hafiqullah Mujadadi, of Kabul City,
Afghanistan, only intended to come to
the United States for his sophomore
year of high school. But he liked the U.S. so
much that he decided to stay, and he now is
a sophomore at Lycoming College studying
political science and economics. He hopes
to graduate in two years and then attend an
American graduate or doctoral program.
Shafi, as he is known on campus, left his
parents and five siblings behind and journeyed
across a continent and ocean to settle in Essex, Vt., as part of a
high school student exchange program. There, he stayed with a
host family and attended a public school. After a year, Mujadadi
wanted to continue going to school in the U.S. and applied for
financial aid at a private boarding school in Fryeburg, Maine.
When he realized he wanted to attend college in the States, he
spoke with his high school adviser about locating a small school
with the ability to help him financially. Lycoming College was a
“I always wanted to attend a small liberal arts college because
I thrive in tight-knit communities and also like to know my
professors on a personal basis,” Mujadadi said.
High school and college are completely different in
Afghanistan, Mujadadi said. To begin with, all high schools
are segregated by gender. Students study 17 subjects, including
religious studies. Schools also base more than 90 percent of
final course grades off of a midterm and final exam, with a
tendency not to incorporate group projects or essays into the
“The general education approach in the U.S.
revolves more around the students than back
home,” he said. “In Afghanistan, you’re
expected to memorize everything in detail and
be able to recall it during exams, while in the
U.S. there is more emphasis on learning con-
cepts and applying those concepts in real life.”
Students who want to attend college in
Afghanistan take a test on all 17 subjects at the
end of their senior year to determine what area
of study is appropriate and where in the country
they will attend school. Colleges are almost all public there, with
private schools now beginning to crop up.
“Being able to study in the U.S. is a great opportunity that not
many people back home get, so I wanted to make the most of my
time here and equip myself with the tools necessary to best serve
my war-torn country in the future,” Mujadadi said.
Mujadadi stays with a host family in Vermont or local friends
during school breaks, returning to Afghanistan for summer
vacation. Although his family is very supportive and he misses
them, he is excited for the opportunity to study at the College.
After he finishes his career at Lycoming and his postgraduate
studies, Mujadadi hopes to return to Afghanistan to use the skills
and knowledge he acquired in the U.S. to help his home country.
Overall, Mujadadi says he has had a very positive experience
at Lycoming, where he is receiving a well-rounded education.
“I have loved my time in Lycoming so far,” he said. “The
faculty and staff are very kind and attentive to the needs of
students. Students are very welcoming and are interested to learn
more about people of diverse backgrounds.”
“I have loved my time
The faculty and staff
are very kind and
attentive to the needs
Shafiqullah Mujadadi ’15 enjoys a
moment during his Civil Conflict
class, taught by Dr. Caroline
Payne, assistant professor
of political science.
LYCOMING COLLEGE 2013 SPRING MAGAZINE