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In a small Tajik Village in Xinjiang, China where the borders of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India meet to create one of the most ethnically diverse parts of the world, dinner usually means a bowl of sour-milk tea and homemade bread. Yet however modest the dinner table may be, hospitality and stories to be exchanged abound. After all, it is for a reason that the sole decoration in the living room of this Tajik family consists of colorful pillows and blankets for visitors, piled up against the walls of the room Indeed there is so much to be seen, experienced and learned by visiting this humble home, which is so distant from everything that we take for granted in our daily lives, yet is surely equally valid and meaningful.
Mari Michener Oye
Timothy Dwight College 11
Les Aspin '60 International Public Service Fellowship
Karakul sheep block the road to Pamir, Tajikistan, reflected in a Jeep window and a young passenger's eyes. Herders drive the animals into the mountains to graze in summer, and bring them back in autumn, blocking the dirt road that connects Tajikistan's eastern and western regions. For travelers on the road, the herd is an inconvenience. For Matine, a three-year-old half Pamiri, half Canadian girl visiting her homeland for the first time, the sight is astounding. I traveled to Tajikistan to research national identity for my senior thesis, supported by the Les Aspin '60 International Public Service Fellowship. This image captures some of my own excitement at the scale of the place's beauty, along with its unique mixture of the ancient and the modern.
This photo was taken at a roman ruin just outside the city of Amman, on one of the first days after we arrived in Jordan. Until this point, we had been busy with program orientation, and had been exposed only to other westerners. The moment depicted in the picture represented our first genuine interaction with the local culture, and the Palestinian-Jordanian man in it - braced against the wind, looking out towards the Dead Sea, and, beyond it, Israel - encapsulates the serenity and sense of loss that would come to define our interaction with Jordanian identity.
We went to the Batey with the goal of understanding the life of the Haitian immigrant worker. We left with an understanding of the importance of education. In this three-sided building there were religious services, community meetings, and clinic visits- but perhaps most importantly, reading and writing classes. These classes are provided through the graciousness of organizations; it is through international influence that education has become the most powerful development tool. It is my hope that one day this girl will not only be able to climb onto the bench, but be able to sit up straight and proudly read from the blackboard. As we expand ourselves by studying, serving, and living in other cultures, we in turn help to instill the power of education.
The essence of a country cannot be entirely captured until you experience it in person. This photograph captures a residential street in Cuba's second largest city, Santiago de Cuba. It tells two stories: that of the past and also the present. Years ago, this was a wealthy neighborhood with lavish housing for the wealthy and excellent public transportation. Now, fifty years later, buildings deteriorate and modern transportation of any sort is nonexistent, yet Cubans continued to smile and greet me eagerly into their culture. Travel sparks an awakening: a call to me to see a different story not everyone has the opportunity to see and the obligation to show others what lies on the outskirts of the world.