connection, education, opportunity

Thanks to help from the Open World delegates who visited Albuquerque in October 2014 and professors Manuel Montoya and Cristyn Elder at the University of New Mexico, we were able to send the first installment of English language international business textbooks to the university in Khujand.  More textbooks followed the initial shipment.  

Above is a snapshot of the first textbooks to arrive in Khujand, with faculty members.

Together with several partners, Bridges to Tajikistan proposes a multi-phase educational project (the “Project”) that will generate local, sustainable solutions to key community problems in Tajikistan and develop long-term, sustainable connections between young professionals and institutions in Tajikistan and their counterparts in the United States. Social entrepreneurship is rapidly becoming a transformational force in economic and social development by placing community, creativity, culture and entrepreneurial skills at the forefront of social change movements. 

Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. Social entrepreneurship is one of the most effective strategies for lifting people out of poverty.  An entrepreneurial spirit is just beginning to emerge in Tajikistan and needs to be nurtured and developed. Education is a particular field of human development need in Tajikistan, according to international groups. UNICEF reports that 1 out of every 5 schools in Tajikistan was destroyed during the country’s civil war and many students enter school without sufficient preparation. Tajiks deal with limited daily access to electricity, limited access to the Internet, issues with clean water in some regions, and other infrastructure challenges.

The lack of local economic opportunities has also resulted in Tajikistan being the country with the highest percentage of GDP provided through remittances from Tajiks working outside the country, primarily Russia. In cooperation with the Institute of Economy & Trade, Tajik State University of Commerce in Khujand, Bridges anticipates a three-phase program.  Phase One:  The Project will provide local logistical and technical support in Tajikistan (including translation into Russian) to permit young Tajik professionals, NGO and community leaders and university students to participate (at little or no cost to the participants in one or more readily accessible venues) in a massive open online course (“MOOC”) on Social Entrepreneurship under development by faculty at the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management.  Phase Two:  Live Workshop in Khujand.  Following the completion of the MOOC, theProject will sponsor a 2-day workshop in Khujand to provide select participants in the MOOC with practical, how-to support in moving their ideas for social entrepreneurship projects/enterprises from the drawing board to the market.  Phase Three: Post-Workshop Support.  During this Phase, the Project will provide additional targeted support for the workshop participants.  This will include video conferences on specific topics, individual participant/project support via internet based communication.  During this Phase, the Project will also fund 2-4 summer internships for American university students/young professionals to provide on the ground support in Tajikistan to develop and enhance the workshop participants’ projects/enterprises. 



Through the auspices of Bakhtiyor Isoev, Formerly Vice Rector and Head of the Department of International Relations at the Institute of Economy and Trade at Tajik State University of Commerce in Khujand (Tajikistan’s second largest city), Bridges to Tajikistan began to develop collaborative relationships with Tajik universities and the University of New Mexico. 

Bakhtiyor is also CEO of an international education service company, Study the Planet, based in the Khujand region. 




Bridges to Tajikistan co-sponsored a presentation by Dr. Sherry Mueller on Pathways to International Careers at the University of New Mexico on Nov. 18, 2015.

Co-founder, Karen Schafer, attended the Navrouz celebration in Boulder, Colorado, on Sunday, March 22, 2015.  Held at the beautiful Teahouse in Boulder, there was dancing, traditional dress, and amazing food.  The Teahouse was built for Boulder as a part of their Sister City relationship with Dushanbe.  It is a beautiful building inside and out, and you are encouraged to visit it if you ever find yourself in Boulder.  See more about the Teahouse.

As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 17-23, 2014) activities around the world, Bridges to Tajikistan, together with the University of New Mexico’s International Business Students Global , Professor Manuel Montoya of the UNM Anderson School of Management, and the American Chamber of Commerce in Tajikistan, helped facilitate the first ever live teleconference between students at UNM and Albuquerque entrepreneurs with their counterparts in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. 
Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators, who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.  During one week each November, GEW inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators.  These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities. 
The state of New Mexico in the United States (34◦N, 106◦W) and the Republic of Tajikistan (38.55◦N, 68.8◦E) are nearly opposite to each other on the planet’s surface.  
However, there is much to share between these two beautiful places.  Both have a rich ancestral heritage, and both have a relationship with larger economies that pose great opportunities and challenges for business people and for the communities they serve.  
In an era where social change is a big part of how businesses and economies develop, it is important to know how this concept is understood across large distances.  For a full hour, students from the University of New Mexico and students from several universities in Tajikistan, as well as Albuquerque and Tajik entrepreneurs, engaged in a lively discussion sharing their different perspectives on entrepreneurship and social innovation.

The discussion on Global Entrepreneurship is available here.

Growing Global Citizens

In September 2014, Bridges to Tajikistan and Project PeacePal, together with Albuquerque’s Bosque School, hosted the first annual community event “Growing Global Citizens."  Chris Schueler, Emmy Award-winning documentary film-maker, shared his experiences using film-making as a basis for community building and problem solving in diverse locations, including Tajikistan, Indonesia, Nicaragua and India.  Chris’ talk was followed by a panel discussion by community leaders and students in the international and community engagement fields on “Keys to Building an Effective Grassroots Community.”  

The panelists included:

Anna Rutins and Annika Cushnyr, Bosque School senior (service learning)
Sarah Wilkinson (Project PeacePal)
Earl Shank, UNM, Anderson School of Management, International Business Students Global group
Priyanka Chellappa (La Cueva high school student, who organized a UNESCO PeacePal club)
Melanie Kirby, former Peace Corps volunteer and int’l consultant on beekeeping
Patrick Hibbard, UNM MBA Student and recent volunteer in Guatemala with Social Entrepreneurs Corps.

The event also included an “International Organization Information Fair,” designed to allow community groups to network and increase awareness of their global activities and to expose the local community, especially students, to the many opportunities to make a difference in the international arena.  Participants included:  Albuquerque Sister Cities, Peace Corps, Animal-Kind International, Project PeacePal, Bridges to Tajikistan, UNM Study Abroad Dept., Creativity for Peace, and UNM’s International Business Students Global.