Bombs were going off outside. The children in the class had to duck for cover each time it sounded too close for comfort. It was difficult to pay attention to the lesson while a war was raging outside. So goes the childhood of Northampton Community College (NCC) GED student, Hasina Husseini who lived in Afghanistan before moving to America with her husband in 2011.
Growing up in Afghanistan, Husseini’s mother always encouraged her to study even when others did not. “My mom always wanted me to make something good of myself, and I told her I had dreams of becoming a teacher. She paid for my classes because you had to pay to go to school there,” said Husseini.
She took computer classes, English classes, and more, and Husseini loved every moment of learning even though the classroom where she lived wasn’t the easiest place to study. She recalls having one pencil, one notebook and no desk. Sitting on the ground of the classroom, she recalls, “I had one short pencil, and no space was wasted in the notebook,” because supplies were scarce.
When the Taliban was in Afghanistan, women and girls were not allowed to study. So, in 9th grade, for about 3 years, Husseini had to keep her mind sharp and prepared for when she’d be able to continue her studies. She eventually earned her high school diploma in 2003.
Husseini met and married a man with family in Dubai where she moved until coming to New York City in search of better opportunities to learn and grow. She studied English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and took reading and writing courses at La Guardia Community College. She became a citizen of the United States, and she was excited to build a life with her husband and three children stateside.
“One of my cousins used to discourage me. She told me to be a stay-at-home mom and take care of the home.”
Although it was difficult to hear, Husseini instead kept her mother’s words close at heart as she continued to persevere through her studies. She wanted to be an example for her kids, showing them they could do anything they put their mind to, encouraging them the same way her mother did for her.
Husseini was able to bring her mother to the United States in 2019, and in true loving spirit, Husseini’s mother promised to help her with cooking and everything at home while she studied. Eventually, the cost of living in the city became too much, and her family moved to Stroudsburg where she began taking GED classes at NCC’s Monroe campus and online in 2022. The classes she’s taken continue to help Husseini build on her skills before continuing to higher education, and she can now help her kids with their homework when they need it.
“My days are very busy. I make breakfast and lunch for my kids, and I go on Zoom to work and study. I head to the library after class, and I watch YouTube and TV to learn more of the language because classes are not always enough. I need to apply it to real world, and I never give up.” To that end, Husseini was at the Monroe campus Student Life and Leadership Award ceremony this past May 2023 to accept the Center for College and Career Readiness Award.
“In class, Hasina is excited to participate, consistently answers questions and continues to show great improvement. We are in awe of her drive, passion and commitment,” said Program Manager for the Center for College and Career Readiness, Alicia MacKenzie.
Her perseverance is exactly what will get Husseini far in continuing her studies after earning her GED. She intends to continue at NCC to study education. Her motivation for becoming a teacher is to encourage children to be positive and active members of their communities. This is something Husseini knows a lot about, having worked with a non-profit as a program and class co-coordinator since 2015 when she got her citizenship.
Project Hajra is a transformative justice group for Muslim and South and Central Asian women. Husseini works with women who have been victims of violence and oppression. “As a woman, I believe every woman deserves to have freedom, whatever we want, in or outside the home,” said Husseini. “We should have equal rights, the rights of education, and more. We hold the light of hope for all women in our community. We need not just be surviving; we all need to be thriving.”
Husseini is doing just that and has no doubt she will reach all of her future goals and help others to do the same.