Dec. 3, 2019
The spirit of giving thanks was felt in Webster Tashkent on Nov. 28 as students connected to their community. On Thanksgiving, 15 student volunteers and a few staff members went to Qibray, a town near Tashkent, to meet with local children with disabilities.
Webster University partnered with an organization called Opa-singillar, which translates to “Elder sisters and younger sisters,” who provides support and advocacy for women and children with disabilities. Opa-singillar invited children living in Qibray to participate in the meeting with Webster students, and hosted the event in their office space.
During the meeting, students played improvised group games with the children, interacted in pairs, presented them with treats, and even had a small dance. The founder and head of Opa-singillar, Natalia Plotnikova, stated that the value of this meeting for Webster students would be to see that people with disabilities are fundamentally the same as those who do not have disabilities.
Rushana and Shohista, two of the Webster volunteers shared their impressions after the meeting. Shohista wrote, “I participate in [these kinds] of projects a lot – for more than three years – but this one was… more emotional and interesting. … [The] mutual connection made us to see and feel magic.”
For the children, the time spent with Webster students was an opportunity to socialize with new people and play games together. For their parents, the meeting gave some sense that the world is more kind than we sometimes think. “Moms… we talked to were so grateful, just because… we played with their kids, and our hearts filled with admiration,” Rushana said.