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David never got to see the completion of his temple, and some of the best athletes never get that ring, but today I was able to have conversations with three of my Turkmen students online, all of whom are studying abroad, furthering their education, and opening their minds – I consider myself blessed.

I cannot adequately express the overwhelming feeling when I saw that my chatbox flickered with messages from my students online. Not in a million years would I have thought that i would be able to gain access to these vigorous, bright minds again at a few clicks of a button. Ticking and bleeping away in the corner of my screen was the chat box, that virtual space where I was able to strike up grammatically poor conversations with my students once again. We talked about our families, of course, their studies, and what they were doing for Halloween! And from there, we reminisced about the old days when we went to Tejen to party it up with their more worldly and audacious peers from the local city. That day easily makes the top-10-highlights-of-my-life list.

And it hits me now – that my students are in college, that they are getting an education (and doing quite well, I might add), and seeing and experiencing something besides the beating sun and out of reach of the Garagum. And I wonder what questions they’ll ask when the novelty of  their surroundings wears, or when they find themselves alone in their dorm room, or when they see lush green, and yellow, and fiery red in actual, robust trees! I wonder how they will take their teachers and how their teachers will take them, and whether their small-country minds will curiously pursue to understand their Western surroundings or recoil in disgust, or shyness, or fear, or all of the above.  I wonder what kind of friends they will make, and if they will ever break out of their socially ingrained fear of the opposite sex. I wonder if they will still believe in Allah, or if they will shift and adapt a more moderate, agnostic point of view like most students who enter university do.

Actually, I just wonder what I wonder for all my friends 5 years from now – I wonder how they will all change.

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