"We are very relieved that you, as our scholarship holders, have now actually all made it out of Afghanistan and we are happy that ten of you have already arrived in Bremen," said Dr. Mandy Boehnke, Vice President for International Affairs, Academic Qualification, and Diversity. The eleventh scholarship holder is still in Tehran waiting for her visa. In July 2022, eight women and three men were accepted for the Omid Farda scholarship, which covers the amount of the required blocked account plus travel expenses. "Omid Farda" comes from the Persian language and means "hope for tomorrow." Thanks were expressed to the Student Services Organisation, whose team made it possible for the scholarship holders to be placed on the housing waiting lists early and for them to move into two apartments when they arrived. The vice president also expressed her gratitude to the Berlin-based NGO Kabul Luftbrücke, which greatly supported the HERE AHEAD Academy in organizing and realizing their departure.
The only way for the scholarship holders to leave the country was through Tehran, Iran, as the German embassy in Afghanistan has been closed since the Taliban took power in August 2021 and Pakistan has not been issuing visas for Afghans for months. After a good four-week wait, most of them finally held their study visas for Germany in their hands and were able to arrive in Bremen one by one.
"We are now in Bremen - a somewhat surreal situation"
Everything they needed to start a new life had to fit into one suitcase. "We still find ourselves in an extreme situation," scholarship holder Sohrab Zarbafiyan tells us. "In part, we still can't believe that we are really in Europe and in Bremen now. Everything is still new. But we can't wait to start with the language courses and take the first steps into our new future." Sohrab Zarbafiyan already studied information and communication technology in Afghanistan and now wants to complete his master's degree at the University of Bremen.
During the interview, Dr. Christina von Behr, head of the HERE AHEAD Academy, emphasized her hope that all of the scholarship holders will soon feel at home and safe in Bremen, so that their language acquisition will run smoothly and they can resume their studies without any problems. Two of the scholarship holders will also take the entrance exam via the :prime preparation program so that they can go on to begin their bachelor's studies in Bremen.
Nazdana Sultanfar studied law and political science. Like many of the scholarship holders, the 22-year-old was active in Afghanistan in support of girls' and women's rights, which put her on the Taliban's wanted list. She is very happy that they are now all safe and have a promising future ahead of them.
The whole group expressed their heartfelt thanks to the vice president, the HERE AHEAD Academy team, and all supporters and hope that this commitment will spread and that other universities, states, or the federal government will offer such scholarships. "This scholarship is the only possibility for all of us to finish our previous academic education and to create a real future for ourselves with a decent career," emphasized the 25-year-old scholarship holder Aazin Haqiq, who wants to complete her master's degree in social sciences in Bremen. Many Afghans are unable to begin their studies in their home country due to the fact that more and more women are being denied access to universities, for example. It is also often difficult for them to continue their studies because degree programs have been rejected as non-conformist and thus closed down, or students have to avoid public spaces because of personal threats.
The HERE AHEAD Academy
The HERE AHEAD Academy is a joint initiative of the five state universities in Bremen. It offers prospective international students with and without a refugee background programs to prepare them for studying at a university in Bremen. The program includes language acquisition up to the required C1 level (CEFR), interdisciplinary seminars, for example on academic work, intercultural training, and professional preparation, as well as an entrance examination for prospective students with indirect university entrance qualifications to take up specialized courses of study in the state of Bremen.
Communication and Scholarships
HERE AHEAD Academy
Phone: +49 421 218-69682
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