WATERVILLE — The Waterville Rotary Club in partnership with Colby College recently held its annual Global Forum during the Rotary Club’s weekly noontime lunch at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Waterville — Alfond Youth Center. The Afghan Scholars Initiative was the focus of the Forum.

The Initiative provided an opportunity for two young men, Naimatullah “Naimat” Merzaiee, attended the Portland Oregon Episcopal School and then Colby College, and Nizamuddin “Nizam” Ahmady, attends the Kents Hill School, to make presentation. Both men spoke about the Initiative, the living and education conditions in Afghanistan, and how the Afghan Scholars Initiative makes a real difference.

Both students and their families fled invading groups of Taliban insurgents and fled for the relative safety of Pakistan. After U.S. intervention that ousted the Taliban from political power, both families returned to Kabul, Afghanistan.

Merzaiee, studies economics at Colby and will return to his native land. In a press release he said, “Afghanistan needs people like me, to make a difference, and I think I can do that, so that’s my goal.” In coming to the U.S., Merzaiee was surprised when on his first day of school, “American teachers knew my name. I was welcomed by everyone. That does not happen in Afghanistan.”

Ahmady’s favorite subject is U.S. history. He will bring the lessons he’s learned back home. He said about Americans, “…people work hard and improve their country.” When asked what he found to be most surprising about the U.S., Ahmady smiled and said, “Not much. I seen [sic] so much in the movies!”

Rotary President Suzanne Uhl-Melanson thanked Merzaiee and Ahmady for sharing their stories and their Afghan Scholars Initiative experiences.

The Afghan Scholars Initiative makes the connections between educational institutions that want to make a global change and talented young Afghans. The Afghan Scholars envision a positive future for their country. The Initiative helps to provide the needed opportunity by placing highly qualified students in visionary high schools and colleges that seek to make an international impact through education.

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