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Education of Women in Afghanistan-Common App Essay-Help with length/flow

Reaper1Shi 7 / 25  
Dec 27, 2010   #1
James Garfield once said "Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained." But in a country subject to Soviet occupation, civil war, severe drought, and now a war against terrorism, the endorsement of popular education has taken a backseat to other issues. Especially remiss is the education of women. Afghans, quite busy with rebuilding their lives and asserting their national independence, have forgotten that the newly instated ideals of freedom and justice can never be properly upheld without knowledge, granted with the institution of education. Although the curtain of invisibility has finally lifted for the women of Afghanistan, they are unable to react and take advantage of opportunities, due to the lack of education.

But where to begin, when faced with a problem whose history spans several generations? Let's start with the beginning, the most important part of the work. Opposition within Afghanistan to girls' education predates the Taliban. Historically, education of females was rare in rural Afghanistan and was confined almost exclusively to the capital. In 1919, newly installed King Amanullah began a swift development of the country's education system, concentrating on expanding education for women. The conservative country eventually overthrew the king, unable to support his radical ideas. Over the course of the twentieth century, due to the efforts of Nadir Shah and King Mohammed Zahir, Afghanistan's education system steadily expanded, despite the country's increasingly traditional views and protesting officials. By the 1970s, 60% of the students at Kabul University were female. Unfortunately, the subsequent decade of Soviet occupation served to erase all strides made in the sector of education. The mines and bombs throughout the country destroyed many of the school buildings, killed many teachers and made it dangerous to even venture outside the house. Afghans, living through a devastating war fueled by external forces and funding from multiple countries, simply survived. At such a time, education was far from the forefronts of their minds.

My mother was eight when the Soviet Union invaded. She was forced to withdraw from school when it became too perilous to attend. As with other Afghans, her life now consisted of low-key existence and obstinate resilience. Eventually, with the escalation of the war, my mother was forced to flee with her family to neighboring Pakistan, where her status as a refugee made it difficult to get an education. Her schooling ended at a fourth grade level, and the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union and rise of the Taliban made it nigh on impossible to restart.

With the fall of the Communist government, the country was divided into warring factions, many of them Mujahideen groups whose ideology was opposed to modern education. The rise of the Taliban regime led to a national ban on education for female, focusing solely on using the madrassa (mosque school) to educate boys. Millions of Afghans immigrated to other countries. Schools were closed either due to lack of security and teachers or because of grim poverty. Under their rule, only about 3 percent of girls received some form of primary education.

Twenty-three years of war destroyed the infrastructure of education in Afghanistan and lead to an increase in illiteracy rates for women. Since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, the government, with international financial aid, has attempted to restore the education system. Today, more children are in school than at any other period in Afghan history. More than 5.4 million children are enrolled in school, nearly 35% of them girls. However, 87% of women are still illiterate, compared to only 44% of men. Only 13% of girls complete primary school. As telling as these figures are, they reveal only part of the story, like a headline without the following report. They veil the relentless, dispiriting, demoralizing and disappointing truth. In a country seeking to catch up to modern times, freedom is still derailed by a few groups of radicals. Resurgent Taliban and other forces launch persistent violent attacks on schools and girls in order to disrupt attempts to better the country and the next generation. International press has covered the acid, poison and gas attacks that girls attending school have faced. Schools have been set on fire, teachers threatened and killed, all in an attempt to scare the new generation in conforming to the views of the older radicals.

In the summer of 2005, my family and I went back to Afghanistan to visit family. We were welcomed with open arms, bombarded with sloppy kisses and comforting hugs. The village was roused with our arrival. The days afterwards were a haze of celebration, as family after family came to greet us. My brothers', having never been there, were introduced to our village and simultaneously to Afghan culture. However, weeks after we has arrived and settled, a tragedy occurred that shook me to the core. One of the younger village girls, and now my newly made friend, Nisa, had been attacked with acid outside of the school she attended and had to be taken to the hospital. Thankfully, she was not hit hard, was treated for their injuries, and then sent home. As per Afghan culture, we went over to wish them well and to offer our help to the family. At the sight of my wounded and wronged friends, my world would never seem so simple again. Within a few weeks, I would be preparing for a journey back to the US, back to the land of excess and choice, a land of ease. I would be going back to school, to a new grade where my biggest worry would be colors of my notebooks. These brave and courageous girls, instead, would be going back (for they were returning, as their father proudly told my family) to a school that could not protect them, in order to open the door to opportunities. Never had I felt more proud of being an Afghan, of being in solidarity with my people than at that moment, when I saw the resolve and determination in their eyes.

Both my mother and Nisa are the motivations in my life. My mother, through her words and actions, has continually pushed me to be better, to be stronger. An exceptionally bright woman who just didn't have the means to truly reach her potential, my mother taught me to value and take advantage of my education, as it would open many doors for me. Thanks to her, I am now the first woman in my family and my village to be going to college. Nisa, with her courage and determination, has made me value both the little and big things in life. Whereas here in America, education is a given right, in Afghanistan, Nisa has to fight her family and her fears to go to school everyday. She has shown me that there truly are things worth fighting for and I hope to act as a role model for her as she aspires to reach higher learning.

An old Chinese proverb goes "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." In 'teaching them to fish' we are not only helping them realize their inner potential but also catalyzing bigger and more grandiose capabilities in them. Afghanistan is a country in the process of rebuilding. With one of the youngest populations in the world, it is a country whose new generation has the opportunity to start with a clean slate. And it is only through the education of the new generation that the country will rebuild itself to the glory of the olden days. It is only through the education of the new generation that the government can truly have a free and just country.

This is my common app essay. I know it's a bit too late to be posting on here, but I unfortunately fell victim to procrastination. I realize that the length is too long so I'd love it if people could tell me where I should trim the essay. It's currently at 1300 words, and I'd like to cut it down to 800 at most.

Thank you in advance to everyone!
atham64 4 / 12  
Dec 27, 2010   #2
what is the topic of the essay? is this a personal essay? because then there is no need for statistics because it feels impersonal and more of an informative essay. Also how does the first quote relate to your topic?
OP Reaper1Shi 7 / 25  
Dec 28, 2010   #3
Thank you!

The question I was answering was "Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you."

And I agree with you completely! It's very impersonal. I'm completely rewriting it, and I'll have it posted within the hour hopefully.
ailibai 8 / 21  
Dec 28, 2010   #4
There's really nothing I can be brutal about; this is beautiful. It made me cry. A lot.
I thought maybe in the final sentences, in addition to saying what the country needs to do, sum up what you want to do, or what this issue has inspired you to do.

I have to give kudos on this. It's brilliant.
OP Reaper1Shi 7 / 25  
Dec 29, 2010   #5
Wow. I didn't expect such words. Thank you very much. You've really given me some confidence in this essay, especially since it's this late in the game.

A few other people also said that I needed to work on the ending, so I will definitely add a couple of sentences about me and my actions in there.
Heavenn07 5 / 13  
Dec 29, 2010   #6
I agree, this is amazing! I think the rewrite is much better as it is more personal.
It is really brilliant; I don't think it needs any revisions at all.
OP Reaper1Shi 7 / 25  
Dec 29, 2010   #7
"The sight of Nisa stopped me in my tracks." Common App Essay- Help

Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.-Education of Women in Afghanistan

This is the commonapp essay I plan on submitting. I'd appreciate any feedback and would love critiques on the wording/length/topic. Thanks in advance!
knattagh 3 / 13  
Dec 29, 2010   #8
I read your whole essay. I am embarrassed at myself for being born in the US and not being able to write nearly a fine as you.

this part sounds a bit awkward to me:
her words sometimes providing much needed motivation.

As far as the length goes, I think it is fine. There used to be a 500 word limit and I think 800 is a nice because it doesnt waste the readers time and it is enough to give out a lot of information.

Just curious, what is your major?
Feel free to critique my essays too
em2always 15 / 79  
Dec 29, 2010   #9
the beginning part gave me chills, acid...i cant even imagine the horror

My last night in my hometown in Ghazni, I bid goodbye to Nisa, who I loved as a sister and admired as a brave soul.------to wordy, rearrange and say hometown of ghazni not hometown in gazni

Nisa's case is not singularly applicable to only her.----redundant. either say singular or only ..you dont need both

very nice concluding sentence
OP Reaper1Shi 7 / 25  
Dec 30, 2010   #10
Final Rewrite:
The sight of Nisa stopped me in my tracks. Sitting up in the rickety, worn hospital bed, her face was only half visible, thick bandages hiding the right side of her face. They continued down her neck, white austere gauze peeking through her hospital gown. Dressing swathed both her hands, placed demurely on her lap, and acted as a testament to her pain.

A single eye stared back at me, probing and unblinking. It seems to implore me for an answer, a reason for the tragedy that she had faced. I had to avert my eyes, choosing instead to let them wander around the bare, simple room. I had no answer. What could possibly necessitate the punishment of having acid thrown on your face?

It was only during the drive back to my village, that I found out her crime was simply going to school. Her desire to learn was offensive enough to warrant devastating burns across her face and hands.

I come from the same village as Nisa. Soon, I will be the first person in my family and my Ghazni village to graduate from high school and go to college.

Opposition to girls' education in Afghanistan long predates the Taliban. During the 20th century, attempts to expand the education system were met with steady opposition. The subsequent decade of Soviet occupation, characterized by loss and destruction, erased the meager strides made in education. Afghans, living through a devastating war, simply sought to survive.

My mother was eight when the Soviet Union invaded. She was forced to withdraw from primary school when it became too perilous to attend. As with other Afghans, her life consisted of low-key existence and obstinate resilience. The fall of the Communist government and the ensuing rise of the Taliban regime led to a national ban on education for females. My mother, an exceptionally bright woman, fell victim to her circumstances.

Both my mother's experience and Nisa's struggle for knowledge have had a deep and resounding impact on me. Nisa's case is not singularly applicable to her. All across Afghanistan, in both rural villages and urban cities, girls are being discouraged from attending school through intimidation and outright acid, poison and gas attacks. Schools have been set on fire, teachers threatened and killed, all in an attempt to scare the new generation into conforming to the views of the older Taliban extremists, which do not allow for girls to better their lives through education.

Yet my mother, whose formal education ended in fourth grade, has been an empowering role model for me, continually pushing me towards the next thing, encouraging me to apply myself as best as I can. When I think of Nisa, I find myself feeling guilty for deviating off task while doing homework or studying. Who am I to waste such an opportunity, when others, back home, are struggling to change minds and open doors? I find myself unable to allow idle hands, because, back in Ghazni, Nisa is struggling to simply hold a pencil between trembling and scarred fingers. Talks with her always raise my spirits, her words sometimes providing much needed motivation. Together, she and my mother make me proud to be an Afghan, proud of our culture, our heritage, and our country. Our nation and its people, young and old, have mettle and dignity. Together, they provided both influence and direction in my life, without which I would be lost.

My last night in my hometown in Ghazni, I bid goodbye to Nisa, who I loved as a sister and admired as a brave soul. I was a lucky girl, going back to a celebrated land, free of the injustice they experienced on a daily basis. Back in the US, I strived to fit in, discarding my Afghan Pashto for the unmistakable tones of middle class Long Island. But I haven't forgotten my good fortune. Every year, I save up loose change, money from tutoring and Eid to send back to the struggling school headmaster, hoping to help with the costs of supplies or repairs. One day, I hope to add my voice, that of a strong educated woman, to the fray and turn my vision for my country and it's people into a reality. It may be a long shot, but even a long shot is worthwhile for the Afghan women.

Soviet occupation, civil war, severe drought and now a war against terrorism have culminated in 23 years of hardship for my people and destroyed the infrastructure of education. A country seeking to modernize, Afghanistan's dream of a free nation is being derailed by a few groups of extremists. Both the government and the people must realize that change can only come when their collective voices drown out those of the extreme few. I am one such voice.

Thank you all for your kind words. I've taken your suggestions and applied them to the essay. I definitely moved some things around so they had more emphasis. However, the parts in bold are what I need help on still. Do they fit where they have been placed? Is it worded awkwardly? Have better suggestions?

@knattagh: I'm not sure what I want to major in. I will probably major in international relations/economics and perhaps have a concentration in pre-med as well. I am interested in many topics, at the moment.
Lightning55 3 / 11  
Dec 30, 2010   #11
In that second to last paragraph, you may want to say that it is worthwhile to educate women all around the world, instead of just Afghanistan. There are many places where education aren't available to women, and you could say that your experience from where you came from helped you open your eyes to all the limits imposed on women around the world

Overall, I like the essay. I think you should mention that you want to major in international relations because it is central to your essay. I think you could combine the 1st and 2nd paragraphs as well as the 3rd and 4th paragraphs. Just suggestions, don't take them forcefully. Good luck!
yaltamirano 1 / 2  
Dec 30, 2010   #12
I agree with John Yang, you should add how you want to major in international relations, maybe add that before "One day, I hope to..." or combine those two and make it a new section, I think that'll make more sense on how you plan on adding your own voice, just a thought... But I think this essay is written beautifully.
OP Reaper1Shi 7 / 25  
Dec 31, 2010   #13
Thank you all for your helpful comments!

I have edited my essay for the final time and submitted it. Its no longer in my hands. :D

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