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Tajikistan (among other adventures)

June 10, 2011

Dear family (because Mom, Dad and Greg you are probably the only people in the world who will actually read all my posts),

This is my first ever blog, and I’m not 100% sure what all to write about. This being my first entry after a week of being gone from the States, I also have more to say in this post than would be usual. So excuse the length, I will try to keep things candid.

My sojourn to the littlest ‘stan began on Friday June 3rd, as you may recall. I landed in Munich on time and wasw greeted at the airport by my classmate from Morocco, Brian. We explored Muncih together, hit up some biergartens, and then stumbled across a late night street party. Sunday we drove back to Grafenwhur (sp??) where Brian is based, and discovered that his town was celebrating its 650th Birthday. I apparently have great travel karma as far as finding parties goes, go figure.

Monday was uneventful….so Tuesday. Ohhhh Tuesday. Tuesday let me know that though I may have travel party karma, I did NOT have travel-travel karma.

Tuesday went not according to plan. I don’t want to drag everyone through my tragic day because it ended fine on Wednesday morning with me safe and sound in Dushanbe. After meeting the entire office staff in Dushanbe (which coincidentally means Monday, Dushanbe was known for its Monday markets) I got to meet up with Zulfira and Parvis, who are family friends of my Aunt and Uncle. It was incredible to see them again. They took me to a nice Tajik dinner at Seem Seem (Tajik for Seasame).

Backstory on Zulfira and Parvis for ease of understanding: They came to Boise, ID so Zulfira could get her masters from Boise State. There they met my Aunt Jarie and Uncle Paul, who work at BSU, and they all became very very close friends. Zulfira and Parvis have two very active boys, Komil and Umad. Zulfira was one of the 10 students to actually graduate from BSU the year she completed her degree (sorry Paul and Jarie, couldn’t resist). So long story short, they had to leave the US thanks to our government’s shitty immigration laws, and are residing in Dushanbe. Small freaking world!

This brings us to Thursday, the day when I headed down to Shaartuz, where I am going to be based for most of the summer. I sat in at a round table discussion, hosted by Mercy Corps, with community leaders from around the area to get a consensus for the goals and work to be done over the next couple years.

Aside (aka ignore all of this unless you care to read my rantings on international development) Mercy Corps is one of those outstanding development organizations that works with a truly ground up approach. This means that their programs are often designed by the communities where Mercy Corps’ programs are located and merely facilitated and funded by Mercy Corps. This means my role as an intern is to essentially manage the changes to the watermelon value chain that the farmers want to see. Another pragmatic part of Mercy Corps’ workings: John and I are the only two Americans in the Shaartuz office. Everyone else is Tajik, or a citizen of Tajikistan. This has helped my Tajik language skills improve exponentially. I can actually speak sentences after 2 days in country (granted I sound like a 2 year old, but I’m stoked).

Back to the scheduled programming: Friday morning I got to go to a field training to meet a group of farmers who will be working with us on researching the viability of using higher quality inputs. In english this means that Mercy Corps is going to see if there is a difference in quality and yield with more costly, but better quality inputs, and then explore new markets for this extra or changed output (watermelons).

Now that I have put all my readers to sleep with that brief economics lesson, I will say higrh, goodbye, for now!

Peace

Kim

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul Castelin permalink
    June 12, 2011 21:56

    YO, Kim!!! Loving your blog post! Jarie and I read it this morning and totally love your writing. What an exciting real-world adventure.

    Also, want you to know that we couldn’t love you more! We’ll try to wait patiently for the next narrative!!

    Like

    • June 13, 2011 13:42

      Paul and Jarie,
      Thank you so much for the comment! What a nice first-ever! I’m triyng to figure out the finer points of this whole blog thing (as in adding cool media etc to make this more entertaining than just my words). Love you both so very much!

      Like

  2. June 17, 2011 00:52

    Kim,
    Super job on your blog. I love reading about your adventures and that you could meet up with Paul and Jarie’s friends.

    This is so handy to have on my phone so I can spend break time hearing what’s haappening in your world of little istan half away around the world.

    Love, Mom
    P.S. Yesterday Chris and I walked Keith’s new puppy (a Whippet named Dashielle). So cute.

    Like

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