Story by DeJanay Booth
Videos by Shelby Higgins
Afghanistan to America
Cadet Najafy arrived late at night at the training site. He walked into his room, trying to get settled, and woke up his battle buddy, Steven Rohrig. Lights were out and Rohrig was disturbed by Najafy’s movement as he was putting his bed together.
“I remembered being a little aggravated,” Rohrig said, a senior at State University of NewYork at Plattsburgh. “The next day, we ended up getting to introduce each other and getting along pretty well.”
On the outside, Najafy is an average Army soldier. But Najafay’s background is vastly different than his fellow comrades: Up until his early 20s, Najafy lived in Afghanistan, where he was born.
When he lived in the Middle East, Najafy and his family traveled to countries including Pakistan and Iran because of the war. He tried to pursue various careers including sales but soon found his passion for the military.
He later joined the Army in Afghanistan, but left in the early 2000s to come to the United States. Najafy said he felt blessed and doesn’t regret anything.
“Not everybody [gets] to have a chance to come to the U.S.,” Najafy said. “The lifestyle over here – everything is so different.”
As he sat on the plane, coming to this country for the first time, he looked out the small window and saw the color green. The green grass was everywhere.
“This green never ends,” he thought to himself.
Najafy settled in Washington D.C. before moving to Texas. He came to the U.S. on a student visa, which did not allow him to stay in the country permanently.
He returned in 2008, becoming an official citizen. He learned to speak English in 2008 and practiced the language for six months. He consistently talked to people, starting conversations and learning to create sentences.
“I can’t believe I’m here,” Najafy said.
Najafy’s mother and siblings still live in Afghanistan and he stays in contact with them as much as he can. His mother was proud of him when he decided to move to the U.S., giving him her support.
Although the love he receives from his family comes from another country, he has local support from his wife and young son.
Rohrig said, “He has a very interesting story. I definitely think he has achieved a lot in a short period of time he’s been here, especially over his life so far.”
“Coming from the background to where he is now, it’s very impressive. I didn’t expect to become good friends with somebody who grew up in Afghanistan.”