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.

Going Big

Samantha Falvey (Sammi) is a senior majoring in History at the College of New Jersey with experience in American Sign Language and Arabic. When Sammi graduates, she dreams of pursuing her career as a history professor. This summer she will spend her summer in Tajikistan, teaching English at the Dushanbe Boarding School and the University of Commerce. Subscribe to our blog to follow Sammi on her adventure!

Going Big

By Samantha Falvey

In four days, I’ll wake up in a new bed. I am not going to recognize the room I’m in and my daily rituals are not going to apply anymore. In three days, I will be crossing the world, by-passing all of the places my family would have imagined my first study abroad program to be in. In two days, I will be saying goodbye to my best friend and he will watch me walk into the airport and wave goodbye.

In my head I have run through scenario after scenario about my flights, arrivals, daily activities, and possible experiences. I have finally come to the conclusion that I need to just let go.

Sammi Falvey

Sammi Falvey

I was born in a quiet town on the river in New Jersey. For years all I have known is the beach on the East Coast. My family moved to an even simpler town a few years back, and I entered a college that is just as uncomplicated. No night life. No hustle and bustle. Last year, I got on a plane for the first time since elementary school and I went to a conference in Wisconsin. That is the farthest I have been from home. Needless to say, I don’t have any way of mentally preparing for my stay in Tajikistan, realistically.

And that is why I have let go. I have let go of my anxieties about travel. I let go of my fears of incompetency in my placements. I have let go of the guilt of having my family worry about my safety. I have let go of my obsessive fretting over the minute details in these last few days

before the flight. Why? Because I didn’t sign up to volunteer as the nervous wreck. I have prepared myself as best I can as a person who has never been to a Muslim country or even a place farther than eight hours away. Instead, I have decided to get excited about all of the great things I hope to do in Tajikistan. I am going to be learning a new language, rich in historical and cultural context. I am going to make connections with people of all ages, classes, schools of thoughts, religious backgrounds, and so on. I am going to make friends. I am going to impact students of different ages and abilities through my focused teaching of English and American culture. I will connect with these individuals on different levels by getting to know them and building a bridge between us; two people, worlds apart.

The two day transition from college to home to Tajikistan

The two day transition from college to home to Tajikistan

I am proud to be going because I want to try and help someone learn something. I hope to help my students develop their English language abilities. But, at the least, I want to give them a piece of myself as an example of the idea that anything is possible in this world. As fanciful as that may sound, it is a part of American culture to believe that we can achieve what we set our minds to. In the end, I just want to open doors, if that is at all possible. And I plan on doing whatever I can to make that happen in the next six weeks.


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