Education runs in my family. My grandfather was a school principal, my grandmother was a recognized and awarded teacher, and my mother is a language teacher, whose ability to win the interest of bored students fascinated me as a child.
While the tendency to value sons more than daughters was common for some parents in Uzbekistan, my father valued and fostered equal educational opportunities for my siblings and me. I took full advantage of this familial support, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English and German Philology with Honors, and a Master of Arts in English Linguistics from the Uzbek State World Languages University.
When I began teaching, I introduced using puppets to a gender-imbalanced group of students who were difficult to work with. Puppets turned out to be an innovative way to work with challenging students, as it allowed them to “depersonalize” their actions and view them from a different (puppet’s) perspective.