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Afghan Fulbright Scholars See Bright Future for Their Country
Fulbright student Abdullah Jan sits in the courtyard at the University of Missouri where he studies transportation engineering.
Abdullah Jan, a Fulbright student at the University of Missouri, plans to return to Kabul to work in the transportation engineering field.
When Abdullah Jan met Shabnam, they were seniors at Kabul University in the Engineering Department. Soon, they found themselves interning at the Kabul Central Materials Laboratory operated by the USAID-supported Afghanistan Infrastructure Rehabilitation Program (IRP).

A year and a half later, not only had Abdullah Jan and Shabnam married, they were on their way to study in the United States as recipients of Fulbright scholarships. Their experience at the IRP Central Lab played a direct role.

With a combination of support from IRP and Kansas State University, the couple helped to rehabilitate the Kabul University Construction Materials Laboratory, a place that teaches students to perform commercial tests for contractors and vendors. “The lab is certified by the US Army Corps of Engineers,” Abdullah Jan said proudly, “and it is still progressing well.”

In the U.S., the couple is enrolled in the transportation engineering master’s program at the University of Missouri. Both have 4.0 GPAs, the highest scores students can achieve. When they complete the degree, they will return to Kabul University as assistant professors.

The experience is providing Abdullah and Shabnah with top quality course work and widening their horizons as future teachers and administrators. “I am learning everything about the university from professional courses and activities to the behavior of professors, communications, and administrative systems,” Abdullah Jan said.

The more the couple learns, the more they are convinced that they can help Afghanistan to succeed. “You must use every available opportunity,” they said. “Be persistent, don’t be afraid to innovate, be honest and dependable, and take responsibility for what you do.”

When they return to Afghanistan, one of their first plans is to start a branch of the Institute of Transportation Engineers to support safe and efficient traffic operations in Kabul City and other travel related services.

“Anyone who wants to be a successful engineer should never stop learning,” Abdullah said. “I am really optimistic about the future of Afghanistan.”

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