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Adventure ready

Healing hands and 'a good pair of winter boots'

Student Life

By Marcia Porter

How does a young man from the Central Asian country of Tajikistan end up studying at Memorial’s School of Nursing?

It’s a question one can’t help but ask the soft-spoken Anush Noziri, a 2017 spring graduate.


Memorial University recruiters don’t often travel to the mountainous country near Afghanistan, where summer temperatures climb to about 45°C. Mr. Noziri’s hometown is the city of Dushanbe (formerly known as Stalinabad between 1929-1961.)

His path to Memorial University began in New York City, where he lived with his parents during high school. His father is a diplomat and worked for the United Nations.

Nearing the end of high school, Mr. Noziri wondered what to do next. With an interest in the health sciences and studying nursing, pharmacy or medicine, he began investigating academic programs in the U.S.

“We had heard so many good things about Canada, and I was open to the idea.” — Anush Noziri

But American schools are expensive and beyond what he could afford, particularly as an international student, so his mother advised searching Canadian universities.

“We had heard so many good things about Canada, and I was open to the idea,” he said.

Eventually they found Memorial University, discovering that nursing, medicine and pharmacy programs were offered, and at a much more affordable rate than other schools. He applied and was successful. Luckily, Mr. Noziri happened to own a must-have item of clothing for his new home.

“When I had my first job in Grade 12 in New York, I used some money to buy a really good pair of winter boots.”

‘Where is Tajikistan?’

Mr. Noziri arrived in St. John’s at just 17 years old. After a year of completing prerequisite courses, he entered the bachelor of nursing program.

Another common question he gets a lot is, “Where is Tajikistan?”

“When people ask me where Tajikistan is located — I tell them it’s around Port-aux-Basques, or Gambo.” — Anush Noziri

It’s a question Mr. Noziri has fun with.

“When people ask me where Tajikistan is located — I tell them it’s around Port-aux-Basques, or Gambo, and that always makes a few people laugh.”

He grins, remembering back to his first-year Healthy Aging class, when instructor Dr. Karen Parsons went around the class, asking her students what their grandparents’ occupations were.

One of the most common occupations was “fisherman.” Not for Mr. Noziri, though.

“They were philosophers,” he told her. “I can still remember her [wide-eyed] reaction. She was curious. Two of my grandfathers were academic scholars who focused on literature, languages, history and poetry and were well-respected in my country.”

Expanded practice

Tajikistan, which was was under Soviet rule from the 1920s until 1991, has a fascinating history. It is one of three Persian-speaking countries in the world, along with Iran and Afghanistan. Mr. Noziri is named after a Persian king, meaning “eternal soul.”

Growing up in Dushanbe, where his sister and extended family still live, Mr. Noziri attended a Russian school and speaks Russian as well as Tajik, a Persian language.

He’s proud of Tajikistan’s history, culture and rugged beauty, where 93 per cent of the land is mountainous – a perfect place for hiking. However, practising as a nurse in Tajikistan is a much more limited career choice than in Canada.

“You’re viewed as more of a doctor’s assistant,” said Mr. Noziri, who enjoyed all his clinical rotations while a student at the School of Nursing, especially in emergency.

“And here you have a much more extended scope of practice. In society, you are considered knowledgeable.”

He also appreciates the Canadian health-care system, especially it’s organizational structure and its accessibility to all people.

With degree in hand, Mr. Noziri and his girlfriend, Dana, also a new School of Nursing graduate, are soon off to Happy Valley-Goose Bay — and their husky puppy — to begin their nursing careers. The pair have just passed their registered nursing licensing exams and are ready for their new adventure.

“I’m excited about what the future holds,” he said. “With nursing you can do so many things.”

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