What I admired and learned most about in Turkmenistan is the patience, dignity, and intelligence of the Turkmen people. They are wise in politics, and have a deep love for family. This love gives them patience to wait for better times.

There are 5 million Turkmen in Turkmenistan. Another one million live and work in Russia, more in other countries, part of a vast brain drain. Like other poorer countries where I’ve lived, people do not choose to work outside of their country. They feel they must, to give their children a better life.

I loved the love that Turkmen have for Turkmenistan and celebrate all who stay here, accepting the “less” of dreams deferred that is the price for the “more” — more time with children, closer contact with parents, centeredness within one’s own culture, celebration of daily gifts.

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