Cross-Cultural Catholicism

My family has always made a point of going to church no matter where we are, no matter what language the mass is in. We did this for multiple reasons, one being the obvious and somewhat redundant ‘we go to church because we need to go to church.’ But we also do this because Catholicism … Continue reading Cross-Cultural Catholicism


Changing Perceptions

When I told friends I’d be spending the summer studying in Tajikistan, the most common response I got was, “where is Tajikistan?” Tajikistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia, nestled among the other countries that end with –stan, south of Russia and west of China. I decided to come to Dushanbe, the capital of … Continue reading Changing Perceptions

Religion in Kazahkstan

A Kazakh friend recently asked me what had surprised me most about life in Kazakhstan.  Without a doubt, I answered: my host family’s religion. Before I came to Kazakhstan, I expected that my host family would be moderate Muslims. As it turns out, they are recently converted Protestant Christians. My Protestant background has made the … Continue reading Religion in Kazahkstan

Nitrocellulose, Butyl Acetate, and the Hadith

I’m fairly confident that I’ve never discussed nail polish as much as I have this last week. What’s more, I’ve generally been the one bringing the topic up. Last Thursday, the day before the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the 29-year-old mother of my host family sat with me while I ate breakfast. … Continue reading Nitrocellulose, Butyl Acetate, and the Hadith

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

One of the most remarkable aspects of cultural life in Tajikistan is the way in which layers of history and tradition intersect, bringing together ancient and modern, religious and secular, always with family and community at the heart of any celebration. In early November, Tajikistan celebrated Idi Qurbon, a Muslim holiday which remembers Abraham’s willingness … Continue reading The Most Wonderful Time of the Year