One language in which Amarkhail was plenty fluent however was that of sport — soccer, to be specific. It just so happened that his coach at Somerset turned out to be an English teacher, Brian Blankenship. When standing on stage at Wednesday’s ceremony in the W.B. Jones Auditorium, searching the words to thank all those who had helped him along his way, Amarkhail took special care to show appreciation for the attention paid to him by Blankenship.
That kind of nurturing is something the “people of Somerset do,” according to Cornett.
“It’s a family atmosphere,” he said. “They were very good to him. Most of the students were, and the teachers were. I know that he has spent a lot of time with some teachers, such as Mr. Blankenship.”
It’s the kind of welcome the Amarkhails were promised when they first touched down in the United States years ago. Initially the family — a “big” one, as Nas put it, since he’s one of three boys along with three girl children — was headed to California.
But when they got to the airport in Atlanta, said Amarkhail, his father Obaidullah, who now works for the U.S. Army, got an email from a friend from here in Somerset, Zabihullah Khyber, who passed along a key piece of advice.
“His friend told him that if you want to live in a place where you can take care of your children, get good education, be around good people, you should definitely come to Somerset,” said Nas Amarkhail, “so that’s one reason why I came here.”
It’s a big difference from what he knew before in Afghanistan — “Much different,” said Amarkhail. “Where I used to (live), just to go to school it was dangerous, because of the wars going on and everything.