Critical Language Scholarship Program | Daniel Bromberg
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Daniel Bromberg

Daniel Bromberg is an alum­nus of the 2015 CLS Per­sian pro­gram in Dushanbe, Tajik­istan. He is cur­rent­ly a Ful­bright Research Fel­low at Maas­tricht Uni­ver­si­ty; he will grad­u­ate this year with a Mas­ter of Sci­ence in Pub­lic Health and plans to work for a few years in glob­al health and devel­op­ment before going for his next degree. He’s a Boston­ian at heart, and his fond­est child­hood mem­o­ries are about sum­mers on Mass­a­chu­setts beach­es. He still can’t stay away from the ocean, but when he’s not swim­ming, he bakes sour­dough breads and pastries.

Why Per­sian?

As a glob­al health pro­fes­sion­al, it is impor­tant for me to know at least a few for­eign lan­guages. I already speak Russ­ian, so Cen­tral Asia is a nat­ur­al region of focus. I decid­ed to learn Per­sian because I hope to be able to com­mu­ni­cate effec­tive­ly while design­ing health projects in Tajik­istan, Afghanistan, and some areas of Uzbek­istan. I’ve already had some oppor­tu­ni­ties to do this: this last Feb­ru­ary, I went to Les­bos, Greece to work in a refugee camp. I spoke Per­sian every day as the major­i­ty of the refugees with whom I worked were from Afghanistan.

On learn­ing to make mistakes

After CLS, I am a lot more con­fi­dent speak­ing Per­sian. Although I’m still not per­fect, I think being immersed in the lan­guage got me to the point where I am com­fort­able with mak­ing mis­takes and explain­ing my way around problems.

In a word…

My favorite Per­sian word would def­i­nite­ly have to be taarof. Though taarof is just one word, it has an entire cul­ture wrapped up inside of it. Taarof is the Per­sian sys­tem of polite­ness; for exam­ple, accord­ing to taarof, it would be con­sid­ered rude to accept some­thing the first time it is offered to you. There are a bunch of these lit­tle taarof rules, and they make speak­ing Per­sian a lot more flow­ery and fun.

On food and family

My host fam­i­ly was more hos­pitable than any­one I had ever met before. My host mom was also the best cook. She would make osh (Tajik pilaf) and sam­busa (meat-filled pas­tries) bet­ter than any restau­rant in Dushanbe, or any of the oth­er fam­i­lies I vis­it­ed. One of her house­hold sta­ples came as a sur­prise to me: peo­ple in Tajik­istan eat a lot of hot dogs! My host fam­i­ly would have them every morn­ing for break­fast. I had nev­er asso­ci­at­ed Cen­tral Asia with the com­mon frank.

A sweet” memory

Peo­ple in Tajik­istan cel­e­brate Eid al-Fitr dif­fer­ent­ly than in oth­er Mus­lim coun­tries. Chil­dren dress up in tra­di­tion­al cos­tumes and go house-to-house ask­ing for sweets. It reminds me a lit­tle bit of trick-or-treat­ing on Hal­loween. I remem­ber my host family’s house being flood­ed with dozens of scream­ing kids while I tried, and failed, to give the can­dy out in some sort of order­ly way.

If you had one day in Tajikistan…

Vis­it Iskan­dark­ul, a glacial lake way up in the moun­tains. It’s a real­ly peace­ful place; you can sit on one of the banks and look at the lake and the moun­tains ris­ing up on all sides of the water. It’s a lit­tle bit hard to get to from Dushanbe, but hire a dri­ver – the ride over the moun­tains is beautiful.

Words of wisdom

Appli­cants: know exact­ly why you want to learn the lan­guage that you’re apply­ing to and be com­mit­ted to using it in a future career. The more spe­cif­ic you are, the like­li­er it is you’ll be accepted.

Par­tic­i­pants and alum­ni: you’ll be sur­prised where your lan­guage comes in handy. I use my Per­sian all the time in pret­ty ran­dom circumstances!

Alumni Profiles

Daniel Bromberg
Daniel Bromberg
Persian 2015
Dushanbe, Tajikistan

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Posted Date

May 03, 2016