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Uzbek Service Explores East Coast Cities, Meets Fans

Navbahor Imamova in Philadelphia
Navbahor Imamova in Philadelphia
VOA’s Uzbek TV program Exploring America (Amerika Manzaralari) got some great feedback, including from outgoing Uzbek Ambassador Ilhom Nematov, after taking the show on the road to several East Coast cities recently.

Nematov, speaking at his farewell ceremony at the Uzbek Embassy on June 13, praised VOA’s coverage of Uzbek immigrant families living in the United States.

“I have really enjoyed the recent programs from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York,” Nematov said, adding that the episodes helped him better understand the lives of Uzbek immigrants in major US cities.

“The feedback has been phenomenal,” said Navbahor Imamova, who hosts the weekly half-hour program. “We’re able to tell the story of America in different cities, and we did it through the eyes of Uzbek immigrants striving to realize their American Dream.”

Exploring America, which airs every Monday on Channel 340 AsiaSat3, is aimed at Uzbekistan and Uzbek-speaking people in the rest of Central Asia as well as Afghanistan. However, as Imamova and her crew discovered during their stops in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City, many Uzbek immigrants are tuning in via the Internet.

“Perhaps the most rewarding thing we heard while traveling, over and over again, was that Uzbeks living in the United States depend on our programs to learn about their adopted country,” Imamova said. “Through these episodes, we’re helping explain American life in a way that is accessible to new immigrants.”

She said one of the most memorable moments on the road came in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach, a haven for Central Asian communities, at a concert featuring Uzbek pop star Yulduz Usmanova. The crowd of 1,500 mostly Uzbeks immediately recognized Imamova and the VOA cameras there covering the event.

One by one, a seemingly endless flow of people stopped to thank Imamova and her Uzbek Service colleague Nasiba Tohir for their work.

“Our compatriots in Uzbekistan and elsewhere need to hear our stories of success and sometimes failures,” said VOA fan Norkhoja Eshon, an Uzbek community leader in Brighton Beach. “Your programs, your coverage of our lives here in America, help us in this difficult yet amazing process.”

While Imamova, a veteran VOA reporter, has become somewhat accustomed to such attention, it brought a whole new level of appreciation for Tohir.

“It’s easy to wonder if all our hard work is really making an impact, especially given how hard it can be to penetrate Uzbekistan,” Imamova said. “But moments like those inspire us and really prove to us that what we do matters to many people out there.”