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Last summer my aunt and her grandson Bayram came to visit my family. As a typical child, Bayram was super active and to keep him busy I played with him. At some point, Bayram got distracted by my books on the book shelf. He picked up one of the books and asked me to read it to him. The book was about the Nobel Prize winners and their biographies. After sometime Bayram asked me a very interesting question: "Why are all of those names either Charles, John or Alexander? Why don’t they have names like ours, like Bayram or Chary?" I could not find the answer to his question, but I asked myself, why, indeed, among these famous people are there no Turkmen names?

After thinking about this question deeper, the answer that I came up with was that for ages the standards in Turkmen society have been to receive higher education, to start a new family, to bring up children and then to retire. Even though time passed and civilization developed, Turkmen standards have not changed. At the same time, standards in other cultures and countries are similar to standards in Turkmenistan. However, I think that the major difference is that our society does not focus on personal growth. It is very rare that you will meet individuals who are interested in personal growth. Therefore, I think the reason for the difference is that our standards limit people from discovering their life purpose and people cannot understand what they want from life.

One of the essentials of life is to know one’s life purposes or to set life goals. Achieving life goals and having a purpose in life drives the individual to make healthy life choices and to be active in societal opportunities. Therefore, I have a question for you. Have you ever met anyone among our Turkmen peers who would work hard towards their life goals? Most of Turkmen youth are busy with getting married, gossiping, and being idle, in other words, they sit at home and do nothing. Do you think these actions inspire you?… I do not think that all Turkmen youth fit this description. Sometimes I meet individuals who are very talented and gifted in unique ways. They have a drive to achieve their goals and become an individual in their society. Unfortunately, you can only meet such persons very rarely.

I might have a possible explanation for why this happens.

"Honey, do well in school! And don’t bother me with questions about it, because I have no idea!" these types of "supportive" words are heard in most families. Parents should be the support and help for their children on their educational path, but most of the time they run away from this responsibility, or they are not prepared to support their children on their educational path.

Low income combined with high expenses. Low income families do not have enough funds to be able to support their children’s extra-curricular educational activities. Being able to provide all the educational needs is important for the children as they grow up. Educating them on how to use computers, new languages, and sports is going to cost a lot of money; plus, education in public schools is not good enough to get admitted to the universities.

One of the most difficult life achievements is getting admitted to a Turkmen university. It is considered a huge accomplishment. Nowadays, the goal of most Turkmen young people is not focused on being educated but on receiving a diploma as soon as possible to get a highly paid job. Yet, they do not take education seriously or they do not try to become professional in their field of study.

Talented and gifted people are leaving Turkmenistan. In my opinion, the reason for this is that in other countries people have access to different opportunities.

I think that the greatest changes start with the individual changing himself or herself first.

Therefore, I am fully confident that it is only when the society starts paying enough attention to children and supporting them in the process of becoming an individual, that we will hear Turkmen names like Chary and Bayram among famous people.

Translated from Turkmen

Written by Bossan Annageldiyeva

Translation by Aygozel Begliyeva

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