LOUISVILLE, Ky. — More than 30 Afghan students at Newcomer Academy got the chance to hear from someone they can closely relate with.
International and local soccer star Dr. Nadia Nadim sat down with students to share her own experience of what it was like to flee Afghanistan at such a young age.
A role model to many for her work on and off the field, but for these Afghan students and other international scholars at Newcomer Academy, Nadim's story means so much more to them.
Not only is she a professional soccer player for Racing Louisville FC, Nadim is a doctor and refugee herself.
"We can learn something from her to never give up on life. Life is short," Silsila Afzali, an Afghan nursing student at Jefferson Community and Technical College, said.
Nadim fled to Denmark when she was 11-years-old after the Taliban killed her father. For her, it was a major adjustment.
"When I was very young, my dad was killed, because he was a general in the Afghan army," she told students.
Nadim said many of the students asked her how she was able to overcome so much.
"A lot of the questions actually were about how do I get better? How did you do this," she said.
Newcomer Academy Principal Gwen Snow says this experience holds a great deal of importance as it displays representation for her students.
"It's pretty amazing. And so students can see that and know that that's definitely within their range as well," Snow said.
Afzali told WHAS11 her family left Afghanistan in 2016 to come to Louisville, saying she feels like the luckiest girl in the world to have come to America when she did.
"I'm praying that God will move the Taliban from Afghanistan and bring peace in Afghanistan," she said.
Afzali says to see these younger Afghan students and refugees hear from Nadim is the representation they need.
"They will study hard," she said. "They will be like her one day and hopefully they will never give up in their life."
Nadim says this is bittersweet for her, but knows these kids are now safe.
"I know how it feels to be in that situation, how it is to feel helpless, and have to leave everything behind," she said. "So I was, you know, feeling very sad, but seeing how they are now and seeing the environment they are in makes me happy."