Ending our visit to UCA Khorog

We are just setting off for the drive from Khorog to Dushanbe – 13hrs on rough road. Everyone says this will be a highlight, but the work and our one day outside yesterday were pretty hard to beat. This short post can not list all the people and organizations we have met, but suffice it to say, the network of educators, community developers, hazard / risk assessment & mitigation groups, scientists and students is amazing. UCA is growing as just one component of an inspiring wave of regional improvement and it’s a privilege to be a part of it.

Yesterday we visit a major debris flow that cut off power and the main transport route in 2015, and were shown the effects, the mitigations, an efforts to work out permanent solutions. This also gave us a taste for the “country side” – which should be called “mountains side”. We also had a peaceful afternoon exploring the Botanical Garden – second highest in the world after one in China. Very lovely and … many photos taken by everyone!

There are two more days of meetings in Dushanbe starting tomorrow, then home via a 4:00am departure for the 26 hr journey. There are lots of details and lessons learned to write up, share with the team, with colleagues both here in Tajikistan and at UBC, and of course with family and friends.

Update from Dushanbe

Hi – we’ve arrived safe but tired, enjoyed 1.5 days to rest, recuperate and see a little of Dushanbe, and began a dense round of meetings this afternoon.

Everyone at UCA organizing our visit is being super-helpful and thoroughly enjoyable company. And thank goodness they speak several languages. You seem to need either Tajik or Russian here to get anywhere other than “standard” locations. Like the museum. We lucked out twice, with awesome guides, first at the phenomenally beautiful Ismaili Centre (https://the.ismaili/dushanbe/architecture-dushanbe), and then at the antiquities museum were a Tajik guide generously shared her boundless knowledge of the region’s archaeology (constantly interesting since neolithic times – including Greek communities established by Alexander), in very good English. Two hours was barely enough! See http://www.afc.ryukoku.ac.jp/tj/tajikistanEnglish/index.html

The objectives related to familiarization with UCA and it’s various components are being met by meeting with contributors to UCA’s various programs, and by the endless patience of staff as they answer our many questions about students,  courses in their first two (of five) years, logistics and infrastructure etc. etc. etc. It’s going to be a bit of “cognitive overload” – but there are four of us, thank goodness. Making a brand new university, with three brand new campuses in three different nations, a yet-to-be-completed roster of research and teaching faculty, a second year of undergraduate students well into their first term … I don’t know how they are doing it. But they are passionate, energetic, smart, and phenomenal “diplomats” and communicators. It’s a privilege to be part of the vision.

Maybe some pictures next time. For now I have only a few tourist images of the core of Dushanbe, and some recollections of great food at excellent local places. And it’s warm for this time of year – up to 27deg C. and sunny!

UBC visit to UCA’s Khorog campus

Our little team departs today to spend 3-4 days in Dushanbe and 4-5 days at the UCA Khorog campus (depending on travel arrangements between them). Lucy Porritt, Linda Strubbe, Phil Hammer and Francis Jones (see personnel) are carrying the UBC flag for this visit, and others will hopefully make a trip in late spring or summer.

Our main objectives are to meet UCA / MSRI colleagues, stake holders, students and locals with interests in Earth or environmental sciences, and to reach further consensus on curriculum, course scheduling and other program-specifics that influence the way this EES program is developed.

With amazingly well organized UCA support, we look forward to a productive time – they have created a very full itinerary, and we are bound to come away much better informed about our role and opportunities for collaboration.

We’ll try to post here as the visit progresses – we’ll see 🙂