A’salaam alekum from Kyrgyzstan! I’m a junior in the Global Resource Systems program at ISU and I am doing an internship in the city of Tokmok (pop. 50,000), which started last May. My name is Jesse Lang, but recently I’ve gone by the name Дима. I am volunteering for the Tian Shan Mission Society, which is assisting farmers in the region by supplying quality soybean seed and agronomy consulting. My area of study at ISU is agronomy, and the classes I have taken have helped me for when I had to identify insect pests and weeds that were infesting the fields here. My role over the summer was to act as the liaison between professional agronomists in the States and the farmers they are advising in Kyrgyzstan.
The first two months of my stay, I was studying the Russian language full-time at a local university. I was able to practice with local students, who taught me the culture of Central Asia- like how I shouldn’t have walked into their kitchen with my shoes on! Thankfully, the people I have met have been kind and patient with me as I learn about life here. At harvest time, I was responsible for receiving locally harvested soybeans that will be cleaned and stored for next season’s seed. The crew of guys I was working with represented five different nations, and the only common language was Russian, so I had a plenty of opportunity to develop my Russian communication.
I will never forget one farmer here, named Jinbo. He came out of retirement to put his granddaughters through school. He planted soybeans because he wanted to do the best that he could for his girls. When I visited him in his fields, he shared a melon from his garden with my co-worker and me, and asked us what problems he will likely face if he continues to plant only soybeans in his fields. I was humbled by the hard work this man had put into his farm, and I was proud to be an agronomy student that day. I am excited to return and finish my studies at ISU, and someday be an agronomist who facilitates the noble efforts of men and women like Jinbo.