The halfway point of our countdown seems an appropriate place to revisit our reason for being here in Uzbekistan, Tashkent International School. Our journey began three years ago when we decided to take a huge leap of faith by pressing a career reset button and embarking on a journey that would offer an indefinite extension of our international lifestyle. When we were considering the possibilities in the fall of 2014, Uzbekistan wasn’t even on our radar.
Our fate was sealed at the January 2015 Council of International Schools recruiting fair in London. Alicia interviewed with several schools, and had a few firm offers, but the one school that stuck out as the best choice for a number of reasons was Tashkent International School (TIS). The selling points were all there; mountains, post-Soviet, four seasons, active community, Uzbeki-where?
Our families were less than thrilled with the destination, but trusted our decision making process. This move was a turning point for us both, not just as a married couple, but also for Alicia’s career, and for Andrew’s education. Making the decision to leave a tenured civil service position after 8 years to pursue a Master’s was not taken lightly, nor was the decision for Alicia to return to full time teaching after a two year hiatus studying opera and working as an adjunct professor in Italy. Looking back at how much our lives have changed since make us confident we made the right decision.
Three years later we’re more committed than ever to our intentionally international lifestyle. Tashkent International School is not only an exemplary international school learning community where students are educated to be internationally minded, think creatively, reason critically and communicate effectively, it’s also been our extended local family. While it’s important to maintain a healthy work/life balance, in the international school community it’s just as important to make sure the school is also a place you feel at home.
TIS is a mid-sized school by most measures, with just over 500 students at the end of the 2017/2018 school year. Following Uzbek Independence and the influx of Diplomatic Missions and the United Nations, TIS was founded in 1994 to provide a quality international education for diplomatic and UN families, as well as international corporations and NGOs. Today the school offers the full IB Curriculum to a truly international student body with students from nearly 45 nationalities recognized, along with a faculty and staff hailing from at least 15 countries worldwide.
Tashkent may be the largest city in Central Asia, but it still feels like a small town. Located just 10 minutes from the center in a residential neighborhood, TIS is situated on a beautifully landscaped park-like 13-acre campus, attached to the Tashkent International Clinic next-door. The school just opened a brand new gymnasium this year, a new elementary building in 2015, and a dedicated arts & design building in 2014. As a growing international community new projects are already in the works!
Since 2015, Alicia has been both a PYP and MYP Music Teacher, and Elementary and Secondary Choir Director. She works with an outstanding arts team, and has traveled with her students as part of the Central and Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA) Band & Choir Festival for two consecutive years. After working for one year as a Programme Assistant at UNESCO, Andrew was hired by the school in 2016 as the Activities Coordinator, and has recently taken on additional full time responsibilities to close out this current school year.
For our next adventure we head to Central Europe, leaving behind parched desert steppes and soaring peaks of the Tian Shan for the Elbe Valley and Saxon Switzerland. Over the next 50 days as we close out our Uzbekistan series, we will continue to highlight the places that make this country so special, thanks to a school that made it all possible. Tashkent International School has been an unforgettable experience in more ways than one. Thanks for the memories, TIS! The international adventure continues…