This past summer I was able to study Persian in Dushanbe, Tajikistan with the help of American Councils. For Persian language, options for an immersive overseas experience are few and far between. Tajikistan is one of the only places that speaks a form of Persian as its national language and American citizens can safely travel there. As part of the Eurasian Regional Language Program, students also have the opportunity to intern at a local business or non-profits. I knew that I wanted to utilize this benefit because it would give me even more of a chance to see how Persian is used in an office setting, as well as allow me a chance to see a potential future career path.
When I arrived in Dushanbe, I asked my Resident Director if there were any environmental agencies in the area, as this is a field of interest to me. After a few days, Resident Director had set up an interview/meeting with a French environmental non-profit, GERES, for me in the next couple days. One morning the Resident Director and I were driven to the office and I met with the Communications Director and the Office Director, both of whom I would be working with.
GERES, or Group for Environment, Renewable Energies, and Solidarity, is a French organization that provides environmental research and services to vulnerable communities all over the world. Their work in Tajikistan includes helping families transition to bioclimatic cellars, solar green houses, and energy efficient stoves and insulation. They are funded by donors and grants from varying organizations and governments, as well as individual donations.
The office was south of the American Councils office and just near the Opera and Ballet building on the main avenue. I was a little nervous to meet these people, because I was not sure what they wanted me to do this summer. Nonetheless, we found some seats in the director’s office and we discussed why I wanted to work with the organization and how I could potentially help them. We left with an understanding that I would assist in marketing/social media as well as research on the waste management system in Dushanbe.
Throughout the summer, I helped create a social media presence for the Tajikistan office as well as helped in translation and research. However, the most memorable part of the experience was the friends that I met while in the office. One night the director invited the entire office over to this house for dinner, which made me feel valued and appreciated. Around the dinner table, we noticed that there were more than four languages being spoken and it was at this moment I realized that studying abroad has made me confident in situations of intercultural exchange. I easily navigated a situation with different languages, cultures, and perceptions, which I can thank in many parts to the generous support American Councils has given me to experience this opportunity. Without the support of American Councils and my Resident Director, I would not have had such a constructive internship experience, nor the potential for future employment in this organization. My hope is that more students on the Eurasian Regional Language Program take advantage of this wonderful bonus to the language program.
By: Jeremy Slater
Program: Eurasian Regional Language Program, Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Term: Summer 2019