Public Relations  >  News Center  >  News Releases  >  April, 2019  >  April 23, 2019  >  'What America is all about': First-generation American to represent U.S., Creighton as Fulbright Teaching honoree
'What America is all about': First-generation American to represent U.S., Creighton as Fulbright Teaching honoree

Sahil SandhuAs the son of immigrants to the United States, Creighton University Honors Program senior Sahil Sandhu notes its a particularly vibrant strand of the vast American fabric into which hes now woven himself.

The premed biology and Classical and Near Eastern studies major learned earlier this month that hes earned a prestigious Fulbright Teaching Assistant award, taking him to the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan, where hell teach English and serve as an American cultural ambassador, just a few lines of latitude north of his parents native India, where he has also visited grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Its amazing, kind of funny, really, that a first-generation American is going off to be a representative of American culture, said Sandhu, who was born in California a few years after his parents immigrated to the U.S. in 1995, and counts Gilbert, Arizona as his hometown. But thats what America is all about, really. Im excited to be a part of that.

Tajikistan first popped up on Sandhus radar when he was a sophomore in high school. Looking for an opportunity to expand his horizons, he jumped into Persian language courses at Arizona State University, where he encountered an instructor from Dushanbe, the capital city of Tajikistan.

Sandhu took six credit hours of Persian at ASU and was hoping to do another three credits in a study abroad immersion program in the country where the language, Tajik, is mutually intelligible with Persian.

But I was a high-school kid and my parents wouldnt let me go, he said. But it got me thinking. Tajikistan is a very vibrant country with a mix of cultures, from Russian to Iranian and much in between. Its a wonderful melting pot.

Arriving at Creighton with aspirations to attend medical school, Sandhu maintained a foothold in his varied other interests, including Tajikistan. When a friend suggested he apply for the Fulbright, Sandhu, who was already planning on a gap year between his undergraduate studies and medical school, leapt at the chance.

It crosses everything off my list, he said. I love Tajikistan, I love travel, I love teaching and teaching English, and I love to do service.

Sandhu will arrive in Dushanbe in the late summer and undergo an orientation aimed to give him a glimpse of the nation that will be his home for 10 months. Hell then likely pack up for a rural portion of Tajikistan.

Once there, he hopes to immerse himself in the culture while also imparting to the Tajiks the English language and the cultural fruits of the United States. As a future physician, he also hopes to do promote health and wellness literacy among the Tajik populace.

I hope I can make at least a little bit of a difference, Sandhu said. At the same time, Im looking forward to what Tajikistan has to offer. The culture is beautiful and its also a beautiful, mountainous country that has not been extremely urbanized. Its almost pristine, with lots of hiking trails. I just hope to do a lot of exploring.

Sandhu said his Creighton education, giving him the opportunity to chase passions in several different directions, was a major contributor to his decision in going after the Fulbright award.

Its been great to be able to engage my interests in ancient history and biological sciences, he said. Both majors have such great classes to offer and its helped to make me a well-rounded person. And Ive had some amazing faculty who have helped shape me at Creighton and its ultimately the professors who make our break the learning experience. Ive been very fortunate in that regard.

Since 2005, Creighton has produced 17 Fulbright awardees.

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