Tojiddin (my hosting teacher) took me to visit a Lyceum, or private school, across town today. These schools charge tution and generally have more resources than the public or comprehensive schools.

Students standing to greet me in an English class. They are grouped according to level, not grade. The teacher is in the back.

Here again, I was given a royal welcome by the teachers, staff, and students. Students here, as in school #9 where I co-teach, are enthusiastic and most are eager to practice their English. I occurred to me how my native language is seen by so many in the world as a key to a better future, a way to become more integrated in the global system. I remembered in the Istanbul airport when the staff wanted to make an annoucement to everyone waiting to board the plane that they instinctively used English to address as many people as possible. This observation is usually lost to Americans who simply take English for granted and expect it to have preceeded them everywhere they go in the world. Learning English has great significance for these students and it was my pleasure to be a small part of it.

My general introduction to English classes here was to tell some things

Tojiddin, the Lyceum English teacher and I with students.

about myself, where I am from, about my family and what my hobbies are. When the students returned this information to be about themselves I learn much about their lives and culture. Family is very important to Tajiks and they greatly respect the order and patriarchy of traditional family structures. In terms of music, they seemed to like both their Tajik artists as well as well some well known American pop music and movies. Globalization has not diminished their love of their own country, and they proudly talked about their national heritage, foods, musicians and poets. Naturally the boys all loved soccer (football) but what surprised me was how many children loved to play volleyball. Basketball was also very popular. From one side of the world to the other, no matter our cultural or historical differences, there are enough similarities bewteen us to unite us in the common lot of humanity. Cultural exchanges always bring out the idealist in me.

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