connection, education, opportunity

University of New Mexico:  International Business Students Global; Dr. Manuel Montoya, Professor at the Anderson School of Management; Nicole Tami, Executive Director, Global Education Initiative; Global Education Office; International Studies Institute; Dr. Cristyn Elder, Associate Professor of English; Anne Callaghan, Diplomat in Residence.

Chris Schueler, Emmy Award winning documentary film maker, Albuquerque, New Mexico. View Chris Schuler's projects with Bridges to Tajikistan

Rotary Club of Albuquerque – Rio Grande

America’s Unofficial Ambassadors, Washington, D.C.

Global One to One, formerly Project PeacePal, Albuquerque, New Mexico 

Boulder-Dushanbe Sister City Committee, Boulder, Co.

Open World Leadership Center, Washington, D.C.​ 

American Councils for International Education, Washington, D.C

​ FHI-360, Washington, D.C.

How We Started

Bridges to Tajikistan


Global One to One, formerly Project PeacePal, is a not-for-profit organization, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that empowers youth by developing essential life skills such as effective communication, intercultural understanding, critical thinking, confidence, and non-violent conflict resolution.  Global One to One operates a letter writing program for both teachers and students. For teachers, Global One to One offers a newly revised Common Core standards-based literacy and peace skills curriculum that develops students’ abilities to communicate ideas, resolve conflicts and become leaders for peace. For students, Global One to One provides an opportunity to directly connect with a pee rin a country across the globe.  ​Donations to Bridgesare tax deductible.  The mailing address for donations can be found on the “Contact” page.

Bridges to Tajikistan was born in November 2013.  Six delegates from Tajikistan visited Albuquerque, New Mexico, in October 2013 through an Open World professional exchange program on Youth Development and Civic Engagement.  The organizers and hosts for the delegation, Karen Schafer and Rikki Quintana, co-founded Bridges to Tajikistan.  They were inspired by the delegates’ dedication and commitment to educating young Tajiks under extremely difficult and challenging conditions. 

An initial focus on sending English language books to the delegates has expanded to emphasize resources for learning centers, virtual connections with students and faculty in New Mexico, participation in Global Entrepreneurship Week, and building relationships with the United States Embassy and Tajik universities. Bridges to Tajikistan is committed to discovering new partners and connections to help us build sustainable programs to benefit young people.  If you have an interest in the country or a connection to Tajikistan and would like to join our efforts, please let us know. ​

A complete list of our programs may be found under “Our Projects.”


Family Life Education Project

Karen Schafer

​During her 31 year career as a business lawyer, Rikki worked at major civil law firms in California and in Albuquerque. She is a Past President, and served for many years on the Board, of the Albuquerque Association for Gifted and Talented Students.  She also served on the initial Governing Council for the Public Academy for Performing Arts, an Albuquerque public charter school.  Since her retirement at the end of 2011, Rikki has returned her focus to her first passion—international communication and global connections that bring the world closer together.  She served as a Board Member, Vice President and volunteer programmer for international exchange visits with the Albuquerque Council for International Visitors. In 2015 she created HoonArts, a fair trade Tajik handicrafts business.

Bridges to Tajikistan would like to recognize and thank

ROBERT (“ROBBIE”) PARKER, of Portishead, Bristol, UK, for his extraordinary work in designing the Bridges to Tajikistan logo.

We would like to acknowledge and thank DELBERT SCHAFER, of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, for the time he gives to improving our web site and postings on Facebook.

We would like to recognize and thank LARRY BEHRENS, of Port Charlotte, Florida, for his outstanding work in creating our Bridges to Tajikistan video.

ANNIKA CUSHNYR, an Albuquerque high school student, provided the initial inspiration for the Bridges to Tajikistan book project, when she introduced the Tajik delegates to her “Giving Library,” her Girl Scout Gold Award project that you can find at

Co-Founders Rikki and Karen with Tajik UNM student Shohsanam Sattorova



Rikki Quintana

Lolagul (“Lola”) Raimbekova (Раимбекова) is a former Project Coordinator with Caritas Germany in Tajikistan, where she worked with very young children (3-5 years old) who are orphans, with children to age 18, and people helping children.  Lola is currently doing graduate study in early childhood development at Kent State University in Ohio. She is developing Bridges' Early Childhood Education materials.

Rashandzhon (“Ravshan”) Sirodzhov (Равшан) is the Coordinator of American Corner in Garm, where he arranges and conducts educational activities such as English classes, a movie club, a discussion club, web chats and presentations.  

Kamil Areshov (Камиль Арешовis) a Founder and the Director of the charitable organization “Dasti Yori,” or“Helping Hand” , which provides aid for poor families, orphans in the institutional boarding schools/orphanages ofTajikistan, disabled children and seriously ill children from poor families. 

Bakhtiyor Isoev, CEO and Founder of the private international educational service company, Study the Planet LLC and Former Head/Vice Rector, Dept. of International Relations, Institute of Economy & Trade, Tajik State University of Commerce, Khujand,

Hamadony Muzafarov, Founder and Director, Hamadony Muzafarov Learning Center, Navdi Village, Rasht District.

Margarita Anatolevna Voitova, Director, NGO Zumrad,  Dushanbe.​

Firuza Osimi, Founder and Director, Intellectual and Educational Center “Dono,” (Khujand)

American Cultural Space - Panjakent

Parviz Aydarshoev, Cultural Affairs (Grants) Assistant, US Embassy, Dushanbe.

Christopher Davenport, Cultural Affairs Officer, U.S Embassy, Dushanbe.


Karen ​served as President and CEO of the Tulsa Global Alliance (TGA) for eight years until her retirement in 2007.  Under her guidance, TGA obtained funding for a variety of new programs and increased its visibility and reach throughout the Tulsa area.  Sister Cities International named TGA’s Sister Cities program as one of the top five in the nation in 2006.  She worked from 2007 to 2014 as a consultant to Global Ties US, formerly the National Council of International Visitors in Washington, DC, on capacity building and board development.  Ms. Schafer returned to Tulsa, her childhood home, after living in Missouri, California, and Australia.  

Her career includes owning a public relations and political consulting company in Kansas City, as well as serving as Publisher for two business journals—one in San Francisco and one in Sydney, Australia.  She has been active in both the profit and nonprofit sectors and has worked with boards in both spheres, both as a volunteer member and as the paid executive.  She and her husband now live in the Albuquerque, NM, area.



Rikki grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, attended the University of New Mexico, where she majored in Spanish, and spent her junior year in Quito, Ecuador at UNM’s Centro Andino.  Rikki went on to Law School at Stanford Law School, where she participated in a semester-long externship doing legal research in Mexico City, served as an editor on the Stanford Journal of International Law and was awarded the Franklin Prize in International Law at graduation.