Marie Zumani: the refugee, the FHSU student, the future ambassador
02/20/2007

During the Soviet invasion and 10-year occupation of Afghanistan, 3 million Afghan natives fled thier home country. One of those refugees eventually found her way to Fort Hays State University.

Marie Zamani was five years old when her family fled Kadoul, Afghanistan. She remembers when her parents said they were going to France.

"I was not scared, I was with my parents," said Zamani. "I was very excited."

Still, it was not as simple as Zamani thought. She remembers her parents had to leave their occupations and their families. Her father was a pulmonary doctor and her mother was a high school teacher of Persian literature.

"We had a good life in Afghanistan," said Zamani. "I felt sorry for my parents when we left."

When Zamani's family left, they had to be very careful. She remembers that if it looked like you were moving for good, it would raise questions about what the family was doing.

"We left a lot of expensive things in Afghanistan, like our house, cars and jewelry," said Zamani.

Eventually, all of her family left Afghanistan. Her mother's family moved to America's east coast, and her father's family moved to the west coast. The only family Zamani still has in Afghanistan is one of her aunts.

Zamani grew up in France, where her father studied before the invasion, so it was easier for him to find a job there. However, Zamani's mother had a more difficult time finding work. She even spent some time teaching a kindergarten class.

Zamani, now 22, attended the Universite of Franche--Comte, Besancon, France, before she came to Hays as a non-degree seeking, exchange student for a year. She was working on her master's in political sociology in France.

"I came to Hays to work on my English skills," said Zamani. "I can speak Persian, French, English and Spanish."

Zamani shows no signs of slowing down. After she graduates with her master's degree, she wants to attend the University of Ottawa in Canada for her Ph.D. in political sociology.

"There are more opportunities for a person with a Ph.D.," said Zamani.

Zamani's primary goal is to eventually go back to Afghanistan to help the native people. She is already in a position to prepare for her goal. She is going to New York during this summer to participate in an internship through the United Nations. She will accompany an ambassador through his daily schedule for two weeks.

"I am going to start the beginning of my dreams," said Zamani.


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