The Move from Afghanistan


Claire Hammer, Student Life Editor

Moving from one country to another can bring about a lot of change. No matter what age, adapting to a new environment is difficult. Tracy High School alone, there are so many kids that moved from Afghanistan to the United States. The change in the environment seems unimageable. Since it’s such a big change, there are a lot of stories that can be told by students.

Bullying, money problems, difficulties getting jobs and many more. One person specifically, Hadia Yuqob, moved at an old enough age to recall the change along with her whole family.

Living in Afghanistan with her mother, father and three other kids, Yuqob had a busy household. The big change wasn’t easy. Mariam Wahid (Yuqob’s mother) was nervous to tell her kids about deciding to move to the United Sates.

“It was a big decision for us to move to America but we moved for our kids to have a better education and wanted them to be safe. It was very hard to leave my mom, sisters and brothers behind. I also had to leave my job as a doctor that I worked so hard for, but it was worth it for the kids,” Wahid said.

Yuqob’s sister was sixteen years old when they moved. Meena Yuqob, a twenty-one-year-old now, was old enough to have experienced both worlds.

“I was 16 years old, leaving friends, family, my home. I was very scared to move because I already established a home here in Afghanistan. Even though moving was tough, I couldn’t be happier with the decision. Now I am studying Biological Sciences at University of California, Davis,” explained Meena Yuqob.

If you thought moving at 16 was scary, imagine what it would be like to be Hadia’s shoes.

Moving at just about 10 years-old, Hadia Yuqob has had many difficulties with this change.

“It was 2016, five years ago, when we moved from Afghanistan to the states. The change was extremely difficult for me. There was a language barrier which I had to overcome,” Yuqob explained.

Moving with no experience speaking English was one of the hardest parts.

“Since I didn’t know any English, it was hard balancing my lessons with school. It was a lot of pressure,” stated Yuqob.

Amazingly, it only took her a year to be considered fluent. Yet, keeping good grades in school was difficult even if she knew some English.

“I would not understand anything my teachers would say, but I still worked hard through it all and tried my best. All of my hard work eventually paid off.”

Another stressful thing that got thrown on top of school and learning English was the way that people treated her.

She met so many new people. Being in a new school could be awkward and Hadia Yuqob felt this. She wasn’t able to make very many friends. There were so many mean kids. Surprisingly, there were times teachers were not understanding as well.

“Being a new kid, it was hard making friends, especially with my appearance. I did not know if anyone wanted to be my friend because of me being Muslim.  Middle school was me facing my problems alone. I have been told to take my hijab off by the teachers at school and even got punched by a student for it once. I was bullied so much it made me hate school,” Hadia Yuqob said.

A big event that made her scared to go to school was the day of 9/11. Or even going to school the whole week of 9/11. Scared for her life because she knew how people thought about Muslims on this day.

She explained, “I used to be scared of going to school on 9/11 because of people who would look at me weirdly. I was scared someone would be filled with rage and attack me and that no one would help.”

Wahid didn’t know about these bullies until  Yuqob came home one day crying.

Wahid said, “We didn’t expect any bullies at first because we weren’t ready to think about the bad side of moving. But, when Hadia came home one day crying, telling me about these  kids at school I was furious. I couldn’t do anything about it though, so when she came home like this, I would sit and cry with her, trying to sympathize, I felt terrible putting her in this new situation. But I knew it would all work out in the end.”

Living in such a new place and looking different apart from other kids on top of that was extremely hard for  Yuqob. Going to high school was something extremely helpful for her.

“Once I got into high school, so many things changed. I made many friends, and I knew so much more English. I was even more comfortable wearing my hijab and living out my religion. Even though I did have friends, I tried not to put my problems in their hands. If I was sad or if someone was being rude, I would try and handle it by myself,” explained Yuqob.

Through all this, Hadia Yuqob relied on her sister for help too. Meena Yuqob was a huge role model for Hadia Yuqob because of all her school accomplishments.

Eltaf Lavang (left) and her cousin Hadia Yuqob (right) when they were little

“Every time we establish a goal for our lives, we must work hard to achieve it. No matter what it is. My goal since moving to the states was to get into UC Davis. It became my dream school. To reach my goal, I would pay attention in classes because it was difficult for me to comprehend my instructor because of the language barrier I would ask questions a lot. I was also able to take care of my mental health. I worked extremely hard to get to where I am today,” said Meena Yuqob.

Yuqob strives to be like her sister, and she was the one who kept her going at difficult times in school.

Life back in Afghanistan for the family is crazy.  Yuqob feels so bad for the family she has back in Afghanistan.

“It hurts to see my people and family go through so much and not be able to help them in any way. The only thing I can do is pray,” said  Yuqob.

Yuqob feels relieved that she was able to move out of Afghanistan when she could. She wishes that she could have moved with everyone.  Yuqob has a lot of pride in her family, and she wishes she could do more for her cousins and friends.

“I’m only a sixteen-year-old girl who has to stay up at night because I want to make sure that my people are safe. I wish I could be back over there and help them,” she said.

It is a very emotional subject for Yuqob to talk about because she knows if she couldn’t move, this could be her.

“I have one question, why is Afghanistan in the same place as it was before spending all that money on it. I sometimes wonder how the government of America could watch the home of many people fall apart. Do people not have hearts anymore? I ask myself these questions every day and it hurts to know that I can’t do anything to change my family’s life,” explained Yuqob.

One day she hopes she can go back and help her family. It would be one accomplishment on top of the many more that she has.

Yuqob has multiple accomplishments that she is proud of in her life. She kept straight A’s throughout middle school and always got Honor Roll. Freshman year of high school was about the same. She kept good grades even though it was difficult. Though school was hard, she was a part of clubs, and apart of MSA and Science Olympiad club. She joined ACADEC her freshman year as well. Now, junior year, she is President for MSA and Secretary for Science Olympiad.

“I earned three medals last year and 4 ribbons. I am proud that I’m ahead in my math because I did algebra 1 in 8thgrade,” said Hadia Yuqob,. “I feel as if I can help people who aren’t as outgoing as me. I feel as if I can help people who have just moved from Afghanistan who can’t speak English. That’s another one of my accomplishments, that I’ve learned English in a year.”

These are big accomplishments for just a junior in high school. One other thing that she has done is support people back in her home. She goes to protests and raises money for people in need.

Yuqob helps people that are scared to speak their language because of bullies. Since she has experience with bullying, people can turn to her for help. And no matter who you are, Yuqob wants students to know she is someone you can rely on.