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.
Amaris Prince is a sophomore studying English and Education at Guilford College. This summer she will be interning with America’s Unofficial Ambassadors working with the Bactria Cultural Center teaching English and helping out with different cultural events. In her free time, she enjoys singing, dancing and working with kids. When Amaris graduates, she would like to volunteer with Peace Core or The Fullbright Program and then work in government on education policies or work in higher education. Wonder what Amaris was thinking before her 6504 mile journey across he globe? Read her blog entry below to find out!
“Why so Far Amaris?”
6504 miles is the distance that I will travel my home in the Bronx, New York to Tajikistan. As a Christian young woman from New York with Jamaican parents, travelling to a Muslim country 6504 miles away in the middle of what they perceive as a dangerous place, did not seem like an internship the family wanted to support. My parents asked, “why so far? Amaris, could you not have done an internship closer to home?”
Taking an internship closer home was possible, but I want to expand my understanding of the Muslim culture, and journey beyond the borders of New York through this program. Since 9/11 the media has portrayed the Muslim culture in a damaging light. Some Americans are now misguided and have not traveled to any Muslim country because of their lack of understanding of the Muslim culture. Sometimes, people mistreat Muslims and refer to them as terrorists. My parents were also caught up in the stereotypes of “Muslim culture” and they feared for my safety. I look forward to sharing my transforming and life changing experiences with them and with others when I return.
In addition to learning more and changing people’s opinions, I chose to apply for this program because of its academic and experiential merit. This program will give me the opportunity to test my knowledge and abilities, and I am especially excited about the opportunity to use these skills abroad. The AUA program is a chance to participate in the Tajik curriculum, and to learn how to motivate and engage the children in their studies. I look forward to the experience with optimism.
In addition to being a good teacher, I want to be a positive representative of the American culture, as well as bringing back a positive experience from the Muslim World to share with friends and family. I look forward to sharing our similarities, as well as understanding and appreciating our unique differences. Although the differences of our cultures divide us, by spending time together we share similarities, for we all have friends, family, dreams, hopes, goals and fears in life.
For this program, I expect that there will be challenges such as a language barrier, but I will continue to push, endure, encourage and carry on learning with my students and colleagues. It will be fulfilling to teach and develop relationships with the students and fellow ambassadors. Apart from teaching, I’m excited to emerge into a new and remarkable world where I will interact with the Muslim culture, taste new food, and become accustomed to a new language and land.
Yes, 6405 miles is really far from home, but the knowledge I gain through AUA will never compare to distance I traveled to be here. I want to build relationships with people who are not only interested in giving of themselves during this program, but also for their whole lives. By the end of this program, I will build a lifetime global network of connections and friendships.