Nov 15, 2022 – Abdul Hasib Azizi “Zi” – One of the joys of being a Rotarian is that you get to meet fellow Rotarians from around the world without having to leave your home nation. Our Rotary Club of Naples Bay decided this year with the recovery from the pandemic and focus on rebuilding the community while increasing membership, we would bring the International Global experience to our Club Meetings. Rotarian Abdul Hasib Azizi (which he prefers to be called “Zi”) kept his promise and visited our RCNB. Having a Rotarian from the St. Petersburg Rotary Club, District 6950 is truly special because of our long history of partnership with their Rotary Club by way of Dr. Robert J. Safransky and our Constitution for the People, Inc. project.
Rotarian Azizi did not disappoint, and his long two hours’ drive from Pinellas County came with great knowledge and insight about his birthplace of Kabul, Afghanistan. History coming from a primary source is always the best source of information and our Rotarians and guest got the real deal. Azizi told us of his childhood as he learned English by way of sneaking in the English stations while listening to radio and viewing the television. His mother and father had high positions in the Afghanistan before present disaster. One can sense the disappointment and loss, (please view the “Bio” for early history living in Afghanistan) but the bitterness only drives him to keep the faith when the good times will return.
The history of Afghanistan was amazing as Azizi shared the early and modern-day history of the entire region. Many American only know of Afghanistan because of our long years of war in the area but this truly is once a small part of the rich history. Please visit our website for the entire Power Point presentation if you missed the meeting because Azizi captured the mood of the August 2021 departure when the American left Afghanistan and how those freedom and positive gains started to erode. Azizi is able to share this history because he lived it both inside and outside of Afghanistan as he was educated at the Swiss University, worked in Orlando, Florida, and continued his education at the St. Petersburg University. His love for traveling allows him to share his story while making sure the truth of his country is never forgotten as well as the return to the glory of the past continues with hope and faith.
Finally, Azizi shared with our members and guests about his love for Rotary and how he has strived to make a difference in his new community of St. Petersburg he now calls home. He is actively involved and has been awarded his first Paul Harris by his Rotary Club. Being an ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce was great as Azizi stated but there is nothing like coming to a Rotary Meeting and learning how fellow Rotarians are making a difference in the community and around the world. It was nice to learn firsthand of the support given by District 6950 toward our Southwest Florida area due to Hurricane Ian. Just another example of how Rotarians are making a difference and meeting the challenges where help is needed.
Service Above Self,
Rotary Club of Naples Bay
Abdul Hasib Azizi “Zi”
BIO: Real Estate Broker, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty Born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan, Zi’s early life was marked by extreme hardship. In 1994 during the Jihadist war to seize Afghanistan, four-year old Zi was wounded when a bullet grazed his head during a firefight. His father also was wounded, and their house burned in a rocket attack. As a young boy, Zi helped support his family by selling cooking oil on the streets of Kabul. The Taliban era brought greater hardships for the family when Zi’s mother was forced to quit the job she had held for 20 years at a bank and his father was briefly jailed. During this time, Zi began to learn English by watching American movies broadcast from a black-market satellite dish installed at night and removed before dawn to avoid punishment by the Taliban. U.S. Special Operations Forces liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban in 2001 and Zi and his family became engaged in supporting coalition efforts. At age17, FedEx hired Zi to deliver packages to the U.S. military and he soon become manager of the FedEx operation serving coalition military and defense contractors. Graduating from the Swiss University for Management, Economics and Finance in Kabul with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in 2013, Zi began working for an Orlando-based U.S. defense contractor that handled programs teaching literacy to the Afghan military. In 2013, Zi was accepted at St. Petersburg College, and in 2015, he became a licensed real estate professional. An ambassador to the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, Zi brings a cross-cultural outlook to clients from around the world. He gives back to his adopted community as an active and proud member of Rotary International. Zi was recognized as Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of St. Petersburg, FL in 2022.