Davin Khan is an alumnus of the 2023 Summer NSLI-Y Tajiki program in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Davin will study International Relations and Middle East Studies at Claremont McKenna College this upcoming fall semester. ​

The idea of being placed in a different environment with new surroundings was what piqued Davin’s interest in the NSLI-Y Tajikistan program. Stemming from his curiosity for Iranian and Persian culture, Davin’s goal was to immerse himself in a way of life completely different from his own. While reviewing the various programs offered by NSLI-Y, he felt that Tajikistan was one of the most unique places that he could pick. Davin left Minnesota with an eagerness to expand his worldview. ​

While there are many cherished memories that Davin holds onto, one of his favorite moments took place about halfway into the program. One night, Davin and his host family chatted for hours in Tajiki, exchanging stories about their families, typical daily lives, their cultures, and more. While, admittedly, there was some miming, Davin felt proud of his ability to hold a conversation at this length after only learning the language for just a few weeks. He explains how the accelerated lesson plan in his program gave him the skills and confidence to hold extensive conversations almost entirely in Tajiki. By overcoming this language barrier, Davin was able to form meaningful connections with his host family. ​

Since returning, Davin has found ways of furthering his interest in Persian. The foundation of Tajiki that Davin acquired during his time abroad was essential to his learning of Farsi. Although Tajiki and Farsi differ in their alphabets, some pronunciations, and other aspects, the many similarities helped Davin grasp the new language. Davin practices Farsi with a tutor from the Middle East Institute and plans to pursue it in college. Before studying abroad, Davin began an independent study focusing on the political, cultural, and economic similarities between Iran and the West. He wrote this study throughout his time in Tajikistan and completed it after returning. Now, Davin has presented his independent study to educators at the conventions hosted by the National Council for the Social Studies and the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies. ​

Davin is grateful for the opportunity to study in an immersive language learning environment abroad. The several excursions he participated in, especially the trip to the US embassy in Tajikistan, have inspired Davin to consider joining the foreign service. He looks forward to studying abroad in college to learn more languages in the future. Davin encourages other students to overcome the initial thought of studying abroad as daunting by viewing this experience as positively as possible. He shares how many cuisines that are common in the US are more difficult to find in Tajikistan, so he suggests perceiving this as an opportunity to try new foods and different ways of enjoying them. Additionally, Davin recounts how rare the internet is in Tajikistan. Instead of focusing on the disruption to his typical life before studying abroad, he took the initiative to explore Tajikistan and try new activities he wouldn’t normally do back home. Davin promises that “If you put effort into exploring Dushanbe, trying to converse in Tajiki as much as possible, and studying the language, you will learn so much more.” ​