The News of The Blake School Since 1916

The Spectrum

The News of The Blake School Since 1916

The Spectrum

The News of The Blake School Since 1916

The Spectrum

Minneapolis


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Davin Khan ’24’s Immersion in Tajikistan

A month abroad widens perspective, world view
The+group+visited+Lake+Iskanderkul%2C+one+of+the+daily+excursions+that+Khan+enjoyed.+
Submitted by Khan
The group visited Lake Iskanderkul, one of the daily excursions that Khan enjoyed.

“I really didn’t expect to be able to adjust into the culture so easily and kind of speaking Tajiki became second nature,” says Khan, who was a part of a six week long program from July 1 to Aug. 14 to study Persian through a State Department program called NSLI-Y, which hosts summer programs aiming to teach critical languages. The program entails language classes,cultural experiences such as going to museums, seeing religious sights, and staying with a host family. 

“I am kind of interested in international relations so I kind of wanted to do a global program and have a global experience and learn a new language,” says Khan. “I feel like out of all of the options, Tajikistan is a country that I would never go to outside of doing this program so that kind of also led me to want to do it. The other reason is that I want to learn Farsi, they kind of have an interest in Iran, this was kind of part of that interest. I did an independent study and a paper before.”

From January to July, Khan worked on his independent study based around Iran and how it is perceived in the media. “My paper was about why Iran is not the other and how the Western media kind of portrays it as this sort of completely different thing but history shows that it has a lot of similarities to the West,” says Khan. 

While in the program, Khan noticed many differences between American culture and Tajikistan culture. He comments, “It’s a lot more traditional, it’s a lot more of a patriarchal society. There’s more religious aspects and elements. Almost all of the country is Muslim so I mean that’s kind of like a curve to get adjusted to.” 

Another initial difficulty was living with a host family. “At first it was really difficult, like the first couple of days I really wanted to not be there. Eventually, I really grew to feel a part of my host family, my host mom said that I was practically one of their own,” states Khan, who lived with two host brothers close in age to himself. “It was definitely difficult because they didn’t speak any English and so when I didn’t know anything about the language, I was completely unable to communicate with them except for bits of Google Translate or broken words that I learned.” A large benefit to being immersed in the culture is the language skills. “I definitely think because we were studying it so intensely for six weeks and not just in the classroom but because we were using it outside of the classroom, my skills got a lot better. I am now using it to learn Persian, so I’m starting tutoring to that so I hope that I can use it as a stepping stone to learn Persian,” he notes. 

A typical day in the life for Khan started at 7:40 a.m. when he would wake up to get ready for class which started at 9am. “There were 12 people in the group and we had two teachers so classes were divided into groups of six…Our classroom was in someone’s house so they had rented out like two rooms and then the person that would own the house would cook for us which was really nice, but that was kind of a bizarre experience,” describes Khan. He would have one session of class before getting a break, then another class, and finally a “cultural excursion.” “We would go to a museum or we did these things called axis classes where theres these institutes where they teach Tajiki people English, so we would go there and do presentations and talk to the kids there,” Khan says. 

There was more to the program than just class though, “it was kind of just fun to walk around the city. We were able to explore it on our own in groups so that was really nice. One place that we went to frequently…was one American cafe that also had wifi, which wifi was really hard to find. A lot of times after school we would go to this cafe and download Netflix episodes and have burgers and stuff,” says Khan. He also played soccer with his host family in the street for fun. His favorite memory was “a day trip and we went to this place called Iskanderkul. So in Tajikistan there’s a lot of mountains so it’s basically this lake that’s in the middle of a bunch of mountains and it’s really beautiful and just driving on the mountains was really cool and then like seeing this lake and we did a hike and it was really nice to experience that and see that.”

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About the Contributor
Amelia Bush
Amelia Bush, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Hi everyone! My name is Amelia and I am a senior and a Co-Editor-in-Chief. This year I am editing the food and sports pages. My favorite part of Spectrum is the people, I love the fun supportive energy that it brings. I joined Spectrum freshman year as a writer and became an editor in my sophomore year.

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