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Young alumni

Abbas Nazari

24 July 2023

BA Political Science, BA(Hons) Diplomacy and International Relations 2016

Bestselling author and speaker


Abbas' memoir After The Tampa retraces his family's journey from their village in the mountains of Afghanistan to rebuilding a new life in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Order your copy of After the Tampa now.


Can you tell us about what led you to study at UC?

Christchurch is home for me. When I finished at Burnside High School, I thought about studying elsewhere in New Zealand, but the thought of being in Christchurch to play a part in the Canterbury rebuild, the campus’ close proximity to the Southern Alps, and the generous scholarship offer made UC the obvious first choice.

You were a Fulbright Scholar in 2019 – can you explain what that is for those who are not aware, and what opportunities it gave you?

The Fulbright New Zealand Graduate Scholarship is a golden ticket to postgraduate study in the US. I applied to four US universities and eventually decided on Georgetown University for a number of reasons, including the academic offering and its location in the American capital. As well as the significant financial contribution, it is an opportunity to understand American culture vis-à-vis one’s own. It is open to students of all academic backgrounds, and I highly recommend applying. Applications are due 1 August every year

Your personal experiences of your family seeking refuge from Afghanistan are ones you generously share through your writing, and this year (2021), your book After the Tampa is being released. Can you tell us about your experience writing it?

Following news of my Fulbright scholarship being made public, I was approached to write the story of how. I was very hesitant and rejected the offer at first. Thankfully, the team at Allen and Unwin kept the offer open. I was in the US when the first COVID lockdown hit in March 2020, and with nothing else to do, I started writing. It’s been the most productive I’ve been, and I’m incredibly proud to share the book with you all.

You have recently graduated with your Masters of Security Studies at Georgetown University in the US - what’s your next adventure?

I’ll be going on a little book tour of NZ and Australia over August and September 2021. Beyond that, I have no idea. The lockdown has taught me that while structure can be good, we also have to be flexible. One of the central themes of my book is that opportunity resembles some unusual shapes and often looks like a whole lot of hard work. I’m open to whatever comes my way.

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