Gulwali PASSARLAY is an Afghan political refugee currently residing in the UK. He left Afghanistan in 2006 and is currently reading Politics and International Relations at the University of Manchester.
In 2007, he arrived in the United Kingdom. At The Starting Point Centre for International New Arrivals, which is now defunct, Passarlay became the school captain, and the community ambassador. In his capacity as the Community Ambassador, he bridged links with the larger community in Bolton, for example, in planting trees and vegetation to make The Starting Point one of the greenest, most eco-friendly units/school in Bolton. Throughout his time here, Passarlay was introduced to the British culture, language, and the mainstream educational system in the UK.
He started his secondary education (Year 10) in 2008/9 at the Essa Academy in Bolton. Here he excelled in his academic subjects, scoring 10 GCSEs within a span of only two years. His outstanding results was not just a testimony of his accomplishment, but he was also a member of the School Council; a member of the Senate in the Academy; a representative of International New Arrivals; a Prefect; and the one and only Ambassador for the Academy. Due to his experiences and commitment to the New Arrivals, Passarlay was invited by other schools in the area to help establish policies and procedures for the new arrivals.
Passarlay’s extra-curricular activities, especially in the areas of volunteering, were foregrounded in 2010. He was a member of Bolton Youth Council, a member of Children in Care Council, and became heavily involved with the Northwest Youth Forum, called Youthforia. His responsibilities included representing the view of young people, attending conferences and events on behalf of the youths, and to voice out the concerns of those who had otherwise been silenced by the community, including children in care and asylum seekers.
The Bolton News covered his story. (See link).
A short documentary by Seal Films (2011) has been made about his experiences as a refugee seeking asylum outside Afghanistan, called Journey of Life.
In 2011, Passarlay had a placement in Bolton Sixth Form College. He studied Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. In college, he was a member of the Student Forum; member of the Equality and Diversity Committee; and a Student Governor. There, he received the BSFC Excellence Award for his immense contribution to college life.
Simultaneously, he attended the Manchester Access Programme (MAP) at the University of Manchester for a year. Following that and having achieved outstanding results for his A Levels, he was accepted into the University of Manchester for his undergraduate studies.
In 2012, Passarlay ran for the Bolton Youth MP election in a bid to campaign to create awareness about the role of the Youth MP (see link). Despite not winning, he has already impacted his community and empowered youths in having a more engaged participation in politics and policy-making. The turnout was exceedingly high for that year, resulting in more than 15,000 votes compared to previous years.
Nonetheless, Passarlay persevered in his commitment towards social change, and was selected to sit on the first ever National Scrutiny Group (NSG), whose aims were twofold:
- Enable Government departments and Ministers to seek young people’s views on the content and implementation of their policies and thereby enable them to make more informed decisions;
- Advise Ministers and departments on appropriate standards for the meaningful and credible involvement of young people in policy development and scrutiny. (see link)
Privileged to represent the Northwest in the NSG, Passarlay wrote on the British Youth Council website:
I have had the honour of being part of the first NSG, which was indeed a wonderful and rewarding experience to be able to make a difference and influence government policies on youth. Volunteering has continued to play an important part in my life, through school, college and now university – I have had the opportunity of involvement and participation in many institutions/groups/committees and other youth led organisations. It has been my passion and dedication to support and represent those from disadvantage background but more so young people in general. Recently I have become involved with and selected to participate in the following: Children’s Commission on Poverty, Youthforia Youth Employment Commission, and Ambassador for 2020 Education.
Not surprisingly, the Bolton News again featured Passarlay’s involvement with the National Scrutiny Group on 12th September 2012. (See link)
In the same year, Passarlay was the one of the 8,000 torch-bearers — and arguably the first Afghan — to carry the Olympic torch in Burnley, UK. This was presumably because of his enormous contribution to the local community in Bolton.
In 2013, Passarlay began his undergraduate studies at the University of Manchester, where his story was already picked up and widely published online. The UoM called him “the UK’s most remarkable student” (see link), and the School of the Social Sciences spotlighted him as well (see link).
He was also featured by the Office of Social Responsibility as one of the people at the University making a difference in the world, in an initiative called “Making A Difference” (see link).
At the launch of the “Making A Difference”, Passarlay was introduced to the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, who was impressed with this young man’s enthusiasm and commitment to social change.
Last updated on 13 April 2014.