Ohio Northern University is hosting a guest from Uzbekistan this fall semester. Dr. Feruza Khajieva was selected along with three of her colleagues to come study in America for 4 months. While Dr. Khajieva has come here for the fall semester before exploring Michigan, Florida and Minnesota, there are thirty other teachers from Uzbekistan observing universities in Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, Colorado, Georgia, Arkansas, Hartwick College and more.
The Faculty Enrichment program which selected Dr. Khajieva and her colleagues is funded by the American Embassy located in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The program that this opportunity comes from is the American Councils for International Education.
“It was an extensive selection process”, Dr. Khajieva said, “but studying in America was a dream of mine from my own University days”.
One of the challenges her University, Bukhara State University, faces is that the majority of the books in their library are written in Russian and are slanted by Russian ideals. Since Uzbekistan gained its independence in 1991, its primary language was established as Uzbek, however, it takes time to create content in this language.
“Here, the students are given many practical assignments. At home, we mainly study theory.” Dr. Khajieva said, explaining some of the differences between the two educational systems. The professors here are free to create their own assignments, syllabi, and curriculum for their classes. In Uzbekistan, there are not many materials available to teach from, and most of the curriculum is provided by the administration, not created by the teachers. Dr. Khajieva would like to implement the new styles of teaching and constructing curriculum and syllabi that she has observed here.
A large part of Dr. Khajieva’s work here in the US has been creating materials for her classes and University. Currently, she is writing a new textbook American Literature in English with the help of Dr. Margaret Cullen, Associate Professor of English here at ONU.
“I didn’t realize a university could be in a Village.” Dr. Khajieva stated, she had always pictured America with the big cities and expansive skylines, so the little village of Ada surrounded by fields of corn on all sides was a bit of a shock. She said that she likes how quiet it is here, “there is so much nature around here, and the people are so kind and helpful.” One of the advantages of being in a village, Dr. Khajieva noticed, is that the social lives of the students revolve around the campus, not so much around the surrounding community, so they are more focused on their studies.
There are a few cultural differences that stand out to Dr. Khajieva. If people stand in lines at home in Bukhara, the older people are given priority and encouraged to move to the front of the line by the younger people, and when a teacher enters the classroom at Bukhara State University, the students stand to greet them.
However, Dr. Khajieva remarked that people smile a lot more here. Just passing in the street or walking, when someone recognizes you, they will smile and wave, or if you are walking across a street, the cars will stop, and the drivers wave you on with a smile. “I like it here”, Dr. Khajieva said, “but I miss my home, my city, and my family.”
Bukhara is home to a structure called the Minaret. It stands tall looming 149.6 feet over the desert city. It is a lighthouse that has guided caravans traveling along the silk road to safety since it was built in 1127. Every time Dr. Feruza Khajieva comes home from her travels, it is standing there waiting to greet her, and it will be standing still when she comes back from America in a few months’ time bringing with her new ideas and materials to share.