Architecture Student, Ashgabat - May 2003

Pictured here is a young student of architecture, studying in Ashgabat. Enesh Sakhatmamedova studied in the US as an exchange student in high school and recently has gained entry into a university in Michigan and has returned to the States to resume her education. In February, 2001, I was a guest for dinner in the home of the director of the National Museum in Ashgabat, and Enesh served as my translator that evening.

Despite her overseas education, she is seen here dressed in traditional Turkmen women's attire, with hand embroidery on both the collar and sleeves of her long dress. All the girls at the university where she studied in Ashgabat dress in a similar fashion.

With all that can be said of the Soviet occupation of many of these Central Asia, the opportunity for education for all exists throughout the Central Asian republics, and young women are eager to take advantage of the universities in Ashgabat. On the other hand, the conservative Islamic elements in Afghanistan reacted adversely to the overt policy of introducing education and employment opportunities to the women there, contributing to the rise of the reactionary Taliban government.