Images of Afghans chasing US military aircraft and clinging to their last hope for independence reminded me of my family’s struggle to escape the Taliban nearly 30 years ago.

I was born in 1992 in the basement of our house in Kabul. The Taliban was just beginning to conquer Afghanistan.

During the Civil War my family sought shelter underground, while rockets and bombs exploded outside.

My mother, an airline steward, and my father, a radio journalist reporting on the Taliban’s human rights abuses, became targets after the group took control of Afghanistan in 1996.

A grenade to kill my father killed my grandfather and injured other members of our family. We found ourselves in the same situation millions of Afghans are in right now: stay home and face possible death, or leave everything behind in search of freedom and opportunity.

We left Kabul at midnight, hiding for months in the homes of family and friends, before arriving at a refugee camp in Pakistan.

I was 6 years old when my brother and I started working 10 hours a day helping to put food on the table. We weave luxury rugs that are sold in the US and Europe.

My dad’s polio limits his physical mobility so he homeschooled us at night. My mother was waiting outside the various embassies in Islamabad, desperately trying to submit refugee visa applications.

We slept on the floor and had simple treats like birthday cakes but continued to work towards a better future.

In May 2003, we received a life-changing call: Pack your bags, you’re going to America.

I was 10, and could barely say “hello” or “how are you” in English, but soon I found myself translating government documents for my parents.

We settled in a small two bedroom apartment in Concord, California. My mother used to make sandwiches at the Subway in San Francisco during the day and take English classes after her shift.

I put on my Team USA jersey, watched re-runs of “Full House” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” and carried a basketball around to get fit.

For me, education was the catalyst for success and America gave me the opportunity to achieve it. The community in the Gulf region provided a welcoming environment and allowed me to proudly call myself an Afghan-American.

Student volunteers from the Athenian school taught me over the weekend and took me to the Giants Games. It was in this high school, while on a full scholarship, where I discovered my passion for reporting and telling stories.

I went to Washington, D.C. Studied journalism in the U.S., where I lived for 10 years.

My dad often says that coming to America was like winning the lottery. But he also reminds me that prosperity is not guaranteed. The success of my family is the success of America and the success of the countless mentors, teachers, friends and allies who have supported us every step of the way.

I followed my father and pursued a career in journalism, the same career the Taliban tried to kill in pursuit of him in Afghanistan.

Last summer I was driving from California to Washington, DC—a quintessential cross-country road trip—as part of an American dream. The beauty of the Great Salt Lake and the wonders of Yellowstone National Park were a handy reminder of the fascinating values ​​and ideals that America embodies beyond borders.

Twenty-five years ago, rockets and bombs kicked my family out of our native land in Afghanistan.

Today my youngest brother is preparing to study engineering in college. My sister recently graduated and started her own business. My middle brother is a physician’s assistant who takes care of elderly patients.

Together, last year, we bought our first house. A piece of earth that we can call ours. Like family.

Afghan refugees who came to the US last year are doing the same thing for now. This is what the family arrived at last summer after a plane chase at Kabul airport.

They were greedy for the hope and freedom that the world knows America will provide.

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