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  • Having dreamed of travelling to the former Soviet Union for so many years, I had finally arrived in Kazakhstan. No, this was not the land of Borat. This was the land of a young, independent, oil rich, and rapidly developing modernized country in Central Asia. Although I was excited to have achieved my goal of making it to the region, a violent incident spoiled my trip. Despite the violence, I stayed in the country for 7 more weeks, saturating myself with Russian language and Kazakh culture as well as representing the United States in a positive light to help alter perceptions on Americans and increase understanding between our countries. The incident served as a reminder that further understanding and dialogue is needed, but it was largely overshadowed by an extremely positive experiences with people who were intrigued by my vision in interested in my background as a Black America. Although being Black attracted much unwanted attention, my race allowed me to connect with people in ways which they probably would not have been able to connect with an American ever in their life. In addition, these experiences inspired and fortified my love for Russia and Central Asia and although I was forced to return to the U.S. early, I will be returning to the region once the political climate stabilizes because these study abroad experiences are necessary in the promotion of understanding, dialogue, and prosperity in the world.
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