student hoping to study abroad, you will more than likely be required to take the TOEFL or the IELTS test. They are necessary for most scholarship programs because they offer the only way to compare your English abilities with those of students from elsewhere.

A good TOEFL or IELTS score is always important in helping students access scholarship opportunities abroad. Many Afghan educational centers offer TOEFL preparation courses, but most students do not know where and how to apply and whom to contact. In this blog post, we explain everything.

  1. TOEFL Test:

The Test Of English as a Foreign Language is only offered in Kabul and Herat, so students have to travel to these cities to take the test. Currently, only the Paper-Based Test (PBT) is offered in Afghanistan. Students wishing to take the iBT or cBT can travel to Pakistan or Kyrgyzstan.

  • Test location: University of Nebraska / UNO Education Press

Paktia Kot, Beside Pashmenabafi Factory, Pul-e-Charkhi Road, District 9, Kabul

  • Registration: Students can register online at the official TOEFL website. You will need a credit/debit card.
  • Fee: The registration fee is US$160.
  • Dates: Several test dates are available throughout the year. You can always check the next test date on the official TOEFL website. Test dates may change every year, so make sure you check the latest date on that page.
  • Contact: For Kabul, call +93-(0)-7740-755 827 and for Herat, call +93-(0)-799-208-770.

Remember: If you are applying for scholarships abroad, you should take the international TOEFL test, available only through the University of Nebraska / UNO Education Press. The TOEFL test currently offered by the American University of Afghanistan is called an institutional test and is only used for AUAF’s internal placement needs, not for international scholarships.

  1. IELTS Test:

The International English Language Testing System is offered through the British Council and its affiliates in Afghanistan.

  • Registration: You can register through the British Council’s subsidiary, Aria Delta Consulting Group. They are located next to Afghan Khyber Wedding Hall, Saleem Karwan Square, Taimani Main Road, Kabul.
  • Fee: The registration fee is US$200.
  • Dates: Schedule is available on the British Council website and through the Aria Delta Consulting Group.
  • Contact: Contact the Aria Delta Consulting Group at +93-(0)793-108-181 or at info@aria-delta.com.


Note: For ongoing announcements and changes to test dates, etc., visit the British Council Afghanistan website.



A reception in honor of the students of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women

Foundation for Afghanistan reception in honor of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women

Foundation for Afghanistan reception in honor of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women.

Ambassador Jawad, president of the Foundation for Afghanistan, hosted a reception and meet-and-greet in honor of the students and staff of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women on January 5.

About 30 Afghan students who study in U.S. colleges and universities through the IEAW attended the event, as did the IEAW’s staff and board of directors.

Ambassador Jawad announced that the Foundation is ready to help the graduating students find a suitable job in Afghanistan; this way, the students can not only gain valuable work experience but also contribute to the country’s recovery. Starting with the class of 2012, the Foundation will help the IEAW graduates find jobs in Afghanistan’s media, banking and telecom sectors.

IEAW Founder Paula Nirschel thanked the Foundation for its support and highlighted the shared objective of the IEAW and the Foundation to contribute to the rebuilding of Afghanistan through developing the potential of its people.

The students, for their part, expressed the commitment to serve Afghanistan and to continue their grad school education. They also shared their own stories of struggle and resilience in the face of immense difficulties and highlighted some of their future goals.

The Initiative to Educate Afghan women places female Afghan students in institutions of higher education in the United States. Founded in 2002 by Paula Nirschel, IEAW has grown into the largest independent program of its kind.

See more pictures of the event on our Facebook page.



Catalysts for change: a meeting with leading Afghan media professionals

Afghan media professionalsA delegation of leading Afghan media professionals visited Washington, D.C. under a program sponsored by the U.S. State Department. The Foundation for Afghanistan had the privilege to meet with these prominent Afghan journalists, who represented both broadcast and print media.

The Foundation spoke to them about professional development programs in the United States. Executive Director Ahmad Shuja gave a presentation in Dari about educational opportunities and fellowships for Afghan professionals.

The visiting delegation represented some of Afghanistan’s premier media outlets, including TOLO TV, Ariana TV, Nargis Radio, Pajhwok News Agency, Radio HEELA and Radio Muska.

As part of Afghanistan’s civil society, the role of a robust media is critical in building an informed citizenry to strengthen Afghanistan’s nascent democracy.

A thriving media is one of Afghanistan’s biggest post-Taliban successes. Despite the difficulties and dangers inherent to a country like Afghanistan, these journalists have been diligent and brave, resurrecting the country’s media out of the ashes of decades of conflict. Dozens of private TV channels and radio stations and hundreds of independent magazines and daily newspapers have sprung up in the last 10 years, making Afghanistan one of the most dynamic media markets in the world.

Once dormant during the civil war and the Taliban regime, Afghanistan’s film industry is also making a comeback.

The skills and experiences Afghan media professionals gain from their day-to-day work, often under difficult circumstances, would be invaluable to any American university or fellowship program. Shuja explained the uniqueness of these journalists’ potential contribution to US-based programs and urged them to take advantage of these opportunities for cultural exchange and professional development.

The Foundation’s presentation, hosted by the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, was well received. A question-and-answer session and general discussion followed the presentation. The journalists also learned about the Foundation’s scholarship programs for Afghan students in Afghanistan and the United States.

As they go home, the Foundation will stay in touch with them to share through them opportunities for Afghan students and professionals, thus contributing to the development of human capacity in Afghanistan.

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