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Published: Thursday, 11/15/2012

Owens first Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence hails from Tajikistan

BY REBECCA CONKLIN KLEIBOEMER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Farzona Rahimova, of Tajikistan, is spending a year teaching international business at Owens Community College as a member of the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program. Farzona Rahimova, of Tajikistan, is spending a year teaching international business at Owens Community College as a member of the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program.
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The Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program is more than an exchange of people. It's also an exchange of ideas.

Business educator and community advocate Farzona Rahimova, of Sughd, Tajikistan, is the first such scholar ever for Owens Community College and one of about 50 scholars the program brings to the United States each year.

"Exposure to our Fulbright Scholar is helping all of us to better communicate cross-culturally and become aware of global issues and change," said Deborah Gavlik, director of International Programs and Services.

Ms. Rahimova is a quintessential representative of the program's philosophy behind bringing an international component and diversity to U.S. higher education institutions.

"For my students, I think it's interesting to learn from someone who came from a different country," she said.

She is imparting her expertise to the School of Business at both the Perrysburg Township and Findlay campuses for the 2012-2013 academic year, developing new business courses with an international focus.

Ms. Rahimova also plans to gain new insight and practices that she can take back to her homeland.

"When you teach, you also learn," she said.

Conducting classes online has been one of her learning experiences, and she said it would be of great benefit to women to institute that method in Tajikistan.

Because the country is mostly Muslim, cultural tradition can be a barrier to women studying outside the home, she said.

She also said more and more men are moving to Russia for employment, and women must find ways to supplement household income.

Ms. Rahimova is dedicated to the development of business education and entrepreneurship for families headed by women. As a member of Junior Achievement Tajikistan, she created school curricula on applied economics and worked on the translation and adaptation of a “Global Business Ethics” textbook and teacher guide. She served as a trainer at the National Association of Business Women of Tajikistan, which provides start-up business planning for women.

She also has taught at the Institute of Trade and Economy in Khujand, the second largest city in Tajikistan. Her courses included economic geography, small business management, business planning, and international economic relations, the last of which she taught in English.

After a 29-hour flight from Tajikistan to the United States in early August, Ms. Rahimova went to work the very next day. She said she has learned much in the past three months already.

"I want to bring these experiences back to Tajikistan," she said.

Ms. Gavlik said Owens officials hope to form collaborative relationships with higher education institutions there.

"We also hope to develop exchange opportunities for Owens faculty, staff and students," she said.

Ms. Rahimova most recently served as branch manager at Habitat for Humanity Tijikistan, where she led the effort in 17 new home construction projects, more than 70 semi-built house repairs, and technical assistance for more than 1,200 families in Sughd, according to a release from Owens. One of her direct responsibilities was managing the training unit, which included the development and coordination of vocational construction training.

She also has provided training on HIV prevention and financial education for migrant families.

Ms. Rahimova is living in Perrysburg with husband Olim and their youngest son, Amir, 13. Son Jahongir, 16, is living with a family in Portland, Ore., as part of another exchange program.

Owens staff donated items for their apartment, everything from toiletries to pillows, Ms. Rahimova said. They also have been volunteering to take her on errands like grocery shopping because public transportation here is limited, unlike her country.

"I didn't expect this," she said. "They helped me a lot. I'm so thankful for the staff."

That staff is likely to be thankful for her too as she will be serving as a guest lecturer in geography, political science, history, economics, sociology and, international studies.

Contact Rebecca Conklin at rconklin@theblade.com or 419-356-8786.



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