It has been three months since I have moved to Atlanta, Georgia for my MBA studies at Herzing University, however, it feels like I have been living here forever. In this short period, Atlanta became my second home and my peers became my family. Throughout these three months, a lot has happened, which has contributed to my personal and professional growth, making me an experienced and determined person.

After a month of my studies at University, I was lucky enough to get a job at the Admissions office at the front desk of Herzing University. It gave me a lot of experience and acquainted me to American work ethics and structure, which was a little bit different from the environment we are used to work back in Tajikistan. In a sense, it is more individualistic centered in the United States of America compared to collectiveness approach in Tajikistan (or other Central Asian countries I would say). It is my second experience working in the University, as I was working in my alma mater in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Although these experiences are almost the same, there are some differences between them. One of the most important and challenging distinctness in my view is that, at Herzing University the level of responsibility and accountability is much higher even for a student worker, whereas in case of Kimep University in Kazakhstan it was much less. This served for as a significant source of development professionally. Everyday work begins with meeting new people, greeting guests, answering calls, processing transcripts for further review, creating flyers for jobs/internship openings and assisting the students with their issues. Apart from my main job duties, I am also actively participating in University events that are taking place in the campus and assisting in the preparation.

I integrated into the society and I am actively participating in the social and cultural environment of Atlanta. Living in a multicultural and diverse society has taught me a lot about different nationalities, cultures, cuisines, music and gave me a chance to introduce my own. It was not surprising though that most of the people in the United States of America do not even know where Tajikistan is, as it is not much on the news and hasn’t been discussed internationally much. Nevertheless, it was a pleasure to introduce my country and culture to the people through participating in cultural festivals in Jamaatkhana and at Herzing University. In Jamaatkhana, I participated in a cultural evening “One Jamaat”, where I represented my traditional clothes and dance. Moreover, I was volunteering in a charitable event organized by “The Foundation for a Better Life” Alleviating poverty in Tajikistan, where I assisted with the organizing the event, welcomed and registered guests to the event, contributed to fundraising and was honored to give the last thank you speech on behalf of The Foundation for a Better Life and Tajikistan’s community. Moreover, I am engaging in Jamaatkhana and will contribute to the devotional night for Diamond Jubilee event.

Furthermore, I got a chance to attend the annual Ismaili Professional Network, where I met interesting people with different backgrounds from whom I learned the professional and business climate in the United States and the possibilities and challenges awaiting us. In addition, I am celebrating all the national holidays in the United States both at University and with the WEF volunteers. One of the most incredible experience was my first Thanksgiving at Farida Merchant’s house, where we had authentic Thanksgiving Dinner. The fascinating part of it was trying the traditional turkey with cranberry jam, which I would never taste but for tradition. It turned out to taste much better than I thought.

Having a great time in Atlanta, I decided to discover other states and expand my worldview and multicultural understanding. Because of the cold November in Atlanta, my choice was, of course, sunshine and warm Miami, Florida. I was supposed to leave there on November 23, however, as usual, was late for my flight (still getting used to the busy airports and long security check-in America) I left on Friday 24th and I spent 5 days there. It was an amazing experience as Miami, Florida is completely different from Atlanta, Georgia. The culture, the people, the cuisine, the city, the beach, the weather, body language, diversity, everything is different. The people are Hispanic and came from Latin American countries compared to African American majority in Atlanta. Therefore, the cuisine, the culture and lifestyle is very different. The only similarity I found was that Spanish is the second language there too (although it is more used in everyday life in Miami compared to Atlanta). As I am learning Spanish now, I had a chance to practice it with two of my new friends I met there, one from Uruguay and another one from Argentina, who both had different accents of Spanish. Generally, Miami is diverse in different cultures and people. I made friends from all over the world, including Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, United Kingdom, India etc.

I am sure there are much more things to discover in America and more opportunities and challenges are awaiting me in this journey. I am looking forward to pursuing my dreams and finding myself in this big country. WEF has paved the way, for which I am very grateful and will try to do my best to fulfill what was invested in me.