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'What it truly means to be a leader': Dr Attaullah Wahidyar inspires Year 10

Published on 28/01/19

Senior Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Afghanistan, Dr Attaullah Wahidyar visited the Stephen Perse Foundation and spoke about his life and work.

The Stephen Perse Foundation were lucky enough to have a visit from Dr Attaullah Wahidyar, Senior Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Afghanistan. Dr Wahidyar's work focuses on getting girls into education across Afghanistan, and through this he has had to negotiate with the Taliban, and even survived a recent assassination attempt in Kabul. Year 10 students were greatly inspired by hearing Dr Wahidyar speak about his life and his work, and Sophie M gives her thoughts on this visit here:

'Last week we were fortunate to have Dr Attaullah Wahidyar talk to us about what it truly means to be a leader. As we move through the school and are looking forward to the next stages in our lives, I am sure many of us in Year 10 are, like me, asking ourselves; who do we want to become?

Dr Attaullah WahidyarFor me, Dr Wahidyar provided a fresh outlook on being a good person.

He described his 6-year-old daughter in Afghanistan as a leader, because she brought him a glass of water every evening after he came home from work. This was because she cared about his needs and wanted to help. Dr Wahidyar talked to us about how true leaders feel empathy towards other people and have the desire to do something about it.

As a student at one of the top secondary schools in Cambridge, I know how easy it can be to forget about everything outside the ‘Cambridge bubble’. Having an iPad running out of charge or getting an 8 instead of 10/10 on an essay seems a big deal, especially when we have nothing to remind us of how challenging life can be for others living around the globe. When Dr Wahidyar was telling us about the school his family runs in Afghanistan and how much impact an education has on a girl’s life, he brought into focus how privileged we are. The message I took away from the talk was that, of all of the brilliant opportunities we are presented with every day, the most valuable of them all is the chance to help others shine.

Whether that is bringing a parent some coffee in the morning, donating to charity or helping in a girl’s school like Dr Wahidyar’s eldest daughter, being considerate of others is what will make life more rewarding. Again, this is one of those things that is easier said than done. But something Dr Wahidyar said certainly made me want to evolve my attitude towards people around me.

Our speaker told us that in a year or two, he would visit us a second time if he would get the opportunity. We would then each be able to tell him what we had done, since he last visited, to become a leader, if this is who we wish to become. At this point it struck me that if Dr Wahidyar cared about our lives to the extent that he would fly all the way back to England to talk to us again, I needed to start walking in the same direction. If Dr Wahidyar travelled around 5700 km to tell us how we could change the world for good, his talk will definitely be something to remember when choosing A Level/IB subjects, applying to university and deciding who we are.

As a student at the Stephen Perse Foundation, I cannot express how valuable these talks and opportunities we are presented with are. I hope that the endeavours made by people like Dr Wahidyar and his family will give more young people around the world the chance to become considerate leaders as we move towards a world where knowledge is accessible to all.'

We were greatly honoured to have Dr Wahidyar visit the Foundation, and grateful that he took the time to inspire our students so significantly. The lessons that he shared will be put into action as our students express themselves as global citizens and leaders in their everyday lives. 

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