Sunday, July 17

On a Mission

Amir Temir MuseumI spent last week in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on my first 'mission' (the UN term for work trip). I was there to help deliver training on Gender Statistics to statisticians and users of stats from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan and Iran.

It was a fantastic experience, both from a professional and personal perspective. Getting out of the office to meet and help people in our region has given me a new appreciation for what our division does. It was also a great opportunity to visit a country in Central Asia, a region I know very little about. Even though my brief visit didn't allow much time for site seeing, I was able to meet and talk with local people about their country and culture.

Hotel PoolThe week was a busy one, with 5 days of lectures, discussion and computer workshops. I delivered three presentations, chaired a couple, helped setup the computers and facilitated the practical exercises. The most challenging part for me was that most participants spoke no English, so we were simultaneoulsy translated into Russian by local interpreters. This is the first time I've worked under these conditions and it was bizarre to know that people weren't hearing my presentation, but rather the translation of the interpreter.

Tashkent RestaurantTashkent is the country's capital and is a city of about 2.5 million people. I found it to be quite westernised (Uzbekistan declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991), with plenty of advertising, modern cars (lots of old Soviet Lada's too) and mobile phones. Being a double landlocked country, many goods are expensive (eg computers) but food is apparently plentiful and cheap. The people were friendly and the streets seemed safe, although we did always have a local with us. Our views of the city were mostly from a car window as we were driven around to visit a local artist's studio (a friend of our host), a beautiful silk shop and then on the last night, dinner at a restaurant which was in a 100 year old traditional Uzbek house (see photo above).

It was 40+ degrees most days, but we spent most of the time in our air-conditioned and very nice, five star Radisson hotel. When we did venture out, the heat wasn't too bad as it is quite dry, unlike Geneva where 30 degrees feels like 40 sometimes! It was surprising to hear that in winter, Tashkent gets snow and can be as cold as minus 15 degrees. Click here for more photos.


Gab said...

Well done Jess, that would have been so exciting! I bet it felt like half a world away. The pics look great too!

Wendy said...

Wow, what a fantastic time you must have had. A mission, well I think only to have the best time. Great pictures.