Sunday, August 26, 2007

Why Tajikistan?

Tajikistan is certainly a random part of the world to travel to! Most people have never heard of this country even though it borders Afghanistan and is near Pakistan. It is the least developed of all the "Stan" countries and probably the least known.

I heard of it first when a woman from Khojand came to my high school to get perspectives on American Waldorf schools. She came and gave a talk to my senior class about how she had founded a Waldorf School in Central Asia, (with the help of a couple Germans) which was barely five years old and still struggling. At that point the thought of a gap year before college had entered my mind, but I had not made any decisions yet. This woman caught my attention, though, someone who had come a long way to learn about the Waldorf education system and had invested herself into the cause. Canyon (who had similar ideas on a gap year as me) and I ended up meeting with her on numerous occasions, talking about the Waldorf School, as well as Islam, Internet cafes and soccer. We were fascinated by her stories of growing up in a fairly strict Muslim family which she escaped when her father realized her academic potential and sent her to University. Her proud descriptions of Khojand were not that of an impoverished developing town, but of a lively up-beat city where public Internet (costing $.38 an hour) and nightly "foot-ball" games were the norm. By the end of our conversations I was there, in my mind and dreams. And then she extended to both Canyon and me an invitation to come live and work with her at the new Waldorf School in Khojand. When again would I ever be able to travel to such an exotic place? Have the opportunity to be so instrumental in the creation of something I had just spent 13 years immersed within? So I took the opportunity without a second thought.

Though we did ask her about such practicalities as flight arrangements (she went through Moscow) and cost, we really did assume traveling to a place hardly noticeable on a globe to be far easier than it really was. Here we are, just a few weeks from leaving and do we have our tickets or visas? No.

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