Where in the world is Turkmenistan? It was right here in Northfield! On May 14, 2009, instructor Michelle Yarmakov organized a Central Asian Panel for her class titled “Where in the world is Turkmenistan?” Five people representing different areas and aspects of Central Asia were on the panel: Inara, currently a student at Carleton College, is from Uzbekistan, Rinat, currently living in Northfield, was born and raised in Turkmenistan, Prof. Adeeb Khalid, a professor of history at Carleton College specilizes in Central Asia and lastly, Mr. and Mrs. Jack and Jane Bardon are former who served in Turkmenistan from 2003 – 2005. Mr. Jack Bardon was a professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and Mrs. Jane Bardon worked in IT at the University. Michelle Yarmakov was also a in Turkmenistan serving from 1993- 1995.
Michelle Yarmakov moderated the panel in a traditionaldress handsewn in Turkmenistan with an embordered neckline and handknitted Turkmen socks. Rinat wore a traditional Turkmen robe for men and a “telpek” – wooly sheep hat. Inara brought and shared a traditional Uzbek hat for females when dancing.
Many questions were asked and discussed by the panel ranging from food in Turkmenistan to the current political situation in both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Prof. Khalid was able to talk a little bit about his travels to the other “stans” – Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Jack and Jane Bardon spoke about the Turkmen- Russian – English Medical Dictionary (the first of its kind!) that they were able to write and publish while serving as Peace Corps volunteers.
Participants of the panel and students in the class all agreed that more information about this very strategic and remote part of the world is necessary.