We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
AUA Summer Service Intern Shana Brouder shares her thoughts in her pre-departure blog post about serving in Tajikistan with the Bactria Cultural Centre.
The original post was originally written by Shana.
Sitting here, writing this post, I can still not comprehend how lucky I am to travel to Tajikistan and intern at the Bactria Cultural Centre. Most Americans do not even know where Tajikistan is, let alone get the opportunity to work there. Every time I explain to someone new about my upcoming adventure, I have to draw my invisible map of the world and point it out to him or her. This usually gets an “Ohhhhh” response as they pretend to know where it is, but as we both know, they do not. However, this is why I am so excited to go there. As a student of international affairs, I know just how big this world is and it has inspired me to travel to as many different and interesting places as I can. The opportunity afforded to me by AUA will help me do just that. I am very humbled to be participating in this unique experience with America’s Unofficial Ambassadors.
Spending time in Tanzania on a school seminar trip has excited me more about my upcoming travels. I have learned so much in my time in Tanzania and now feel ready to travel once again out of my comfort zone and get to know a brand new place. It will only take 5 flights and little over 24 hours total travel time to get there! And while this trip may make me never want to see the inside of a plane for a while, I am very exited about working at such a great organization. Honestly, I had never heard of the Bactria Cultural Centre previous to my application to AUA. After researching the organization, I could not think of a better way to spend 6 weeks than interning their in the Cultural Department, helping to better the organization as a whole while participating in events that will teach me so much about Tajik culture. I find the work being done at the Bactria Centre to be very important. It is helping the society reconcile in a fun and more interesting way than most textbooks prescribe.
After seeing 2 weeks fly by in Tanzania, I know that 6 weeks in Tajikistan will also fly by, so I am determined to make the most of them. Through this internship I want to better my language skills, learn about a new culture, and then be able to bring my experience home with me so that I may educate my community not only on Tajik issues, but also Muslim issues as a whole. Specifically concerning my position as the Cultural Department Intern, I am most excited to use my skills as an event planner at my university, Washington College, to help improve and/or make more effective the cultural event schedule at the Bactria Centre. Also, I am looking forward to starting the English conversation series there. I am planning on making the series thematic as to always make the conversations interesting for all parties. I do know that I have a tendency to speak fast so that will definitely be a challenge for me. However, I believe that through some careful practice, I will be able to overcome this challenge.
I am definitely using this experience as the start of my professional career. Being an international studies student, there is nearly an infinite amount of career paths you can chose from: government work, peace core, United Nations, international law, diplomacy, consulting, intelligence, non-profit, for profit….you get the picture. I plan to use my internship to test out the possibilities of going into non-profits or NGOs as a career choice for myself. After all, what better way to make an informed decision than to try one out!
I am not naive about this internship. I know that I will have good days and bad days. However, I cannot be afraid to travel into the unknown and try something new, especially when I know it will have such a positive impact on the people there. I will take my apprehensions and turn them into excitements and positive thinking. This trip is the opportunity of a lifetime and I intend on making the best out of it! After all, you only get out of something like this, what you put into it.