PPLE student Baktash Wali

Class of 2018

PPLE students come from a variety of places. Baktash Wali grew up in Afghanistan, but these days he can be found cycling along the canals in Amsterdam. What brought him to the PPLE College?

Baktash Wali in Amsterdam

Getting a good education

Baktash was born in Kabul (Afghanistan) and grew up there, going to school under the Taliban. 'After the fall of the Taliban', he says, 'my parents thought it would improve my job prospects if I learned English, so I started early. They also firmly believe in getting a good education as a way to get ahead in life. I have always put in a lot of effort to do well at school, which has brought me far'. As a top student in his class he was selected for a high school exchange to Fairfax, Virginia, USA. 'My host family were Afghan Americans who had lived there for over 40 years. They prepared the dishes I knew from home, but apart from that they went out of their way to give me an all-American experience'.

Citizen journalist

Back in Afghanistan, Baktash was invited to become a citizen journalist in a US department of state project called Afghan Voices. 'It lasted one year and they gave us cameras and laptops, and taught us to make video clips and documentaries. A report I made for the Global Post and some other video clips are  still online. 

After that year, we got together with a couple of students and decided to start our own NGO: "Afghanistan's New Generation Organization", to continue practicing what we had learned. We made videos and reports for other NGOs, and I freelanced for a number of western documentary makers in Kabul. I needed the money, because I had also enrolled in a Bachelor's programme in law at the American University of Afghanistan, which carried the same tuition fees as universities in the US. So I worked during the daytime and took courses in the evening. I was always very busy, but I learned a lot.'

Getting to the PPLE College

'In September 2013, I was invited to the Netherlands for the summer course "Mastering social media for journalism".  The summer course was a great opportunity, but in the end I didn't go. Due to circumstances in Afghanistan I applied for asylum in the Netherlands instead. Then I heard about the PPLE College. I applied for enrolment in September 2014, but I couldn't arrange the transcripts of the university courses I had taken in Kabul on time. With the help of an admissions officer, I applied for enrolment again in 2015 and used the year in between to learn Dutch. My Dutch is fluent now, but all our classes are in English, so I don't need it at the college.

PPLE is where I put all my energy these days. The programme is challenging; you have to be careful about how you manage your time. Fortunately I was selected for a Holland Scholarship based on my good previous results, because I don't have time to have a job on the side now.'

Baktash Wali

Living in Amsterdam

'I like living in Amsterdam. I live in a part called 'Nieuw West', which is very diverse and about a 30-minute bike ride from PPLE.  I love cycling; it's a good compensation for not going to the gym. Amsterdam is very open and liberal and everybody speaks multiple languages. If you speak English, you can solve any problem. Also, whatever your taste, there is something to do in Amsterdam. I sometimes get last minute tickets for concerts at a reduced price , and I have also been to the theatre several times. Of course, there are also lots of parties, clubs and bars, and drinks are cheaper than in Paris.'

Future plans

'My major will be in law. After graduating from PPLE I would prefer to go to a law school in a common law country and sit for the bar exam there. I would also like to study an international law programme here at the University of Amsterdam. Especially the International Trade and Investment Law programme looks good to me.'

Published by  PPLE

16 February 2016