America's Unofficial Ambassadors

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.

Photo Exhibitions at Bactria and Dushanbe.

From working at the Bactria Cultural Center to orchestrating a small documentary series, Shana Brouder is doing an amazing job acting as a citizen diplomat in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.  

Arriving in Tajikistan was an incredible experience! Although, it was deceivingly similar to the United States at 4 am when my plane arrived, I soon found out that the adjustment would not be as easy as I believed. The language barrier was a lot harder than I expected. Most people here do not speak and English, and I have learned neither Tajiki nor Russian so it was hard to learn how to communicate with people. Thankfully Anabelle had taken 2 years of Persian and 1 year of Russian at school so we had our own personal translator around when Faridun was not available. Myself along with the other girls quickly discovered that we did know enough Russian to enjoy some good USSR, or should I say CCCP ice cream from the corner store just below our apartment!

My supervisor from Bactria, Kirill, invited us over for a nice home cooked dinner at his house our first Saturday. Having such nice people surrounding us made adjusting to life in Dushanbe that much easier. While some of us were missing home, it was nice to be welcomed into someone else’s home and feel that same family atmosphere.

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Working in Bactria has been an amazing experience so far! Being the cultural intern, I have been put solely in charge of the Photo Exhibition we will be hosting this Friday at Bactria. I included some of the photos of me working with Pierre, the photographer, as we worked on the selection and matching process of the photos that will be in the exhibition. I have a very active role in Bactria that definitely keeps me busy! I work on communication of various events that we will be having in the coming weeks, editing English for other articles and text meant for the website, as well as developing partnerships with other organizations in Dushanbe. I have been lucky enough to attend meetings with various people, include the Handicraftsmen Union representative, general manager of the Serena Hotel, and the organizer of RCVC Center for disadvantaged youth. All in all I have come out of these short two weeks with a very firm idea of how these types of NGOs function and how they work actively everyday to maintain important partnerships within the community they are trying to help. I have also been put in charge of a small documentary series that will run starting next week. I have also included a photo of the movies that I will be showing through the series. Since the French Embassy is sponsoring the event, all of the films will be played in French audio, hence the French titles!

Through my work with Bactria I have also gotten to visit many different types of venues used by the center. My favorite one though has to be this restaurant they use for concerts when applicapble. It was just so beautiful on the inside! I have included of photo of the ceiling of the venue so you can all understand the detail of the art and craftsmanship that makes this particular venue so unique.

Thankfully it was not all work with no play! We were lucky enough to visit Varzob on Saturday. It was beautiful and the view was absolutely incredible! Coming from New York City, I had never seen the mountains before. We went on a hike and the nature was just breath-taking. We also got to celebrate Britta’s 22nd birthday! Faridun was nice enough to take us to the arket so we could get some new kurta-s and ezahad-s (traditional Tajik dresses) made for us. We finished the night off by making Britta an American style birthday “brinner” because nothing makes you feel more at home than grilled cheese, eggs, french toast, and some real Heinz ketchup!

I am thankful every day for such an amazing opportunity this internship has been and is continuing to be. Each day I learn something new about myself as well as the Tajik culture. And my Russian is improving which is always nice! I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time here will bring.

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