Davlatsulton Dorgabekova (TSP 98-02) is currently Manager, External Relations and Regional Cooperation at the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Prior to moving to AKDN in late 2006, Davlatsulton worked with the Child Development Program of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Dushanbe. She holds a BA degree in International Comparative Politics from the American University - Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and an MSc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is expected to start her PhD studies in Political Science at the Rutgers University, New Jersey, in Fall 2009.
Click to enlarge photographI grew up in Khorog, one of the most remote and mountainous towns of Tajikistan, as the youngest of five children. Most of my childhood memories are very warm and pleasant until the early 1990s. The break-up of the Soviet Union and the Tajik civil war in 1991 was certainly one of the strongest memories for all of us Tajiks. At the age of 12 I witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union and a dramatic change in the lives of those around me in a matter of a few months.
As a result of the events of the 1990s, Tajikistan changed from a country in transition into a developing country very quickly. It was in need of major reconstruction in every aspect of its social and economic life. Since I wanted to return to Tajikistan upon completion of my studies I decided to focus on development studies. I thought this would help me make my small contribution to the development of the country I cared for so much.
The AKF scholarship enabled me to specialize in International Comparative Politics at the American University in Central Asia which nicely led to my interest in the development field. The course was of great interest to me and was key in developing my analytical, critical thinking and academic writing skills. It greatly widened my horizons and in many ways exceeded the expectations I had before going there. All the hard work turned out to be very rewarding in the end. It was there that I decided to obtain a further degree in Development Studies.
I am currently responsible for providing support to the AKDN Office in driving key initiatives that relate to content, process and development of strategic relationships. This involves establishing significant relationships and dialogue with partner agencies and related responsibilities. The areas of particular concern include relationship cultivation with diplomatic agencies and international organizations and assisting the office in matters related to the regional dimensions of AKDN programming. As part of relationship cultivation, I often facilitate high profile visits to AKDN project areas for various visiting government and international organizations’ delegations. This includes a lot of coordination responsibilities between visiting and AKDN agencies. I was always interested in working for the AKDN to contribute to the Network in my own small way. When the opportunity came I quickly accepted it.
My advice to a younger person starting out in this profession is something that has worked for me - to be successful it is important to stay positive and work hard. I also believe that every individual has a responsibility to contribute to the overall development of their community. Therefore I try to volunteer whenever and as much as I can. I have been working in various capacities on a voluntary basis for over 10 years now.
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