Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am Alisher Khamidov, from Uzbekistan. I was born in the Navoi region, but now I live in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. I work at the University of World Languages, which is located in the heart of Tashkent. I teach translation, interpretation, and English.
Can you elaborate on what “translation” encompasses?
From Uzbek into English and from English into Uzbek. We do both translation and interpretation.
This is a good chance to tell others about what we have done in our department. We have translated 18 popular and classic Uzbek novels from Uzbek into English and I’ve brought two of them—one of them is Navoiy by Oybek, a famous writer.
A Historical Novel?
Yes, exactly—and the other one is Shum Bola, which we translated into English as “A Naughty Boy.” These published copies were edited by American editors who were affiliated with our university. I hope to present a copy of each to the library.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Perhaps your education?
I did my Bachelor’s degree at the same university, the Uzbekistan State World Languages University from 2006-2010. From 2010-2012 I worked on my Master’s degree at the same university and then I started working as a teacher. I did some freelance work in interpretation and translation and in 2014 I went to South Korea as a part of the project “Upgrading Interpreting Capacity in Uzbekistan.” We studied and took professional development courses for two weeks in South Korea at HUFS, or Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, which is one of the best in the field of translation and interpretation studies.
So how did you end up here?
I was just working [back home] and one of my colleagues told me to apply for the FLTA program, I did, and I’m here.
Have you ever taught Uzbek to foreigners before?
No, just a few phrases to some friends. This is my first time officially and I’m very excited about it.
What do you hope to get out of your experiences as an FLTA?
I’m really thankful to this Fullbright FLTA Program because it includes both studying and teaching. You share your knowledge and receive more from others. I hope to take a bunch of knowledge and experience, which is going to be very important in my future, with me back to my country and share it with my students and colleagues.
So what classes are you taking?
I’m signed up for the American History course “The Bomb in American Life,” and the other is “Teaching English for Academic Purposes.” It’s a really great course.
Is this your first time in the US?
Yes, my very first time.
Where was your orientation?
We were in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania.
And you came straight here?
We flew to Detroit first, but then straight to Indianapolis.
Have you experienced any culture shock so far?
I haven’t had actual culture shock because I read a lot and many teachers, colleagues, and professors of mine had spent a lot of time here and used to tell their stories. I guess I kind of heard about and got used to life here without actually being here. But a very interesting thing happened when I got to Bloomington and we went shopping at Kroger. At the register, the cashier asked me “do you want paper or plastic?” In my country, if you say ‘plastic’ it means credit card. I said “yeah, I have plastic.” She said “no, paper or plastic?” Fortunately Mr.Akram, who works in the library, was right there and he understood, laughed, and said “he needs plastic.” That was probably the biggest culture shock, so far. Even knowing the language didn’t help. Also, “do you need cash back?” I said “what’s cash back?” Mr.Akram said “just press ‘no;’ I’ll explain it to you later.”
What do you think of Bloomington so far?
It’s a great town. The IU campus is great and so is the city because of all the nature. There is all of this green space and I love nature, so all of the scenery is wonderful.
What do you think of the University so far? Didn’t you go to the football game last night?
Yes, I was there. It was fun; it was great, but the score wasn’t so good. Today I heard that Ohio is ranked, like, number two in the nation and Indiana is much, much less, so I guess it wasn’t so bad, considering that. It was my first game and the stadium was huge.
Is there anything particular that you want to do during your time in America?
I would like to have a productive year here and I would like to maybe do some volunteer work. I would also like to travel a bit; I think it will be very useful when I go back to my own university. We have an English and American Studies program and maybe I can share some of my experiences there. I would also like to gather some data for my research by spending some time in the library. I think IU is going to be a great resource. I had a short tour and the library is fantastic.
Do you have any hobbies you’re looking forward to doing in Bloomington?
I like sports a lot and I would like to start going to the gym again. We often play football [soccer] after work back home, so that might be something I would like to try to do here. I also enjoy reading and I’ve read some books by American writers, but always in Russian or in Uzbek and sometimes in English too. I would like to find the originals and read them, because when you translate something, you lose some of the meaning- at least 20, 25%.
Obviously you speak English, Russian, and Uzbek. Do you speak any other languages?
Yes, I speak Japanese. I studied it at university as a second language. Well, not “second,” really; for us it was a fourth language. I also tried to learn a little bit of Tajik, but without practice, I’m losing it. I can communicate, but very simply. I have to think about what I am going to say and how to say it. In 2008 and 2009 I made an attempt to learn Chinese. I can write some characters and can say a few phrases, but I wouldn’t say I speak it.
Wow. Out of all of those, which was the most difficult?
I think I read somewhere once that the most difficult language in the world is Arabic and then comes Japanese. Japanese is not a simple language. Yeah, at the beginning it’s easy; you start learning the one alphabet and it’s okay, then they add Katakana, then Kanji and when you get to the point of speaking entirely differently to different people… I guess for me it was not too difficult because the structure is a lot like Uzbek. We use suffixes too, not prepositions.
With Chinese there was the problem of the pronunciation and tones. You have to have the proper tones of they don’t understand you.
I think Russian is hard, but Russian is like my mother tongue. I was sent to a Russian language school from kindergarten to fifth grade, but then my parents thought “he’s going to forget Uzbek,” so I spent the next five or six years in an Uzbek environment.
Do you think that studying Uzbek is hard?
It depends. If someone is motivated, they can learn it easily. I think speaking is simple. I’ve seen students learn it decently in a few months in Tashkent.
I bet you’ll have some really motivated students around here.
I heard that Bloomington is the place where the Uzbek language is really taught. In other places there might be a class or two, but here you can find a lot of people speaking Uzbek and the materials and resources are great. When I came here a friend from Philadelphia texted me and said “I was googling and trying to find good resources for the Uzbek language and all the results give links to IU.”
Anything you would like IU students to know about Uzbekistan?
Everything: the history, the traditions, the food, traditional clothes… not only things that tourists see, but the authentic things we do in everyday life. When I have time I always try to include contemporary authentic materials.
Is there anything else?
I’m so thankful for Malik Aka and Karen; no other FLTA supervisors are doing the same thing. When I came here I found out that they really had done a lot, especially relative to supervisors at other universities.