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Photo for Omar Haidari

Omar Haidari

Afghanistan
BA in Humanities, the Arts, and Social Thought (2021)
Email: omar.haidari@berlin.bard.edu

Where are you from and which program are you enrolled in at Bard College Berlin?

I am from Nangarhar, Afghanistan. I am enrolled in the Humanities, the Arts, and Social Thought program.

What drew you to Bard College Berlin and why did you ultimately decide to enroll as a student?

I had studied law and political science at Kabul University but I did not graduate because I was forced to leave my home country during the final year of my bachelor's degree. I moved to Berlin where I had to start my life over.

I began by working as a volunteer in two different organizations (Angehört & Stadtmission). At Angehört we mainly focused and helped immigrants to familiarize themselves with the complicated asylum process by doing translations as well as going to refugee shelters and holding workshops. At Stadtmission I worked with a large group of other volunteers from around the world who would cook food, pack it and distribute it to homeless people around Berlin.

After volunteering for one year with Angehört the director of the organization told me about the PIESC scholarships at Bard College Berlin. BCB, with its small student body and its strong emphasis on student involvement, was exactly the type of school I had always been interested in.

Receiving the PIESC scholarship made my decision to enroll at Bard College Berlin even easier, and it gave me the opportunity to shape my new life. The courses offered by BCB (specifically in the areas of politics and migration) were and continue to be very interesting to me.

What do you like about campus life at Bard College Berlin?

The BCB campus is a smaller picture of Berlin, based on how diverse, calm and friendly of an environment it is. The small student body makes it easier to know everyone on campus. I meet students from all around the world, and each person, with different experience, language, and culture gives me as much knowledge about where they come from as I might gain from many books. Besides student life and academics, I am very involved with athletics and go to the SPOK fitness center to play soccer and Badminton every week. In addition, the cafeteria is more than just a place to eat, it is a place to meet people, chat with them and make new friends. This is the first time that I have ever been in a place filled with so much diversity, yet have the feeling that we are all equal. This is a special feeling for me.

What do you enjoy about living in Berlin?

There is always something for everyone to do at any time. Berlin's history, diversity and endless changes make it special. It is never possible to describe Berlin entirely; its nightlife, public transportation, food, libraries, parks, museums, spending a relaxing evening after a long day at a Späti (a corner store open late), do not even come close to capturing the spirit of the city. It is more than a city for me: it is a state of mind each individual makes for themselves.

Write briefly about one of your courses that left a lasting impression on you.

In my second semester, I had a course "Research-Creation: New Approaches to the History of Forced Migration" with faculty Marion Detjen and John von Bergen. It was the continuation of another class from my first semester, "History and Memory: Forced Migration in 20th and 21st Century Germany."

This class gave me a better understanding and knowledge of migration through history and how it shaped Germany, as well as the impossibility of life or culture as we know it without migration. Within these two semesters, I did a research on Afghan refugees migrating to Germany and how this migration along risky routes has affected their memories and identities. This, in turn, makes it difficult for them to ever be able to forget both the physical and emotional sufferings they have been through on their journey to start a new life in Germany. By doing this research and an accompanying art project, I wanted to portray the situation of Afghan refugees and raise awareness of the issue.

How do you think the education you receive at Bard College Berlin will help you in the future? What does a liberal arts education mean to you?

The education I will receive from Bard College Berlin will give me the opportunity to create a grounding from which I can achieve success. The courses I am pursuing will add to my skills and qualifications and help me to have enough confidence to get a step closer to building my career.

I have always wanted to be a part of, or be the source of a change for the better in people's lives. I want to continue my studies and eventually work in international organizations where I can have more of an impact on human life. The Liberal Arts with their study of philosophy, language, literature, and sciences will bring me knowledge and the possibility of improving my intellectual capacity. I believe a Liberal Arts study is the acquisition of knowledge with the goal of improving human life.