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A University of Kansas student rushed to rescue his family from Kabul

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Head on medium shot of young man on the left with dark hair, trim moustache and beard wearing a light brown suit and playing a trumpet standing next to the conductor of the U.S. Army Band in dress uniform with his back to the camera as he leads the band.
KCUR
On September 11, 2021 Ahmad "Baset" Azizi (above, left) performed with the U.S. Army Band in Washington, D.C. where earlier in the day he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and performed "Taps" at the WWI memorial.

It was Baset Azizi's love of music that led him from Afghanistan to Kansas. Six years later he was helping his family make the trip for very different reasons.

Ahmad "Baset" Azizi is a student at the University of Kansas. He left Afghanistan at the age of 16 to study music in America, leaving behind his parents and siblings.

Recalling his impression of arriving in the U.S. Azizi says, "I felt this was home once I arrived because I was surrounded by so many kind people, that I didn't even realize I was in a new country."

When the U.S. began its final withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban swiftly took over the country, Baset started working to get his family out and to America.

His father went to work for the Ministry of Defense during the time the United States was in Afghanistan. The former member of the Afghan national guard interacted with the U.S. and NATO as a type of analyst according to Baset.

In coordinating his family's exit from Kabul, Azizi, who is pursuing a triple major in music, political science, and global and international studies, was in frequent contact with his father and that meant accounting for the eight hour time difference.

That caused a disruption to Azizi's schedule and he would find himself napping while waiting for a meeting our until his phone rang. He views it this way, "My family didn't leave their house for 9 days, so for me to just go to sleep or enjoy a meal was just not an option at that time."

After gathering all the necessary documents and verifications, Baset's parents and his three sisters made it through the airport gate which just 24 hours later would be the target of a suicide bombing.

The family is now in Abu Dhabi awaiting word on a flight to the United States.

As for once they are with him in Lawrence, Kansas, Baset Azizi says, "We will all be together. We do not want to be away from each other once we are reunited again after so many years."

  • Baset Azizi, student, University of Kansas
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As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.