During my exchange through Global UGRAD, I tried to travel to different places to discover the United States from interesting perspectives. After I returned to Tajikistan, I continued to travel but this time exploring Central Asia. Consequently, a month after my return home, I ventured to Uzbekistan. During the trip, I remembered my tight connections with some of the Global UGRAD students from Uzbekistan. One of them was Sabina Abrorzoda Akhroriy, who lives in Samarkand, a city in the south-east. Sabina and I became good friends during the Global UGRAD End of Program Summit in Washington, DC. We even traveled to New York together to explore more of the U.S. Unfortunately, I did not see Sabina in Samarkand during my trip; however, I did remember her stories about this wonderful city. With big pleasure I explored Samarkand, meeting many Tajik people who made me feel at home. Samarkand is a beautiful city whose walls are full of history. My mother is a history teacher, and she always told me that Tajik and Uzbek people share many things in common, including history. I also experienced that historical connection of our people. I explored almost all the city attractions of Samarkand. This city impressed me by its beauty, and I fell in love with it.
I continued exploring Uzbekistan by visiting its capital Tashkent. There I contacted Guzalya, who is also a Global UGRAD student during my semester. She arranged a meeting with fellow Global UGRAD, Durbek, and it was one of the most memorable moments of my trip. Often, when the U.S. exchange year is over, students think they will never again meet their newly-made friends from the program. However, Global UGRAD is an exception because its graduates are living in many corners of the world. I was very happy to see Guzalya and Durbek. They told me about the history and lifestyle of Uzbek people and also touched on a few other social schemes of the country’s development. I love our neighbors from Uzbekistan, and I was fascinated to learn about the country from Durbek. Moreover, Guzalya and I went on a long walk that lasted until late in the evening. We talked about our U.S. experience and our new lives after the return to our home countries. We had a fun time. Now I have made an even stronger friendship connection with Guzalya and Durbek than before, and am waiting for them to come visit me in Tajikistan. The Global UGRAD Program helps to make friendships not only with Americans, but also with internationals, which allows you to explore your home country’s neighboring countries. Now, with confidence, I can point my finger to any country on the map and be sure I will find my fellow Global UGRADs living there.
Written by Shahnoz Bakhtiyorova, 2018-19 Global UGRAD student, Tajikistan, Missouri State University