Srinagar: After getting admitted on scholarship in universities in the United States, two Kashmiri friends started an organization “WATH” to guide and counsel students of Kashmir who want to apply in universities and colleges outside the valley for pursuing higher education.
In 2018, Moin and Adeeba launched WATH- which literally means Path- with an aim to provide free guidance and counselling to Kashmiri students who want to study abroad in any discipline.
Moin Mir and Adeeba Tak met each other in while they were preparing for admission in engineering courses in 2018.
“In a casual conversation, our teachers told us that we should not limit ourselves to just JEE but should also apply in the colleges and universities of US. That is when we started applying in US educational institutions,” Moin recalled while speaking to the Free Press Kashmir.
21-year-old Moin had to endure through a chain of processes to apply in educational institutions of US, which is the reason that they started WATH to help Kashmir fellows for applying in US colleges.
“In Kashmir very few people apply to US institutes, so we didn’t have any help from Kashmir. Our schools have never exposed us to such opportunities. So we could not have any guidance from Kashmir except from RISE teachers. They helped us to a great extent,” Moin informed
Moin and Adeeba had to face another major challenge of accessibility of internet connection.
“As the entire process happens online, the frequent internet blockade in Kashmir was a big hurdle which had many times hindered our preparation by weeks. Many students weren’t able to prepare or apply because of this.”
After experiencing various hurdles, both the friends were able to apply in the 13 different universities of the US.
Moin was selected in Princeton University in Computer Science and Adeeba got selected in the University of Pennsylvania in Physics stream on scholarship for four years even before their JEE entrance began.
“We faced immense problems while applying in these colleges, we do not want other Kashmiri students to face similar situations. We want to help and counsel them for various scholarship programmes not just in the US but across the world. There are hundreds of such opportunities which Kashmir students are not aware of and can apply with proper guidance,” 19-year-old Adeeba said, adding that, “this is one of the reasons we started WATH – we wanted to make sure our juniors don’t face similar problems.”
She stressed that Kashmiri students don’t have access to guidance and resources for different opportunities apart from the routine school curriculum.
“Students here have only two options in mind, engineering or medicine and aren’t encouraged to pursue any unconventional careers. We would expose them to different career programs to compete with other students across the world,” Adeeba said.
Shedding some more light on WATH initiative, Adeeba said, “We identify different opportunities for students around the world (colleges, schools, internships, scholarships, summer programs, etc.) We then select a few students for each programme and provide them with mentorship and resources. In addition to helping these selected students, we also create a community platform which is open to everyone. This ensures that we provide resources and a collaborative community to students who weren’t selected.”
WATH, now has a team that is working towards these goals.
Although Moin and Adeeba started this initiative, a lot of other accomplished Kashmiri students and individuals who are pursuing education abroad have joined “to uplift Kashmiri students”.