About the author: Esmatullah Sahebdil is a Star alumnus. He completed his Master’s of Public Administration in India and then spent four years working in project management and policy advising before becoming a Humphrey Fellow in the U.S.
Last year, when I was accepted to the Humphrey Fellowship Program, my long-held dream of being educated in the U.S. came true. The Humphrey Fellowship Program is a signature cultural exchange initiative founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Humphrey Fellows are selected based on their potential for leadership and their commitment to public service in either the public or the private sector.
In the past, I applied several times for educational and professional opportunities abroad. Unfortunately, I was eliminated in the middle or last stages due to my inefficiency in English. I had all the other necessary requirements. I realized I should either stop applying or improve my English proficiency. Finally, I made up my mind and decided I should not give up.
I began studying in earnest for the TOEFL exam. While preparing to apply for the Humphrey Fellowship Program, I signed up for the very challenging iBT test. I scored well and was shortlisted for the interview phase. Fortunately, after much reading and preparation, I passed the interview with full command.
Luckily, I advanced to the final round and after some more months, I received one of the best news of my life. I was shortlisted as a principal candidate from Afghanistan. After completing the bureaucratic and screening phase, I got my visa and ticket and was beginning a journey that I had dreamed of for ten years or more. I was rewarded by my perseverance and efforts.
I was placed at the University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs for my fellowship, where I studied Public Policy Analysis, Public Policy Implementation and attended scores of workshops on leadership, planning, communication and networking. The culmination of the one year program was working six weeks at an American organization for my professional affiliation.
I have been honored by the Humphrey Fellowship experience and now that my fellowship has come to an end, I encourage all readers to consider applying before the 15 July deadline. Nothing is more intoxicating than fulfilling a dream. Be decisive and determined, build on your skills and choose a wise strategy. Good luck! af.usembassy.gov/