Ashoqullah from Afghanistan

Written by Josh Geisinger. Photo by Seth Preuss.

I met Ashoqullah on our first day in Mongolia amongst a crowd of other Mongolia International University Students. He stood out to me because his arm was bandaged, his front left tooth was chipped, and his English was coherent. He commonly went by “Johnny”, but Ashoqullah is from a remote region of Afghanistan north of Kabul. He refined his English by working with the U.S. Military as an interpreter for 3 years.

Ashoqullah was very interested in talking about American life, discussing food, and telling me about his home. He was interested most of all in me and my life. We would talk for hours about college life, our hopes and dreams, relive stories, and even discuss our beliefs. Ashoqullah was always drawn to our group and I later found out that he is in Mongolia because he is currently in exile from his home. He never talked much about it, but suddenly it became clear that we were some of the first people to actually ask him about his life – to care about him as a person.

When we said goodbye, he told me that we would continue to communicate and that maybe he would visit me in California someday. I asked if I could visit him in Afghanistan once he is able to return home. He responded that he would take me in as a brother. I look forward to that day.