Yalda Akbari

Yalda Akbari | Afghanistan

Yalda has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She is a women and children’s rights activist, and has worked in this field for more than a decade in Afghanistan.

Her educational journey to the United States started in 2006 when she was only 16 years old. In 2006, Yalda received a one year scholarship to the United States provided by the Department of State called “Youth Exchange Study”. In 2007, Yalda graduated from Douglas County High School in Castle Rock, Colorado. After she graduated, she returned back to what she calls, “her beloved country,” Afghanistan. 

In 2009, she returned to Colorado to pursue a degree in International Affairs at the University of Colorado, Boulder. During the last year of university, friends and family members would ask her what she wanted to do after she graduates. They were shocked with her answer which was that she wanted to return to Afghanistan to help improve the lives of women and children.

Going back to a country such as Afghanistan from the United States sounded crazy to most people. But, for her, returning to Afghanistan and trying to help her people wasn’t an option, it was rather a duty to fulfill. From her perspective and the perspective of those she served between 2012 and 2021, her return to Afghanistan and taking such risks was worth it. 

On August 14th, 2021, the Taliban entered Kabul. As a woman, who was not only educated, but educated in the United States, and who had helped the U.S. and NATO forces, there was no doubt her family and her life were in great danger.  So for the next 10 days, Yalda with her two kids and her husband made several trips to the Kabul Airport attempting to get inside the gates. Finally, on August 25th, her last trip to the airport took place, a US Special Operations Officer and Rescue Helicopter Pilot found them in the crowd, and helped her family get into the airport. Just like in the movies!

Yalda currently lives in Lone Tree Colorado with her husband and two kids.