Today I reached another milestone in my academic journey. I just completed the Executive Master’s in National Security Affairs at The Institute of World Politics (IWP) in Washington D.C. The commencement ceremony is postponed until September 2020 due to COVID-19.
My academic journey began before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and I was homeschooled for several years with the hope that one day formal schooling would begin in our province and I would be ready for it. Following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the U.S.-led coalition toppled the Taliban regime, and, in 2002, I set foot in a so-called classroom in a makeshift Madrasa-turned-school.
The school occupied a building of a Jihadist Madrasa in the Zabul province. The largest bathroom became our classroom, and we did not have any furniture, carpet, or even a blackboard. That day, a journey began for me that led me all the way to Washington through Kabul, allowing me to study in some of the best universities around the world. I achieved several well-known scholarships, including the Indian Scholarship of ICCR and American Fulbright.
Additionally, I earned two Master’s in the U.S.: one from the American University’s School of International Service and another from The Institute of World Politics.
The IWP taught me much about the art of statecraft, the existing and emerging security threats, and the best strategies to address those threats. Belonging to a nation hit hard by terrorism, I needed to dive deeply into understanding the phenomenon. The IWP program helped me succeed in that endeavor. For those who want to understand and fight terrorism academically and psychologically, IWP is one of the best places to gain this know-how. I found the school very practical, and all the professors were helpful who tried to tie theories to real-life scenarios.
Born during the war and grown up through continued crises and extreme difficulties, life for me is a tale filled with both sorrow and achievements. Reflecting upon the great losses of family members, friends, classmates, teachers, and colleagues, I consider myself extremely fortunate to be where I am academically and career-wise.
From a humble start in Zabul to being in Washington, D.C. representing the Afghan people and the Government while continuing my education in great institutions is a privilege and honor.
A sincere thank you to everyone who has been with me so far. It will continue.
Haroon Hakimi is currently serving as the Head of the Department for Latin American Countries & Social Affairs with the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C. He recently completed the Executive M.A. in National Security Affairs at IWP and earned a 3.703 GPA.