"I just want to be educated."

It has been an inspiring, heart-wrenching admissions season at SOLA — a season that has just recently come to its close.

This year, we received 179 applications from 25 provinces. We conducted 74 interviews. We accepted 16 students.

16 girls.

It’s been inspiring. It’s been heart-wrenching.

Their goals, their hopes, their visions, their fears: we’ve heard them. We’ve read them.

Now, here on the blog, you have the chance to meet some of our applicants, through the words they shared with us.

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Why SOLA? This applicant writes: “We don’t have good educational facilities in our district, our schools are often closed, teachers don’t show up to teach, and this impacts my incentive to learn. I don’t want to study in such schools because I have great ambitions.”

She’s not alone. In an interview with one of our applicants from Helmand, I asked: “You’re 19 years old…why would you want to enroll in 6th grade at SOLA?” She replied: “It doesn’t matter how old I am. Taliban have closed girls’ schools in my district. I just want to be educated.”

What will these girls do with their educations? Some told us they would take on corruption. Some said they would focus on improving literacy. All said they were going to work for a better future that every one of us can share.

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The question above asks: What 3 changes would you bring to your community?

The answer reads:

  1. I will grant women rights.

  2. I will educate children.

  3. I will work hard to bring peace.

On International Women’s Day, I think about the women these girls will become — the girls we accepted, the girls we waitlisted, the girls who we had to turn away.

It gives me hope.

I’m happy I could share some of these voices with you today; I’m looking forward to sharing more as the year continues.

Shabana Basij-Rasikh