Afghan author Khaled Hosseini honoured in US
WASHINGTON (PAN): Eminent Afghan and internationally acclaimed author Khaled Hosseini was on Thursday presented with the “Outstanding American by Choice” award for his significant contribution and achievements as a naturalised US citizen.
“Through his work with UNHCR, the Khaled Hosseini Foundation, and his literary works, he serves as a voice for some of the world’s most vulnerable and an outstanding example of American generosity, compassion, and concern,” the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, Jane Holl Lute, said at the award ceremony held at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.
Speaking on the occasion, Hosseini said he is “deeply honored” to receive outstanding American by Choice Award. “It means a great deal to me and I know that it means a lot to my family. The truth is that if I’m being called an outstanding American today, it’s because the United States made the choice to grant asylum to myself and my family back in 1980,” he said.
“Our homeland of Afghanistan had been invaded by the Soviet Union and war had erupted. And weekly, I remember hearing news from Kabul of people that we knew back home: friends, relatives, people I’d been raised with, aunts, uncles, who were being imprisoned, tortured, killed, or would simply disappear. We heard harrowing tales of people fleeing and trekking across deserts and over mountain ranges in the dark of night,” he said.
“I think a lot about how fortunate I’ve been. And every day, I give thanks for this miraculous act of generosity and for my home and this great nation. And I imagine, as I have on many occasions, what my life, how it might have turned out, had the U.S. not granted asylum to my family and me,” he said.
In 1980, he said, he was 15 years old. “If I’d returned to Afghanistan, I’m certain that my options would have been few and they would have been dire. It’s entirely likely that I would have been drafted and sent to fight. I might have been injured, paralyzed, or killed. My family may have fled to Pakistan. They may have had to live in a refugee camp. Our prospects for leaving a refugee camp and having a home of our own again would have been dim. And some of the people that I love might have died long before we had a chance to resettle. So I’ve been very fortunate indeed,” he said.
“Here in America, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a well-run public high school, to earn an undergraduate degree, and then a medical degree and practice medicine. I worked as a physician for almost nine years, and then I pursued my life-long childhood dream of writing fiction. I’m married and have two children whose lives are safe and rich with opportunity,” he said.
“As Americans and Americans by Choice, we have a lot to be proud of. And though we can’t absorb all 42.5 million refugees worldwide, it’s indisputable that the United States welcomes and embraces newcomers in a way that most countries do not,” Hosseini said.
“We are unique here in this country in that we not only offer a path to citizenship for people of any race, coming from any nation, but once an individual has been granted citizenship, he is an American for life. The numbers of citizens that we naturalize each year makes the US unique among nations and gives it the credibility to call upon other nations to do more,” he said.
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