My name is Shabnam and I am a student of engineering at Balkh University, Afghanistan.
In 2014 I started coming to Skateistan in Mazar-e-Sharif. I was 14 then and I started coming together with my sisters. There were some people in the community who were saying that girls should not be playing sports. But our family was supportive and we chose not to listen to those voices. I started doing sport here and I learned some very important things.
From the moment I set foot in Skateistan, my self-confidence started to increase. I didn’t know how to skateboard, but slowly I learned and this showed me that when I apply myself, I can achieve. I then started helping younger students and this was a really positive point in my life. Even though I was still young, I had this chance to teach students. This was a big responsibility, but the educators supported and trusted me. The other students really respected me and this helped me to see myself in a different light.
All the staff of Skateistan respected us as teachers. It was the first time I had seen a team of people really respecting each other. There was a feeling of unity and kindness between Skateistan members and I use what I learned there in my life now.
When I came to Skateistan I was able to help myself and my community. It was important to have a safe space where girls can play sports, because there is nothing else like that in our culture. Many girls are not allowed to play sports at all, so we grow up believing that it’s not possible. But when we have something like Skateistan, we can change our thoughts and we can help our community to see that this is good.
Something that was interesting about Skateistan to me was celebrating important days like International Women’s Day and Peace Day. It made me think about why these days are important to our society and how we can contribute to a fairer, more peaceful community.
When I was in Skateistan I had so many good times with my friends. We worked in a team with students and together we did sports and enjoyed everything. I really miss them now. Even though I am enjoying my studies, we don’t have anything like Skateistan for older people and I miss being there.
Now I am studying Engineering at university. The reason that I study this is because I want to build my country. War has had an awful effect on Afghanistan and I want to change my poor country through my lessons. I also want to show that women can be successful engineers. Skateistan showed me that girls can do anything they put their minds to and I want to prove this in my life and to my community. I want to be an example for other girls that they can choose their own path.