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Alba Iulia
Sunday, May 31, 2020

“I didn’t know if I should cry or celebrate”: the education of a young Afghan journalist

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In the spring of 2017, Zahra Nader, then a reporter for the New York Times, left Afghanistan and told me to follow another Times reporter, Mujib Mashal, and the head of the Kabul office, Rod Nordland, on Twitter. “They will tweet about the vacancy and you can apply,” she said. I waited a few days, but none of them tweeted about being a reporter for The Times.

At 2 a.m. one day, I found Rod’s email address on the Times’ web page and wrote to him. “I will be happy to speak with you, of course,” he replied immediately. “I’ll let you know when I’m back in town, probably at the end of next week.”

On July 22, 2017, I joined the Times office for a week-long essay and contributed to four stories. After the trial, I was told to wait. Others would also try. At the same time, my grandmother fell ill. On August 10, she died and I was lost. I haven’t slept for days. He was the person I was closest to in my family.

Four days later, I received the offer from the Times’ Kabul office. I didn’t know whether to cry or celebrate. I had lost my grandmother and got the job of my dreams.

The next morning, heartbroken and broken English, I started working as a reporter for The Times in Afghanistan.

When I struggle with language, Rod Nordland, who has become my mentor, pushes me. “Write,” he insists. “We are here to help.” He and Mujib Mashal both help me a lot. Once, when I made a mistake, Mujib said to me, “Read more. Read as a writer. “

It was three years ago. I always read every night. The year I was sick, I read maybe 40 novels, in English and Persian.

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