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.
Noureen is enchanted by the warmth Tajikistan has given and reflects on the moments at the Tajik University of Commerce and the Dushanbe Boarding School where she is volunteering for our Summer Service Program. She also spends time in Varzob and tries national foods such as “Qurutob”.
Salom! I have made it to Tajikistan and have started my service in my placements. This experience so far has been nothing but positive and novel, however, I felt words could not capture that. So here’s a few pictures from my experiences thus far that I felt showed the vibrant people and nature I was experiencing here, and could also show my favorite moments from this trip so far. Thanks for reading and I hope to write again soon!
This picture was taken at my very first day of work at the university. There were a group of girls who waited until my lunch time to take me out and have one of the national foods of Tajikistan, qurutob! Not only did they make sure I was comfortable and happy, they genuinely just wanted to show their Tajik food and culture through their friendly personalities and warm hearts. Definitely one of the best ways to greet the Tajik culture.
As I have two placements: the morning at the University of Commerce and the afternoon at the Dushanbe Boarding School, I get the pleasure of working with two different age groups of Tajik youth. Here is one of the US Embassy supported programs, ACCESS, at their celebration showing all that they’ve learned about American culture. Now that the program is over, I only work with a few of the kids pictured, however, the amount of energy and inspiration all of these kids provided me with the one week of arrival in Tajikistan was unbelievable.
On our second weekend in Tajikistan, we had our first excursion to the small summer town of Varzob. This is Britta, a fellow unofficial ambassador, and myself standing on one of the rocks in the river. We had just finished a three hour hike, and with our feet sore and our bodies burning up, we hopped into the cold river. Not only was the water extremely clean and clear, but the mountains surrounding us were a sight to behold. This was the second time I’d ever gone hiking and I’ve never been in love with a more beautiful landscape.
For another excursion, we went to the Botanical Garden here in Dushanbe. The amount of beauty as well as diversity seen in the garden was a delight. Not only was it a garden, the amount of socialization and uses of the garden were interesting to watch. We saw at least five weddings happen around us, as well as many families out on a Saturday morning for a stroll with their kids or company with their loved ones. It definitely felt like just being a Tajik going about their daily life.
One of the biggest reasons I chose to come to Tajikistan, of all the other countries I could’ve picked to be an unofficial ambassador in, was due to my religion. I am a Shia Ismaili Muslim, a very small denomination of Islam with a very high population in Tajikistan. Here, with some of my fellow ambassadors, we took a tour of the Ismaili Center of Dushanbe, which acts as my place of worship. This was an experience that meant beyond words, as I got to see the building in which my fellow Ismailis from across the world practice their faith, as well as interact with a few of them and exchange conversation and experiences.