Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
Country Director: Norma Jo Baker
Country Director: Bermet
Program Coordinator, Mongolia: Yasmin Lodi
Program Coordinator, Uzbekistan: Didora Abidjanova
Since its establishment in the academic year 1995-96, CEP Central Asia has expanded dramatically. The Program began with three Visiting Lecturers (now calledVisiting Faculty Fellows - VFFs) and Eastern Scholars (now called Local Faculty Fellows - LFFs), all based in Kazakhstan. In the Academic year 2000-01, the Program had 9 Local and 18 Visiting Fellows in four countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Uzbekistan). Whilst in its early years the Program had been focussed on capital cities, more recently moves have been made to work in the regions - Shymkent and Petropavlosk in Kazakhstan; Osh in Kyrgyzstan; and, Samarkand in Uzbekistan. This broader geographical participation has served to enrich the program and increase its impact. By being one of the very few international organizations represented in places like Samarkand, Osh and Petropavlosk, CEP can be sure of providing rare and valued exposure to students and local faculty. And this expansion continues with the establishment of positions at universities in Tajikistan.
With theAmerican University in Kyrgyzstan (AUK) and Tashkent State University, where motivation on the part of the Visiting Fellows meets with enthusiasm on the part of the host institutions, the program enjoys its most fruitful cooperation. But success and impact are not isolated to these institutions alone, as CEP classes, conferences and seminars reach people across much of the Central Asian region.
Students in Central Asia have also begun reaping the benefits of their CEP education, as they pursue their studies in the west. CEP student alumni include: one currently enrolled at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, USA; one at Bryn Mawr University, USA, two at Indiana University, USA; and three are studying atCentral European University in Budapest, Hungary. And within the CEP network, students from the Central Asia region have continued to participate and perform well, and have earned prizes and awards at a number of regional and international events.
Central Asia Student Debate Forum- The event, co-funded by CEP and IDEA, was held in early November at Lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan. A total of 32 students from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan took part. The 3-day forum focussed on structured formal debates between teams of students of mixed nationality. The local English-language press took considerable note of the event, which served to raise its profile beyond our expectations.
Regional Student Conference "Creating Democratic Central Asia: Diversity, Interdependence, Development" - Fifty-six students from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan participated in the conference, held December 2000. The event itself seemed doomed never to take place, not least because of a major snowstorm that prevented the use of the originally planned venue at Lake Issyk Kul. But in true CEP tradition, the Bishkek staff did the impossible (again!) by reorganizing accommodation, conference facilities, meals, and all other details, in roughly 24 hours, so that the event was able to take place in Bishkek, thanks also to the generous help of AUK. Despite these unreasonable pressures, the conference itself was a great success, with the students of the region coming together in a collegial academic environment to share their ideas on issues of local, regional and global importance.
Model UN Conference on Human Rights - Model UN Conference on Human Rights - This student event took place in Osh, Kyrgyzstan in May 2001. CEP assisted Osh teaching volunteer Piers Von Berg, who in the co-organized the event with local Peace Corps volunteers and locally based English language teachers, working in conjunction with the Osh Debating Center. Funding for the event was contributed by the United States Embassy, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, and CEP. The event itself sought to replicate the realities of a UN International Conference. The student participants were challenged to take on the roles of national delegates, and then to seek to solve the very real issues that human rights abuses around the world represent. The event was great fun, and both stimulating and exhausting, but as ever, the participants (students and organizers alike!) left it with new insights about themselves and their countries/region, and also with many new friends and contacts.
Model UN Security Council - In a break with its normal traditions, the UN Security Council did not meet at UN Headquarters in New York, but instead convened outside Tashkent, during May 2001. Well, that was the aspiration of VF Carter Johnson in organizing this student event. He was assisted by Judy Scheffer and the CEP Uzbekistan Office Staff to put on a 2-day student simulation for over 40 students. Funding was received from the Public Affairs Offices of the US Embassies in Tashkent and Almaty.
The experiences of the simulation became a little to real at times, as bureaucratic and political complications prevented some students from attending. Nevertheless, Carter and his colleagues pulled off something special. The participants were placedin the roles of the national delegations to what is arguably the UN’s most powerful and political organ. Then, during their scheduled debates, the reality of the simulation saw the introduction of ‘events’ in the outside world that intruded upon their ‘diplomatic cocoon’. The gravitas of the weekend, and its impact on the participants, was contributed to by the impressive guests who attended, including the Russian, UK and US Ambassadors to Uzbekistan, as well as representatives of the UN.
CEP Central Asia/OSI Uzbekistan Teacher Training Workshops - This partnership between two such closely related regional-actors was felt to be a huge success. CEP Fellows Martin Scheffer, Carter Johnson, Victoria Levinskaya, Chad Thompson and Hooman Peimani were involved in this innovative attempt to introduce structured training in teaching to academics in the region, through the organization of a series of workshops focussed on a broad range of aspects of the teaching and learning process.
CEP/Fulbright Faculty Training Workshop - Similar to the Uzbek event, this collaboration between CEP VF Alumnus (and current Fulbright Fellow) Louis Petrich and CEP Mongolia Program Coordinator Yasmin Lodi was perhaps a first in Mongolia. The two-day workshop took place in Ulaan Baatar, and again focussed on training for local faculty members. The reception of the event was such that a number of requests for follow-ups and similar events have already been received.
In addition to the larger CEP events, or those that might be described as institutionalized within the particular CEP country programs, individual Fellows, or small groups of them, are encouraged to explore ideas and possibilities for enhancing their work in the region. A small sampling of some that took place last year is:
VFF Colin Spurway’s involvement in student debating went a stage further than the Debate Forum (see above) when four of the best student debaters from Central Asia were selected to attend the World Universities Debating Championships, held in Glasgow, Scotland from 23 December 2000 to 10 January 2001. He had to do a huge amount of fundraising, from friends, family and colleagues, and also from larger donors - British Airways, the Kyrgyzstani Rotary Club, and the Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages. CEP’s involvement in this one-time effort was important for a number of reasons:
- It demonstrated to our regional partners the strength and commitment of CEP
- It allowed the four students who participated, and their fellow students back home, to see themselves in a truly international context, and to see that they measured up to world standards
- It raised the profile of CEP and our partner institutions, and
- It gave ample demonstration of the quality of students we are privileged to teach through CEP.
"Women In Education" Student Conference - VF Leslie Champeny was the main organizer of this conference, which was hosted by Samarkand State Institute for Foreign Languages. The event brought together students from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan to discuss issues and experiences on this very important topic. The reception and interest that the conference generated meant that Leslie has already begun to plan the next year’s edition of it.
"The Geopolitics of Central Asia" Student Conference - LF Bermet Tursunkulova organized this event, which brought together 22 CEP students from the region and as far away as the Ukraine. It took place at Lake Issyk Kul on 30 March - 1 April. The issue under discussion, geopolitics in the region, has difficulties breaking away from its strong historical roots in the Soviet era. As such, it is considered to be an extremely important "science," one that tends to bring out the nationalist in many students. Hence, the importance of such international exchanges being conducted amongst young intellectuals from a range of countries in the region.
Academic Writing Workshops - LFF Dilyaram Sansyzbaeva based this course on her experience at theCentral European University. Each workshop lasted two-days, and was conducted in Russian. They took place in: Tashkent, Samarkand, Shymkent, Petropavlovsk, Osh, and Dushanbe. In most cases the focus was academic writing for students. However the Dushanbe event was run at the request of the local Open Society Foundation, and was aimed primarily at teachers. Again, the demand has been such that a program of courses for the next academic year is already being planned.
Universities Hosting CEP Fellows
Osh State University
Mongolian Technical University
National University of Mongolia
Institute of Tax and Law