Victoria Breshears reflects on her summer on the Eurasian Regional Language Program in Dushanbe as a Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad scholarship recipient and media in Tajikistan.
As I sit here getting packed to head home, I cannot fathom the changes I have gone through while in Tajikistan. Although I have only been here for five months, I feel like I have experienced it for a far longer time. As I pack, I hear my host mother and family talk in the courtyard about my host brother’s new baby. They are so proud. Also, the baby is something to reflect on. While I have experienced a verging of cultures here in Tajikistan, when I see and reflect on the baby and my host family’s reaction to the little one, everything comes together. The child is an individual like me, although one that will grow up in the quickly changing city of Dushanbe.
Furthermore, with my last week here, Childish Gambino’s “This is America” music video came out and exploded onto the American music scene. I have heard little of it far away in Tajikistan but I was able to view it (many times in fact) on YouTube and discuss it with my fellow American students. While most may find this act as unimportant, this video in itself speaks a lot to what is going on in the United States right now in the media, culture and political rhetoric. Being able to reflect on everything that combines to create the chaotic sense of culture is fascinating to do, especially in a country quite different than the United States.
I get to watch Russian news and game shows (my host family loved watching Russian shows), and Tajik-dubbed Russian classical films for my daily media. I have been able to experience another culture’s angst, history, hopes and fears through media and the discussion that comes with it. And with that, I reflect on my culture’s own. Perspective is gained anytime one goes and experiences living abroad, and that what makes it so extremely valuable. Instead of watching YouTube, I got to go watch men battle on horseback for a goat carcass (buzkhashi is quite amazing). Instead of seeing the latest Amazon-made movie, I went and watched a Tajik romantic comedy that offered an incredible amount of cheese. And while I still did partake in the latest Marvel movie when it came to Dushanbe (Black Panther), I experienced watching it in Russian with an audience that was not as familiar with a cast that is almost entirely African or African-American. These are some of the minor experiences that gave me perspective, ideas, and hope about the future. And all because I went to study in a little-known country in Central Asia.
About Fulbright-Hays Scholarships from American Councils
American Councils for International Education has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad, to provide scholarships for advanced overseas Russian and Persian language study. Learn more about the eligibility requirements here.
About Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad
The Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act, commonly referred to as the Fulbright-Hays Act, was made law by the 87th U.S. Congress under President John F. Kennedy on September 21, 1961. Senator J. William Fulbright and Representative Wayne Hays introduced the legislation, which represents the basic charter for U.S. government-sponsored educational and cultural exchange. 2016 marks the 55th anniversary of this landmark legislation. More information about Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad can be found here.