Fariza Sheralieva is a second-year student on the Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP). Here she talks about learning what it means to be a teacher and discovering her full potential through the programme.

Being part of the IIS family and STEP programme for the second year has helped me to discover myself not only as a teacher but as an individual, a human being. One of the unique sides of the STEP programme is that it gives you the opportunity to listen to yourself, to your inner voice, which helps you to discover the hidden potential and diverse capacities within you. For me, each day in this programme has included time for self-reflection and improvement.

When you are a student in the programme and are simultaneously given the responsibility of educating adolescents, you and your students become mirrors that reflect each other. You become a person who thinks and reflects both as a student and as a teacher. Although I loved to be engrossed in teaching and learning before STEP, I probably focused more on the process of knowledge acquisition rather than on reflection and application. It was only in the STEP programme that I could see the full potential of being a teacher, an educator, a person who can touch young people’s lives and be accountable for it.

Despite every challenge faced because of the intensity of the programme, being far from my family members, who live in a remote region of Tajikistan (Khorog, Badakhshan—where I was born and grew up), and dealing with the pandemic, the programme has helped me first to connect with myself, with colleagues from around the world, with the Ismaili adolescents I taught and with the best sources of education. With all my confidence I can say that this programme offers the chance of rebirth, rejuvenation, and self-realisation, if you fully embrace all the opportunities it offers. My biggest achievement while being part of STEP is discovering who I am and where I go next.

Of course, the STEP journey does not end after completing the programme. It has a longer, more fruitful continuation. I am extremely excited about the start of the next chapter in my life. I will be going back to my context, Khorog, Tajikistan, in a few months and will join our STEP community as a teacher. There I will have an opportunity to share the knowledge and experience learned on the programme with the youth of Badakhshan, Tajikistan. I genuinely hope that my subsequent involvement with the programme as a professional teacher will allow me to inspire the youth of my community to aspire for knowledge, to explore their identity as Ismailis and Muslims, and to believe in themselves, as I have. One may think that STEP is all about preparing professional teachers for the Ismaili communities, but it is far broader than that. It is transformative.

Find out more about STEP