AUCA Magazine 2015 Summer

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American University of Central Asia

Summer 2015

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


auca magazine

CONTENTS 03 President’s Message Editor’s Note AUCA Updates 04 AUCA Partners Talas Copper Gold and Andash Mining Company To Provide Scholarships To Students Of Talas 05 Student Ashlie Koehne Awarded Prestigious Truman Scholarship 06 Global Shapres - Bishkek Hosts First University Fair At AUCA 08 Seinep Dyikanbaeva Presented With James Emison Award 2015 12 CASI Provides Ongoing Support For Academic Research On Cental Asia Lessons of the Past 14 Exploring The Benefits Of The Afghan Students Scholarship 18 AUCA Remembers: Victory Day 70th Anniversary 20 Memories of the 1916 Uprising: Reconstructing The Oral History 24 Sahar Hashimzada: International Relations First-hand in Kabul 26 Reporting On One Year At AUCA TV 29 TSPC Launches International Interdisciplinary Project On Glacier Change Assessment 32 A Look into ‘Mirrors’ with Nikolay Shulgin 38 Alumni Spotlight

Summer 2015

Publication Team Editor-in-Chief: Stephen Lioy Design and Layout: Emil Akhmatbekov Contributors: Christopher Baker Gulazor Gulmamadova Jenny Jenish Kyzy Basira Mir Mahamad Dinara Orozbaeva Begimai Sataeva Kanat Sultanaliev Diana Tsoi Pictures: APDC AUCA TV AUCA Anthropology Emil Akhmatbekov Sultan Dosaliev Sahar Hashimzada Daniar Joldoshbekov Stephen Lioy Mursal Rasheed Tian Shan Policy Center Bakhrom Tursunov Vechernii Bishkek

AUCA Magazine American University of Central Asia, founded in 1993, is dedicated to educating leaders for the democratic transformation of the region. It is the most dynamic and student-empowering education available, and is the only university in Central Asia with the authority to grant degrees accredited in the United States. AUCA equips its graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to solve problems and open doors in this rapidly changing and developing region and the world beyond. American University of Central Asia is an international, multi-disciplinary learning community in the American liberal arts tradition. Its curriculum includes the Preparatory Program (New Generation Academy), twelve undergraduate majors, and three graduate programs. In addition to its topflight academic programs, AUCA is committed to freedom of expression, critical inquiry, and academic honesty.

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AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

President’s Message programs, we are also about to expand our offerings at the graduate level. The MA program in Psychology, featured in this issue, is merely one example, but we are also about to launch a PhD program in Political Science/Central Asian Studies, that will be the first of its kind in the region and the first at AUCA. Together with the University of Indiana, we are exploring how to offer the first LLM joint degree program in Central Asia. In this, students will start their studies using a modular program and meeting intensively for long weekend sessions over the course of an academic year. They will finish the degree by spending a semester at the University of Indiana Law School and receive an LLM from both AUCA and the University of Indiana. It is our hope that by providing a broader range of graduate programs, we can expand our mission to create the next generation of leaders for the entire Central Asian region. Dear Alumni, It is our pleasure to present to you the spring 2015 issue of the AUCA magazine. With each issue, we hope to open up a bit more of the university to our alumni and to all friends of AUCA. This spring our focus is on a number of projects that have been going on for some time, including our student theatre program and the AUCA television project. These two activities are important to us not merely because they have, over

the years, involved many different students, but because we are thinking of developing an undergraduate major program in theatre and film, which will draw on the expertise of our faculty, current students, and alumni who have entered the media and theatre production worlds of Kyrgyzstan. If we succeed in our planning, we will recruit the first group of students for this program next year. At the same time that AUCA is thinking about how to offer new undergraduate

Most of these activities, of course, will take place on our brand-new campus, onto which we intend to move during the months of June and July. Please look for an announcement regarding the festive grand opening ceremony of the new campus, which will take place sometime during the last ten days of October. We hope to see all of you very soon in our new building! Andrew Wachtel President

Editor’s note

It’s a touch incongruous, perhaps, that as the Class of 2015 prepares for Commencement on June 6th to begin

their post-graduate and professional lives we’re going to print with an issue of AUCA Magazine focused largely on the past. As we examine in these pages, however, the lessons of the past offer valuable tips to keep to heart as we move through life both as individuals and as members of the communities we identify with. Some of these hit close to home with a real and immediate personal impact, as discovered by students of the Anthropology department in their research on the 1916 Urkun Uprising in Kyrgyzstan or by the filmmakers of AUCA TV as they prepared a tribute commemorating the 70th anniversary of Victory Day in early May. Other lessons come at a glacial pace, quite literally in the case of researchers for the Tian Shan Policy Center and AUCA’s Environmental Management and Sustainable Development program, but are no less important for the communities and ecosystems that stand to be impacted. Indeed, as the researchers of the Central Asian Studies Institute recently explored in their Great Game(s) in Central Asia and Beyond seminar, many of the lessons of this region’s historical and geopolitical past are still being felt and debated to

this day. The unifying thread of all of these stories, that we are guided in large part by the lessons that have shaped our pasts, is one that we’d do well to remember in any stage of life. It is with this in mind, then, that we offer the stories that follow. My sincere hope is that as we move forward towards the brightest of futures, today’s graduates on their personal paths and the AUCA community as a whole towards the excitement of a new campus and many new programs, we remember and profit from these lessons of history and are able to utilize them as we continue to strive to build open, diverse, and just societies in the world around us. Congratulations to the graduates of 2015, and to the entire AUCA community during these months of transition to our future home in the south of Bishkek. Stephen Lioy Editor-in-Chief

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


auca updates Begimai Sataeva

AUCA Partners With Talas Copper Gold and Andash Mining Company To Provide Scholarships To The Students Of Talas


n pursuit of the ongoing goal of providing educational opportunities open to all students of Kyrgyzstan regardless of economic status, AUCA has recently established a new partnership to provide scholarships to students from the Talas region. Announced on May 15, these scholarships are offered in cooperation with Talas Copper Gold and Andash Mining Company (AMC), both subsidiaries of the Robust Resources Limited group of Singapore. Mr. Eduard Kubatov, Strategic Adviser at Robust Resources, identified the high employment rate of AUCA graduates as a key factor in choosing the university as a partner.

Having businesses invest in higher education means a lot to us; it is an indication of long-term vision, regognition of competitiveness of our education and willingness to make a lasting positive impact on the future of Kyrgyzstan and the region as a whole. - Aisuluu Sulaimanova, AUCA Director of Development The scholarships, which will begin supporting students for the 2015-2016 academic year, will fund an initial year in the New Generation Academy preparatory program followed by a full four years of study at the university level for students who successfully complete AUCA entrance examinations. American University of Central Asia welcomes Talas Copper Gold and Andash Mining Company into an expansive group of partnerships with international corporations like Mina Corp, Coca-Cola Bishkek, and Bank of Asia in ensuring that access to high-quality higher education is open to all students regardless of financial background..


The Talas Copper Gold Project (100% owned by Gold Fields) is situated in the Central Asian Orogenic Belt (CAOB) in Kyrgyzstan, which is widely recognised as the second largest gold province by endowment outside of the Witwatersrand. The CAOB region is home to some of the world’s largest copper gold deposits, including Murantau (110 million ounces of gold-equivalent), Almalyk (80 million ounces of gold-equivalent) and Oyu Tolgoi (100 billion pounds of copper, 60 million ounces of gold). As of 31 December 2012, the Talas Copper Gold Project contained mineral resources of 1.7 billion pounds of copper and 6.7 million ounces of gold. Gold Fields also owns three neighbouring prospecting licenses in the Tien Shan gold belt covering 32,150 hectares.


AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

Andash Mining Company engages in the discovery and exploration of gold and copper deposits in Andash, Tokhtonysay, and Nakhodka. The company is based in Kyrgyzstan. As of August 23, 2013, Andash Mining Company operates as a subsidiary of Robust Resources Limited.

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Exchange student

Ashlie Koehn

returns home from AUCA as a Harry S. Truman Scholar for 2015 “So much of this honor I owe to the Bard-AUCA program. They actually asked me some questions about Kyrgyzstan because it’s just so different, I think, than the normal study abroad experience. There were some other students there that had been studying abroad in Europe, which is uniquely interesting but it doesn’t really stand out perhaps quite as much as if you were to say someplace in Central Asia and Kyrgyzstan. It’s just very different and I think it really captured peoples’ imaginations, and they really wanted to know more about how it will play into my future. So, I think it really did help me in that sense to receive the scholarship, which I’m so grateful for.”


shlie Koehn, an exchange student from the University of Kansas studying at AUCA for the 2014-2015 school year under the auspices of the AUCA-Bard Study Abroad Program, was recently honored as a recipient of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. A prestigious program that provides support and mentoring for young leaders in their post-graduate studies in the US, Ashlie points to her time in Bishkek as one of many experiences that set her application apart from her fellows in the selection process. Ashlie applied to AUCA-Bard in part for the opportunity to study in a Russianspeaking country. As a triple major in International Studies, Economics, and Environmental Studies another draw was the robust Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development program at AUCA, and during her year in Bishkek she has accompanied the program on research trips into the field on site visits

to areas such as the Kumtor Gold Mine to get a first-hand look at the impact her field of study has beyond the walls of academia. Once she completes her final year of study at University of Kansas, Ashlie intends to continue her study of the economics of climate change while pursuing a master’s degree at the London School of Economics or University of Reading.

See more photos from the Environmental Development and Sustainable Development program’s site visits at emsdsitetours/

On May 30, 1974, Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri sponsored S.3548,[2] formally titled “A bill to establish the Harry S Truman Memorial Scholarships.” Symington held the same Class 1 Senate seat that Truman had held from 1935-1945 before becoming Vice President. The Senate passed the bill on August 2, and the House followed suit on December 17. Two similar House bills, H.R.15138[3] sponsored by William J. Randall of Missouri and H.R.17481[4] sponsored by James G. O’Hara of Michigan, were set aside in favor of Symington’s bill. AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


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Jenny Jenish Kyzy (Soc ’11) organizes the

first University Fair, hosted at AUCA author: AUCA News, with contributions from Jenny Jenish kyzy (Ensi Tszie)


n May 2nd, AUCA hosted the first University Fair organized by the Global Shapers Community in Bishkek. The event drew hundreds of students from Bishkek together to learn more about the course and scholarship offerings of seventeen universities from across the city. During the event, students were also given the opportunity to listen to graduates from a number of these school speak about their professional lives in a diverse range of fields as well as the opportunity to enroll on the “Big Brothers, Big Sisters” mentorship program run under the auspices of Global Shapers. Bermet Tursunkulova, Vice President of Academic Affairs at AUCA, was a major supporter of the event and delivered opening remarks as a representative of the host university. She was pleased with the event overall, and looks forward to hosting it at AUCA in coming years. Jenny Jenish Kyzy, the main organizer of the first University Fair is also a curator of the Bishkek hub of the Global Shapers Community as well as an AUCA graduate and Alumni Council member. She described for AUCA Magazine the logistics of planning such a massive event, the impact it had for local high school students, and plans for the future of the University Fair in Bishkek:


AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

Global Shapers Community - Bishkek Hub is an initiative of the World Economic Forum. Global Shapers Community is a network of young leaders committed to improving the state of their local communities through realizing critical social projects. The Bishkek hub was founded only in the Fall of last year, and we have been running many communitydriven projects to address the critical issues of our society. “One of the issues we would like to address is the importance of higher education and bridging the school and university communities. While we were working with youngsters, we often encountered questions from them as how to choose the major and which higher education institute is the best suited for their developmental needs. Even freshmen report with regret that if they knew enough about the academic and scholarship opportunities, they would have made better preparations for their enrollment. Therefore, we decided to launch the first such platform: the “University Fair”, to call all higher education institutions and other educational agencies. The platform served as the one-stop-visit, where high school students got to learn about all universities at one spot. Moreover, we invited sixteen guest speakers from various professional fields such as Journalism and Mass Media, Political Science, Law, Business, Medical Science, and so on. Guest speaking sessions helped youngsters think critically

“The event was a great idea. It gave many young people a chance to learn more about education in Kyrgyzstan and how to make a choice. The University Fair was also a chance for the Universities to collaborate with each other. We, at AUCA, will always be open for such activities and will gladly make it an annual event.” Bermet Tursunkulova, Vice President of Academic Affairs

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photo courtesy of

about their potential, passion, and professional development. However, this is not the end of our program. During the University Fair, we also announced our “Big Brothers, Big Sisters” mentorship project. Through the mentorship, we hope high school kids can continuingly get assistance with planning personal and academic goals with the help of university students. In the long term, we hope to bridge the school and university communities through “Big Brothers, Big Sisters”. As the organizers, we felt very satisfied with the result of our “University Fair”, with more than 600 school kids visiting on that day. We announced the event to begin at 13:00, but by 12:30 there were already many students waiting outside. This was fascinating as an event organizer! At the Fair, every university tried their best to present themselves, and they were actively engaged in talking to school kids and answering all the questions they raised. At that moment, when all seventeen universities stood together, people felt the incredible tolerance and inclusiveness of educational groups. During the Fair, we also had two flash mobs correspondingly presented by university students and high school students. Students presented their energetic and positive images to each other. Global Shapers Bishkek organized the first University Fair in 2015. Hopefully, we can hold it as an annual event to help more students not only in the capital city, but also from the regions. However, I have to clarify that this was not the first

university fair ever in Bishkek. Years ago a similar university exhibition was organized in the Sport stadium (Дворец Спорта), but in last five years it was absent. Now I realize why it was missing, because indeed it was difficult to call various educational institutions onto one platform. In terms of recruiting, some universities considered others as competitors and thought there was conflict of interests. However, through this year’s fair we demonstrated that by sharing resources universities can get much more. They learnt how other universities did recruiting, and what are the needs of high school students. Meanwhile, we also worked hard to call and balance professional speakers from the alumni of different universities. They all represented the faces of their alma mater in various fields. This again embedded the mission of the event: nurturing an inclusive educational environment. In addition, it was also difficult to make the community outreach. Global Shapers Bishkek applied multiple approaches to ensure students city-wide were informed about this event. We first contacted the Bishkek Mayor’s Office, then we actively worked with local mass media (Vechernyi Bishkek, AUCA-TV, Manas Radio). Lastly, but also most important, with the help of our dedicated volunteers of “Unity Fund” we were able to personally invite 17 universities and outreach to 60 schools in Bishkek city. Hopefully the next year, in the second University Fair, we will be able to invite students from the regions as well.

Certainly, the event would not have been conducted so successfully without the help and support of our partners. AUCA, as the hosting university, played an important role in helping us expand our outreach and assisting in organizing. AUCA helped us apply for a mini-grant from USAID which enabled us to cover the majority of administrative costs (banners, posters, and T-shirts for volunteers). The AUCA Public Relation office and Manas Radio station helped us to make effective mass media outreach. Furthermore, our sincere appreciation goes to our dedicated volunteering group “Unity Fund”. For more than a month, Unity Fund members had been working with Global Shapers Bishkek. Lastly, we appreciate it that our work has been highly recognized by the local community. There are many more initiatives on education, girl empowerment, and community development in the hub. And we call more young leaders to become our “shapers” to shape the future of youth potential.

Read more on the ‘Global Shapers Community - Bishkek Hub’ Facebook Page, and watch a video interview with Jenny Jenish Kyzy from University Fair 2015 on the AUCA TV youtube channel: AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


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Seinep Dyikanbaeva Selected For James Emison Award 2015


einep joined AUCA Magazine by email to discuss her work at APDC, the important role alumni and the Alumni Council play in supporting the university, and the future of her work in law and human rights:

The AUCA Alumni Council has unanimously chosen Seinep Dyikanbaeva as the recipient of the 2015 James Emison Alumni Award for her work with the Association of Parents of Disabled Children (APDC) as a lawyer and promoter of human rights. Presented annually to an outstanding American University of Central Asia graduate, the James Emison Alumni Award is a grant given in recognition of contributions to the university’s mission to develop enlightened and impassioned leaders for the transformation of Central Asia.

AUCA Magazine: What would you say to the AUCA alumni if you were to address them in a speech? As a former member of the AUCA Alumni Council, how do you see the role of alumni in supporting AUCA? Seinep Dyikanbaeva: One person can accomplish a small thing, but a strong team with a good idea and desire can bring positive changes! I suppose that the role of AUCA Alumni Council is the accomplishment of interesting social projects, for instance: importance of education in changeable times.

AUCA: What about the role you play, in particular in your work at the Association of Parents of Disabled Children? What is it about this work that you find compelling? SD: As a programme coordinator for ARDI and a lawyer, I am working on the promotion of the rights of families and children with disabilities. In addition, I am responsible for the development and implementation of projects relating to disabilities and for administrative and other activities in ARDI, which needed my skills and knowledge. For instance: the project “Inclusion is the way to accessible education”; a significant result of the project was the publication of guidance on the provision of services for children with disabilities and their parents, guidance for the state bodies on provision of services for children with disabilities and their parents, and


About the Association of Parentd of Disabled Children (APDC) The Association of Parents of Disabled children (APDC) was founded in 1995 in response to the problems and the needs of parents and disabled children. APDC became the first such association in Kyrgyzstan. Now APDC is the partner of British charit ‘HealthProm’ to implement a project on opening a day-care centre to provide support to disabled children and their families in Bishkek.


AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

Association of Parents of disabled children(APDC) Kyrgyz Republic, 720084 Bishkek , m/r Kok-Zhar, h. 1, basement 4 TEl./fax: (+996 312) 51-76-34, 880245

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guidance on the laws relating to disability. It was funded by the Soros Foundation Kyrgyzstan in 2013-2014. All of this guidance is used by our parents and partners and has had a positive impact on all its users. Part of my job is travelling to different countries to represent the rights of people with disabilities on an international level as well as locally. Last year I participated in seven sessions of the Conference of States Parties. This year I will also participate. Disabled People International invited me again and I hope my participation will bring a positive impact on a global level and for my country. I find this work compelling because I myself face issues of disability. Unfortunately disability in the Post-Soviet countries was based on the concept of charity, not human rights. If we compare the situation it is much better than before. Children with disabilities have more access to education, and medical and social services. However, people are still faced with stigma and stereotyping.

Our Mission Assisting disabled children to be “included� into society and creating equal opportunities in Kyrgyzstan through social children with disabilities and empowering their parents, protecting their rights and advancing their interests, developing their potential, and civil activity.

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


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People with disabilities should not be treated differently for instance the Convention of Person with disabilities states that people should be treated equally and have access to the full rights of society by providing such things as physical access etc. The main thing is to treat people equally. AUCA: So where do you see this work taking you in the coming years? What do you see that still needs to be done to help APDC and other groups like them to thrive? What are the biggest challenges you and they still face? SD: From September 21st 2011, Kyrgyzstan signed the UN Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities. From that time all NGO’s working with disabilities are working on the ratification of this convention. We have had lots of roundtables to discuss and promote this convention. Now I am on a working party to make the ratification a reality because in January 2015 during the second cycle, the Universal Periodical Review recommended Kyrgyzstan to ratify the convention. A big challenge will be to ratify the convention in Kyrgyzstan and to implement this convention and carry out the policy of this Convention. For other groups I am not able to say because I am not working with them closely, and know about the situation with other groups generally. AUCA: Any words of advice for this year’s graduating class as they enter their own professional lives? SD: I wish those who graduate this year to look for a job that matches your interest and which you can enjoy. A job that can positively affect Kyrgyzstan. You can use your skills and knowledge here, and in different countries. I hope you will be happy in whatever you do. I hope that you will use your skills and knowledge in Kyrgyzstan so you will become respected here.

To read more about the work of Seinep Dyikanbaeva and the Association of Parents of Disabled Children, visit their website at

I am working on the promotion of the rights of families and children with disabilities. In addition, I am responsible the development and implementation of projects relating to disabilities and for administrative and other activities in ARDI.

In the course of her work on Human Rights and Disability Law, Seinep has authored or coauthored a number of publications: •

A legal analysis within the framework of the project “For the right of migrant families of children with disabilities” to provide provide guidance to public authorities that offer services to people with disabilities, completed with the support of the Democratic Commission of the US Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic.

A Resolution of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic from 31 July 2014, №381: “The state minimum standards for social services for children and adult persons with HIA in semipermanent organizations and social service agencies.” This resolution was prepared in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development.

A brochure on “Education of children with severe and multiple disabilities”published with the support of the Education Reform program of the Soros Foundation-Kyrgyzstan.

Currently, Seinep is a member of a USAID-funded working group for development of a draft law on social order with a focus on families of children with disabilities.


AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

erkin bek forum

The new campus will provide AUCA students and faculty with the infrastructure and supporting technology they need to compete in the 21st century. Dedicated classrooms, labs, and performance spaces need committed sponsors who share AUCA’s vision for educating leaders, and want to share that vision with students and faculty. AUCA’s New Campus offers many opportunities for you to make a lasting contribution to the university. One of the most efficient ways to support the university is to buy a naming right of areas within the AUCA Campus itself.

noor and ann lakhdhir library

The AUCA Development Office, together with the Alumni Relations Office and the AUCA Alumni Council, calls all alumni to support their Alma Mater. We address you as a dedicated alumnus/ alumna and ask for your support in reaching out your classmates and sponsoring a study room in the New Campus. Having your class name appear in a study room, dining hall, gymnasium, or lounge area will not only ensure constant recognition of your class, but also your commitment to educating future leaders of Central Asia.

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CASI Provides Ongoing Support For Academic Research On Central Asia author: christopher baker


s part of its efforts to strengthen research on Central Asia, the Central Asian Studies Institute of AUCA recently lent its support to the conference, ‘Great Game(s) in Central Asia and Beyond: Exploring International Regional Rivalry Using Cultural and Historical Lenses.’ The event, held on the AUCA campus from 15-16 May, was organized by AUCA’s Anthropology Department and funded through a generous grant from USAID. Headed by key note speaker Alexander Cooley, Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and Director of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, the conference brought together international scholars to explore the concept of regional geopolitical rivalry. The forum was notable for its use of cross-disciplinary and cultural lenses and for employing diverse source materials – ethnographic and historical – that extended well beyond the scope of traditional political science approaches. The Great Games conference was one of many projects supported by the Central Asian Studies Institute over the last year in furtherance of its key mission of promoting study of Central Asia locally and internationally. The 12

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

Institute has hosted a series of seminars, talks, and workshops focusing on critical regional concerns in Spring 2015 alone. Its visiting and affiliated scholars have provided lectures on a range of issues, focusing on everything from reading literature ethnographically to examining the imaginative geography of the Kyrgyz nation – the way in which perceptions of territoriality shape the understanding of the Kyrgyz as an ethnicity and impact the viability of the Kyrgyz Republic as a discrete geographic entity. In coordination with the AUCA administration, CASI decided in Fall 2015 to use part of its current USAID grant to support selected research projects of AUCA faculty members and senior students. Those students awarded grants presented their research in a series of talks over the spring, highlighting critical social and political issues in Central Asia. Exploring the interplay between dominant ideologies and state employed cultural elites, one student outlined the manner in which establishment figures employ cultural rhetoric – what she termed “soft” or “invisible” means – to sustain the status quo in Tajikistan. Another examined the complexities of divorce in rural Tajikistan and the varied cultural and

economic forces that shape it. Additional student presentations focused on issues of gender, migration, and sexism in Kyrgyzstan. Those faculty awarded grants presented their own research in May, with one team of local and international scholars outlining the effect of the Customs Union on food security in Kyrgyzstan – the project is one of a series CASI is supporting to stake claims on critical research topics and to attract external non-USAID funding. It will follow up these efforts in the Fall with an international conference devoted to the social, political, and economic aspects of the Eurasian Economic Union; a compact that has sharply divided local opinion throughout the region and impacted discussions of national identity, sovereignty, language, and Russian influence. The conference, which will be held at the new campus of AUCA in the south of Bishkek, will place CASI at the center of a critical and ongoing debate about the future of Central Asia. As part of its efforts to secure external grants and become financially sustainable, CASI has begun work in collaboration with Bard College to submit a joint application for the

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Fulbright Group Study Abroad project in the coming year. Spearheaded by CASI’s Director and staff, the project envisions an eight-week seminar in which scholars and graduate students examine Central Asia from a comparative perspective, the goal being to develop a series of stand-alone modules that can then be integrated into various other disciplines at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. The central idea of the project is to examine transnational encounters in Central Asia – the often disorienting collisions between Central Asian and Chinese, Russian, Middle Eastern, and Western cultures. Additionally, CASI is working on an electronic archive to house oral histories related to bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan. Compiled and collected by a team of international and local scholars over the past year, the histories allow the various actors in bride kidnappings to speak for themselves. CASI’s electronic archive will make this trove of documentation accessible to interested scholars worldwide as well as draw local attention to a critical issue. In an effort to build interest in the archive, the scholars involved recently

presented their preliminary findings at a CASI research seminar – an event which attracted representatives of the UN and local NGOs among others. Such CASI research seminars are a forum for visiting scholars, the ever growing number of advanced students and faculty from the US and Europe who come to Kyrgyzstan to carry out fieldwork independently or with CASI’s aid. Finally, CASI has successfully completed the second year of its Master of Arts in Central Asian Studies (MACAS). Meant to make a Western graduate education realistic and affordable for Central Asian scholars, the program was also designed to allow foreign students the possibility of studying Central Asia in Central Asia – the program combines AUCA’s extensive expertise on the region with complete immersion in the culture of Bishkek, a city in which Soviet and Central Asian heritages collide with the newly introduced traditions of the West. No other area studies program affords its students the ability to so completely experience the complex legacies impacting post-Soviet Central Asia.

MACAS has managed to retain all of its first year students and it has attracted a diverse body for the current academic year, including students from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, France, and the United States. Having launched and maintained a successful MA program in Central Asian studies, it is CASI’s intent to apply this experience to other AUCA projects, including the University’s effort to create a pilot PhD program in Central Asian Studies and International and Comparative Politics. A joint degree that will embody AUCA’s exceptional strength in these fields, the PhD is meant to harness the University’s Central Asian expertise and bind it to political science, one of the most established disciplines and respected faculties at AUCA. CASI, which has participated in both the design and conception of the program, believes it will appeal to a motivated body of students, scholars, and area experts – international relations and political science are among the most popular majors in undergraduate programs across the region but there are currently few local universities that offer advanced degrees in these fields in English.

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


AUCA Student Mursal Rasheed explores

the benefits of the Afghan Students Scholarship


n the middle of AUCA’s Bravo, handing out traditional Afghan qabuli palaw during Diversity Week’s Food Day, Mursal Rasheed is in her new comfort zone. Mursal (European Studies ‘18) has been a model student since her days in high school, but due to security concerns in Kabul after graduation she was unwilling to continue her studies at university there. Luckily Mursal discovered a way to study at AUCA and, after a last-minute visa approval and a bumpy first year, the AUCA campus and city of Bishkek have now become like a second home – even if it is hard to find a bowl of palaw to match those in Kabul. Mursal is studying at AUCA through the Afghan Students Scholarship Program, sponsored by the US Embassy in Kabul and administered by American Councils for Education. Competition is intense for this merit-based scholarship which covers tuition, housing, basic expenses, and round-trip transportation from Afghanistan to Bishkek each year. Students from all over the country apply in initial interviews


AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

“This scholarship helped me realize my capacity by being selected among those hundred applicants, [represents] a way to exchange cultures and share my ideas with diverse ethnic groups in a different place, enabled me to expand my knowledge beyond Afghanistan, is a chance to study in a cost-effective manner, helped me to get into [a] selective university, and made my resume stand out for years and years.” from Balkh to Kandahar before finalists’ applications are forwarded to AUCA and shortlist candidates are selected for interviews in Kabul. For the students who are chosen (twenty-one students when Mursal first arrived in 2013, though in the interim the program has been expanded to offer space to forty students per year), the benefits are multitude. Not only does Bishkek present a more stable environment for learning but also, as Mursal repeatedly notes, the joint-degree issued by Bard and AUCA for her chosen major of European Studies make her

degree useful not only in Central Asia and Afghanistan but truly anywhere that her career takes her in the world. “This scholarship helped me realize my capacity by being selected among those hundred applicants, [represents] a way to exchange cultures and share my ideas with diverse ethnic groups in a different place, enabled me to expand my knowledge beyond Afghanistan, is a chance to study in a cost-effective manner, helped me to get into [a] selective university, and made my resume stand out for years and years.”

Having spent three months working as an intern at the United Nations Office for Project Services before transitioning to a role as communications assistant, Mursal is already putting her AUCA education to good use. Beyond the value of a solid grounding in the liberal arts and critical thinking, she opines that her time in Bishkek has also taught her the value of adapting to the culture of the environment that surrounds her – a lesson built on the diversity of AUCA’s student body. Outside of the classroom Mursal also participates in the activities of AIESEC, including their National Leadership Development Seminar in 2014, as well as the New Silk Way Model United Nations Conference in Almaty this past May.

both excitement and trepidation. While the break from classes can be welcome, a whole summer away from the city she now calls home and the friends she has made in the AUCA community can be boring. She will, however, at least be able to finally eat her favorite foods from home.

u.s. embassy kabul scholarship to the american university of central asia Afghan Students of Central Asia is accepting applications for the Afghan Students Scholarship Program, funded by the U.S. Embasy in Kabul, and administered by American Councils for International Education ACIR/ACCELS. The scholarship will cover roundtrip travel from home to host university once per academic year, tuition expenses for medicaments and and basic medical care, housing and stipendo students during all four years of undergraduate study in AUCA and a one-year preparatory program at the New Generation Academy (NGA).

Of the entire scholarship approval process, applications and interviews and all the rest, it was actually the visa that caused the most stress. Just days before Mursal and her classmates were meant to leave for AUCA, with passports in hand they gathered together in a hotel lobby to meet the Kyrgyz Ambassador in order to have their visas approved, written, and stamped by hand. With the Kyrgyz Republic having opened an Embassy in Kabul in 2014, however, hopefully the process will be less cause for stress for this year’s round of applicants! For now, like perhaps most university students across the world, Mursal looks towards the end of the academic year with

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015



AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


“I spent very little time with my grandfather. I have only murky memories of him. I am very sorry for that I didn’t have a chance to talk to him personally, about the years he spent at war, about his life during the war, his exploits, and the difficulties he faced. And I am very sorry that I couldn’t thank my grandfather for this peaceful life we have today,” – Aisulu Melisbek

AUCA Remembers: Victory Day 70th Anniversary Author: Dinara Orozbaeva


n May 9th, to mark 70 years since victory in Europe in the Great Patriotic War, AUCA joined the rest of the post-Soviet space in celebrating Victory Day and remembering those veterans that fought and died in World War II. AUCA TV has prepared a series of tribute videos to celebrate the heroism of those fallen defenders; ordinary people with highs and lows typical to every person. All the people presented in these videos are heroes. Heroes of the Great Patriotic War. These videos have been created based on the memories of families and friends of the fallen defenders. Thanks a million for their everyday heroic deeds, for they fought and defended our lands, cities and towns, and the very people who call these places home! Thanks to them we were born and live. Memories of the fallen still burn bright. Retaining the memory of each of them is the impulsive cause for us to create feature films, make documentaries, to compose music, and to publish memories to make them available to all. Thus we can bring up real citizens and patriots – the school and university students, youth who will be in charge for our country in future. “No one is to be forgotten!” These videos describe how fallen defenders were ordinary people with highs and lows typical to every person. But we call them heroes. Not because they fell in battles. We call them heroes because they overcame human foibles and conquered fear. They put the interests of a nation, the lives other people, women, old people and children above their own interests, above their own will to live and the instinct of self-preservation. Therefore they performed an exploit. The concept of these videos is to show the moral, personal qualities of average men, for whom the word “motherland” was not an abstract notion. They reminded us one more time that human


AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

life was and is of supreme value on the Earth. These videos do not repeat wellknown historical examples of heroism. We touch instead on the memories of families next door in our neighborhoods, who lost their relatives during that worst savage years of a long war. It is not easy to listen to the recollections of these family members. They have been through a great deal; despite developments in the lives of their families having brought them so far away from that painful past, these memories still hurt and cause tears even seventy years later. Without knowing the past, it is not possible to understand the true meaning of the present or to see goals for future. This year is the 70th Anniversary of the Victory over Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, day-by-day eyewitnesses of that terrible time become fewer and fewer. We don’t know all of them. Not all of them were recruited to the army, but all people of the day felt that heavy burden. But there are children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren who keep firmly in mind their ancestors’ history. There are also people who are not considered war veterans – they are the children of war time, they are the women who worked in farms, fields, and industries. But they too are heroes for us. It was such a difficult time, but people lived through

war with dignity. Many people died for our present and future. But why do we recall our rescuers only on the 9th of May? Why we are so negligent to those to whom we owe our lives? The 9th of May, 1945. It was warm, sunny weather the day the people of USSR learned the war was over. Messages about this were delivered with lightning speed to all cities and villages. Members of the AUCA community also described their own individual connections to the Great War, reminiscences of family members who took part in the battles of the 1940’s that still touch on strong emotions even after 70 years. Aisuluu Melisbek (JMC ’11) recalls her veteran grandfather with an evident sense of pride that speaks to feelings of patriotism that still thrive in the younger generations of the country: “I spent very little time with my grandfather. I have only murky memories of him. I am very sorry that I didn’t have a chance to talk to him personally, about the years he spent at war, about his life during the war, his exploits, and the difficulties he faced. And I am very sorry that I couldn’t thank my grandfather for this peaceful life we have today,” – Aisulu Melisbek Adylhan Sasybaev, AUCA Security Officer, also gave way to emotions as he described his grandfather. Voice shaking


Estimated Human Costs Of World War II - Deadliest conflict in history

total military deaths

total civilian deaths

less than

25 000 000

55 000 000


more than 3% of worldwide population in 1939

The country with the largest number of WWII causalities was ussr, with over

The total direct economic costs of the war are estimated at over $1 trillion USD in 1945 dollars

26 600 000

$1 trillion USD

with emotion, he returned to those days when grandfather was alive: “When we were asking him about war, he was saying – you don’t have to know about this, war is….. He kept silent, deep in thought he retreated in himself. Every year, on 9th of May, we went to the Panfilov Park. We were silent staying near the Eternal Flame. Probably he was remembering war time, friends fallen in battlefields. I don’t know, I was also silent and didn’t disturb him. After that we laid flowers on monuments for Hero Cities – to Stalingrad, remembering fellow-soldiers – to Kiev’s monument. I watched other veterans with chests full of medals and orders. Each of them had its own history of war and exploit. From year to year, they become less and less. He didn’t like to

“When we were asking him about war, he was saying – you don’t have to know about this, war is….. He kept silent, deep in thought he retreated in himself. Every year, on 9th of May, we went to the Panfilov Park. We were silent staying near the Eternal Flame. Probably he was remembering war time, friends fallen in battlefields. I don’t know, I was also silent and didn’t disturb him. After that we laid flowers on monuments for Hero Cities – to Stalingrad, remembering fellowsoldiers – to Kiev’s monument. I watched other veterans with chests full of medals and orders. Each of them had its own history of war and exploit. From year to year, they become less and less. He didn’t like to talk about war, except one story I made him repeat again and again, sitting his lap and touching his medals, his scar on face. A small cut on his facial bone from one side, and a little bigger from other side of his face. It was a mark made by the bullet of a Nazi sniper.” talk about war, except one story I made him repeat again and again, sitting his lap and touching his medals, his scar on face. A small cut on his facial bone from one side, and a little bigger from other side of his face. It was a mark made by the bullet of a Nazi sniper.” Natalya Korosteleva, Associate Professor of Business Administration, starts her heart-rending story with a very straightforward statement: “Did you put an advertisement about video for 9th of May? My dad is a hero.” Her story brought tears not only to her own eyes, but to everyone around her who sat spellbound as she related the story of her father Nikolai. “On the photographs of the war years, the young guys... smile. There is a war, but they smile. And perhaps this is the meaning of life. We need to live no matter what. And I believe that the Great Patriotic War is what we must always remember. Remember what the price for our happiness was. People, please remember this.”

See the full Victory Day 70th Anniversary videos, including the entirety of Natalya’s story of hero Nikolai Korostelev, on the AUCA TV youtube channel:

photos courtesy of sultan dosaliev

“On the photographs of the war years, the young guys... smile. There is a war, but they smile. And perhaps this is the meaning of life. We need to live no matter what. And I believe that the Great Patriotic War is what we must always remember. Remember what the price for our happiness was. People, please remember this.”

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


Memories of the 1916 Uprising:

Reconstructing The Oral History

Author: Basira Mir Mahamad


tudents of the Anthropology Department at the American University of Central Asia have spent recent months working on the ethnographic project “Memories of the 1916 Uprising� with the support of the Student Intellectual Life Committee (SILC). The aim of this project was to reconstruct an objective image of the 1916 Revolt in Kyrgyzstan by gathering stories of senior people who witnessed or have relatives who had witnessed the


AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

1916 Revolt and its consequences. From March to May 2015, the students of the Anthropology Department, together with Associate Professor Aida Abdykanova, visited four regions of Kyrgyzstan to conduct interviews. These events, an oft-neglected part of Central Asian history known in Kyrgyz as Urkun, were prompted by calls from the Tsarist Russian authorities in the region to conscript local men to support Russian

troops fighting during World War I. Local communities rose in protest to the decree of Imperial troops enstating martial law, with some estimates putting the casualties at over one and a half million victims over the five month period and even more fleeing towards China (from which the uprising takes the name Urkun, or Exodus). The term Urkun is the name given by the people for the 1916 Uprising. However

“On their way they saw many dead people, some of them died of starvation or were killed. When they crossed the icy mountain pass, they saw how people were falling down. Fallen people were not raised”. two meanings: 1) chaos, mass flight; 2) refugee. Yudahin gives an example of the term: kyrgyz refugees (urkun kyrgyz el). The term was also used by Mahmud Kashgari in the 11th century, where he explained it as: “hasty movement” of ethnic groups from one region to another. According to this, some people have an incorrect understanding of this word, and for this reason they do not want to use the term “Urkun” for the 1916 Uprising. We should not be afraid of this term, which is historically and linguistically correct. Moreover, the term “Urkun” gives a complete meaning to the uprising. Although these events are very important for the history of Kyrgyzstan, Anthropology students discovered that in southern regions of the country this period of time is poorly investigated and often conflated with the more famous Basmachi rebellion that lasted into the early 1930s. Over the course of their research, students conducted interviews with the witnesses of the uprising or with the children and grandchildren of those who were involved in and affected by the 1916 uprising to reconstruct a picture of those events.

Issyk-Kul province

artwork: Daniar Joldoshbekov

in recent years, some people do not want to use this term because they consider it to carry connotations of animalistic behavior. In their understanding, only animals may suddenly run away in fear in various directions. During their research students tried to find out peoples’ opinions, how they understand this word, what their attitude is toward using this term for the 1916 Uprising, and whether they are

against this term or not. According to the online survey, 88.5 % of the people who have participated know this term Urkun; and even have some understanding of the meaning such as an outcast, violence, human rights abuses, and so on. Urkun is translated as stir or panic. According to Yudahin’s dictionary, the root of the word Urkun is Urk. Urk means fear, anxiety, dismay, running away from panic. The term Urkun is given

From March 6 to 9, Anthropology department students visited towns and villages of the Issyk-Kul region, and stopped by Balykchy, Cholpon-Ata, Karakol, Ak-Bulun (near the border with China), Tosor, and Kara-Koo. During the trip, they had the opportunity to visit the Kyrk-Sheit Mazar considered a holy place, where 40 local people were killed by punitive forces during the 1916 events. Everybody can now see the monument devoted to victims which was built by local people. Only four such monuments exist on the territory of Kyrgyzstan: in Kara-Koo village, a memory stone at the entrance of Karkyra valley, and two official state monuments: one in Boom Gorge and a AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


stone in Victory Park near the Southern Gates in Bishkek. During these four days, the students interviewed ten people. Personal stories shared by the informants were helpful to reconstruct the whole picture of the uprising. Students notably conducted a survey to understand what people associate with the word “Urkun”. During the project, students also had the chance to visit various historic sites, interact with people, and even take some time off to play with little children. The students tried to interview people of different ethnicities. In Karakol city, they met a Dungan informant (Nanshan Anwar Abdulaevich), who shared memories of his grandparents. His greatgrandfather went to Tashkent in 1916 as a merchant. When the uprising began, his family fled to China. On the way there they met Kyrgyz people who fed them. People were hungry, and the mountainous terrain made for a difficult road. According to Anwar’s interview, “On their way they saw many dead people, some of them died of starvation or were killed. When they crossed the icy mountain pass, they saw how people were falling down. Fallen people were not raised.” For many people the pass was the most difficult obstacle because it was very slippery, and they were not sure that they would be able to move beyond it. But there was no desire to go back. Anwar shared another story set during the time when his grand-relatives were on the mountain pass.

Chui province During the field work in Chui region, sixteen persons were interviewed. Nine of these were from Bishkek, treated as a separate unit as the capital and the largest city in Kyrgyzstan, and seven were from other towns and villages of the Chui region. Students had an opportunity to take interviews in Asyl-Bash (Sokuluk city), the village where the revolt started in the northern part of Kyrgyzstan. Thanks to the informants of Chui province, students learned the exact date when the uprising started - information that cannot be found in textbooks. In Bishkek, one Russian woman told an interesting story about how her family was saved by Kyrgyz people. All these stories helped students understand the importance of respecting ethnic diversity; that there are no bad nations but only bad people. In Bishkek city students met Lyubov Vedutova, who shared her story in which we can see the friendship between Kyrgyz


AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

“My grandmother had a brother; he was a few months old. Running away, they managed to grab sheepskin. It was cut, they made cuts, after that they had dressed the baby and tied the belt. Then, on the road, they picked up a blanket and wrapped the baby in it. But when they saw that the people break away from the pass, they decided to take off the skin from the little brother. He was wrapped in a blanket, and they cut the sheep’s skin into strips. They hammered these strips on their way, and then they went through. One wrong move and people fall down, but

thanks to this skin fewer people fell” In Issyk-Kul, students were able to collect lots of stories that showed the tragedy and, of course, how desperately people wanted to survive and how they helped each other. Almost everywhere local people told in their interviews of places where people were killed or died during 1916 uprising. These places, carrying names such as Kyrgyn, AkSook, Kyrk-Sheyit and others [literally extermination, white bones, and forty saints] still speak to these violent and turbulent times.

people and Russian people. Lyubov’s parents lived in Bishkek (known at that time as Pishpek) in 1916. According to her stories, the Kyrgyz saved them during the uprising, hiding them in their own outbuildings. This shows that the inhabitants treated each other with respect in spite of ethnicity. According to the interview, “In Soviet times, it was a blurred and even forbidden topic” because the government of that time thought that the memory of these events could bring further conflict between the Kyrgyz and Russians. From personal experience, she came to believe that Kyrgyz people are friendly to Russian people despite the events of 1916. As Lyubov Mihaylovna mentioned, the term “colonization” does not refer to Kyrgyzstan, “it was not the colonization like colonization in India. The local populations were not servants of Russians. At that time, contact between people was working, people were not forced to serve each other, everyone was independent from each other.” The most interesting fact which Lyubov Vedutova’s parents shared was the lack of a Cossack

regiment in Kyrgyzstan during the uprising - “General Governor of Semirechensk region sent a telegram to St. Petersburg council and to Verny [Ed: present-day Almaty], as there was a Cossack regiment. The Cossack regiment came from Verny and moved hither to pacify rebels. But Tsar Nikolai II sent a telegram, in which he returned Cossack regiment back to Verny and instead sent official troops. The king understood that if Cossacks came, they would destroy the whole population. Of course, there was a tragedy in Kyrgyzstan, but if Cossack’s troops came it would be a lot more blood and more terror. Despite these events, Nikolai II believed that the Kyrgyz were not a colony, and the population of the Kyrgyz people is part of his empire, that they should save but not destroy this nation”. According to L. Mihajlovna’s opinion, the causes of the revolt were not of ethnic character: “I guess this society, that lived many centuries in a nomadic way of life, were forced to live differently as the new people appeared. The change of social life resulted in tragic consequences.”

Osh province The main fieldwork took place from April 29 to May 9 in the south of Kyrgyzstan. For many students, it was the first visit to this part of the country. Accompanied by supervisor Aida Abdykanova and head of the Anthropology Department Cholpon Chotaeva, they arrived to the city of Osh on April 29. They spent one day in Alai district where they travelled to the villages of Alai and Chon-Alai. They discovered another Kyrgyzstan with mountains of different colors. In Chon-Alai, students visited a secondary school, and were pleasantly surprised with the nature and behavior of locals. Everyone was very kind and hospitable: the same country, but still so different from Bishkek. In the evenings after the interviews, they did some sightseeing in Osh city, at Sulaiman-Too and Sulaiman-Too Museum, and learned the history of each building during walks along the main streets of the city.

In Osh, the students were able to meet with the representative of another ethnic group - Uzbeks. Shavkhat Atahanov Associate Professor of History at Osh State University. For a long time, he has studied the events of 1916. According to Shavkhat, the rebellion in the south of the country began on June 10. Of course, the uprising in the South was different from the uprising that took place in the north. This rebellion was not so cruel, but it took so many lives. Many people were killed in the village of Izan. “During the uprising in the south, 40% of Kyrgyz were killed, Kyrgyz have suffered more than other nations.” But Shavkhat said that it was a tragedy of all peoples who lived in the uprising. Uzbeks have a song dedicated to the uprising of 1916, sung still when Uzbeks have celebrations. Shavkhat believes that the uprising in 1916 will remain a great historical event for Kyrgyzstan, and as he opines: “I have to talk about this rebellion, because people should know the history, my son should know the history!”

Also in Osh province, students were able to meet with people whose relatives became part of the uprising, whose family fled to China, and whose relatives fought for freedom.

and let the cats run into the houses of Russian peasants; an event with very cruel consequences. However, the southern part of Kyrgyzstan escaped the full impact of these event a bit, because the 1916 uprising was more widespread in northern Kyrgyzstan. Ibraimov said that the uprising was not genocide. Now it’s just history that should teach us a lesson.

During these months of research, AUCA’s Anthropology students were able to not only broaden understanding of this moment of Central Asia’s history but also to become better acquainted with modern Kyrgyzstan. This fieldwork taught them how to conduct research by working as a team, communicating with people, interviewing them, and becoming familiar with the way they lived. This practical experience with the emic approach of anthropology, which focuses on the thoughts and memories of primary sources rather than observations by researchers themselves, will also prove valuable as the students undertake further research projects at AUCA and during their professional careers.

“I have to talk about this rebellion, because people should know the history, my son should know the history!”

Jalal-Abad province After two days of fieldwork in Osh province, students continued to JalalAbad region. On the way, they stopped by Uzgen city where they witnessed the diversity of the Uzgen bazar and the uniqueness of Uzgen’s historical complex. Very beautiful and green, JalalAbad region made quite an impression on students. It was a province with a strong Islamic influence. In the city of Jalal-Abad, a lot of women were wearing hijabs. They visited villages in eastern Jalal-Abad province, including Mazar Bulak and Kalmak-Kyrchyn. Unfortunately, students could hardly find people in the region who were able to share memories of their parents and grandparents. For the last evening of their journey, they visited the famous spa resort near Jalal-Abad with chloridesulfate waters. In Jalal-Abad region students met with Bakyt Ibraimov, who is writing his doctoral thesis on the Uprising of 1916. Together they visited the area of Mazar Bulak in Kor-Art valley, where 28 people were killed during 1916. “People at that time said that it was an anti-feudal movement, but there were people who thought it was an anti-colonial rebellion.” According to the Ibraimov story, people did not want to join the revolt and some of them escaped to the mountains. Ibraimov said the uprising began on June 4 in the city of Samarkand, but that before the uprising they had conflicts with Russian people because of land and water. According to people’s stories, heroes were those who rebelled against Russia. People traded their sheep for cats, then tied kerosene-filled jars onto the animals. They then set fire to the jar

During the research in the southern part of Kyrgyzstan, nine informants were interviewed. In the south, people were less informed about the revolt and they often confused it with the Basmachi movement.

Full interviews will be presented as part of the 2016 conference organized by the American University of Central Asia to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Revolt, as well as in a documentary film on the topic. The 1916 Rebellion remains an important event in Kyrgyz history and all people, especially the youth of modern Kyrgyzstan, should be aware of this past.

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


SILC-Sponsored Research

Gives Sahar Hashimzada The Opportunity To See International Relations First-hand in Kabul


enior ICP student Sahar Hashimzada’s final year at AUCA has opened opportunities for research in the field that after graduation will leave her poised not only as a young expert on the state of relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, but also prepared to enter political service in Afghanistan with firsthand experience of how the field works and what needs to be done to improve one of the country’s most contentious regional relationships. With the support of the Student Intellectual Life Committee (SILC), Sahar spent spring break meeting with political analysts in Kabul to conduct interviews about the relationship of confrontation and cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and how this relationship has developed in the years since Pakistan’s independence in 1947. The motivation for pursuing such a contentious research topic, according to Sahar, was two-fold: “Whenever the issue of Afghanistan came up in my classes to discuss they always think about Afghanistan as the source of tensions which exist because of security, and as my classmates are mostly from the Central Asian countries they also think of Afghanistan as a big security risk for their own countries. I wanted to find out what the reason was behind this. The other reason is, in the past from 2001 up until now, the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan was very tough. Sometimes


AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

it’s good; sometimes it’s very tough. They never succeed to make a stable and good relationship. According to this, the risk of conflicts was very high, but since we have this new government the new president (Mohammad Ashraf Ghani) went to Pakistan. Now these two countries are very positive in their relations, and now they put everything aside and think about bringing changes in peace and security.” With her thesis advisor’s encouragement, Sahar utilized the research skills she gained over her years as an International and Comparative Politics student at AUCA to build a project that reaches beyond available academic literature on the subject and focuses on interviews with primary sources working as political analysts in the region. An Afghan student studying in Bishkek on an Open Societies Foundation scholarship, these interviews presented Sahar a unique opportunity to improve research on the topic while simultaneously building connections to further her own career goals after leaving AUCA. The discussions were not always encouraging as regards the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan, with many sources pointing to a long history of mutual distrust and outright deception between the two states, but the interviewees were much more positive about Sahar herself and the scope of her research. After a series of particularly pointed questions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kabul, the analyst concluded the interview with an

expression of admiration for Sahar’s ability to dig deep into her topic and put pressure on the key issues: “When are you gonna graduate? In June 2015? Come and work with us!” Back at AUCA for her final semester, Sahar’s thesis presentations point out the three main challenges that continue to define the relationship between these two countries: the issue of the Taliban (and Pakistan’s alleged support for the movement), the issue of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and their representations in mass media versus activities in reality, and the issue of border disputes between the two countries. The research has, it seems, come as some surprise to the senior students of the ICP department as well. With the dominant narrative in secondary sources focused strictly on the role the Taliban has played in destabilizing Afghanistan, few of Sahar’s classmates were aware of the role of groups like the ISI in contributing to the situation. For her entire department, then, this research has expanded the conversation on and understanding of security in Afghanistan and the larger regional effect on Central Asia. For Sahar, the chance to conduct primary research in Kabul was itself the result of perseverance. In detailing other off-campus experiences as an ICP student, beginning with a 2012 Model United Nations trip to Kazakhstan, she sees parallels to the research trip to Kabul as an opportunity to


What is the purpose of SILC? The GOAL of SILC is to promote excellence in research, learning, and overall intellectual development of students in the American University of Central Asia. The purpose of SILC is based on the acknowledgement that student’s scholarly experience is an integral component of Liberal Arts Education, and that such research-based learning will better prepare students to fulfill their plans, aspirations, goals and dreams. Which activities does SILC perform? Generally, SILC encourages a move toward “research-based learning” in AUCA, promotes increased opportunities for undergraduate students to have experiences as students – scholars and provides venue for student’s scholarly accomplishments to be recognized, promoted and made available. More precisely, SILC administers the Student Research Fund to encourage and promote student research. SILC will evaluate applications for funding and award grants to support students’ field or archival research. SILC administers the Student Travel Fund to support students’ participation in international conferences, workshops, cultural exchange programs, and researchrelated activities. SILC members make decision about the Best Thesis Award for which it uses thoroughly developed criteria and procedures. Important Deadlines SILC award grants are considered on a monthly basis, according to the following deadlines: 15th - Application Submission Deadline 18th - Review of Applications 30th - Notification of Successful Applicants For more information, visit SILC on the AUCA website at

take classroom experience and apply it to practical circumstances. Sahar also reminisces about her first two applications for SILC travel grants, and points to their encouragement as one of the motivating factors in submitting a further proposal to solicit funding for interviews in Kabul: “We highly hope that you will continue applying to SILC and not lose hope!” As the only accepted applicant of eighteen aspiring AUCA students from the Afghan province of Kunduz, the chance to study beyond the borders of Afghanistan was itself the fulfillment of a dream for this young student. With the encouragement of her father, who himself attended university in the Soviet Union, Sahar passed up opportunities to study in Afghanistan and India and chose Bishkek. Building off of her studies at AUCA and field research in Kabul, Sahar plans to return to Afghanistan after graduation to work in the political sphere. Discussing her future, she points to her academic background as the foundation of her ongoing success. “I want to thank the SILC committee, as well as AUCA, for providing all these opportunities for me. Without SILC and AUCA, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. Now I feel myself as a kind of experienced and connected person who will fulfill my dreams; and AUCA made the way for me to achieve this. When my classmates asked me “What kind of person are you?” I would say: I am a dreamer. They say: “A daydreaming person? Like what?” And I say to them no, a dreamer, but the kind of person who tries to achieve their dreams. This kind of attitude really helped me to the

position and the person I am now. Also, I would say that AUCA was the main positive impact on the dream that I achieved. If a person is like me, who has a list of dreams to achieve, then I prefer for them to apply to AUCA because it is a perfect place for them to achieve their dreams. Because of AUCA I traveled to Kazakhstan two times, I joined the crisis games, I joined the Tian Shan Model UN Kyrgyzstan, I joined the AIESEC contest at the US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan, and now to Rome, Italy; all because of my background at AUCA.” With this academic base and after additional work experience in Kabul, Sahar intends to apply to the Fulbright Scholar Program to pursue a Master’s degree in the US; here’s hoping that this time she gets accepted on the first try!

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


Author: Begimai Sataeva

Reporting On one Year At AUCA TV A

UCA TV – our own television channel - is one of the distinctive qualities of the American University in Central Asia. Students not only apply their knowledge in practice, but also reveal their creative potential. With it’s own studio, editing rooms, high-level software, and equipment - these elements allow AUCA TV members to produce quality video and photo productions. AUCA Magazine’s Begimai Sataeva interviewed several members of the AUCA TV team to learn about their experience as one of the voices of American University of Central Asia, and to hear more about their plans for the future of the channel. In the halls of the university, one young man can always be spotted with different types of cameras in his hands. Bakhrom Tursunov is AUCA TV’s producer, responsible for developing the storylines, shootings processes, and subsequently for the entire body of work of AUCA TV. Bakhrom is also an alumnus of the”New Generation Academy” program, and since completion of this one-year preparatory program he has successfully continued his studies at the American University in Central Asia. Many people mistakenly think that he is a student of the Journalism and Mass Communications department. “When I studied at school, I could not imagine that I would become a student of American University of Central Asia. I knew it was one of the most prestigious universities of Kyrgyzstan and the cost of tuition was very high. Luckily, in 2012 AUCA has launched a new preparatory 26

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

program called New Generation Academy. I was among the pioneers of this program. Within one year, we were tought by different teachers and were ready to pass all the entrance exams. I need to mention that NGA has provided me with this wonderful opportunity of being a student of AUCA. Still my financial situation was in need of support at that stressful moment. Then, I found out about the US-Central Asia Education Foundation program. I decided to apply for this program and my good educational performance and respectable entrance exam results made me lucky to acquire the scholarship. Now I am one of the 15 students who are studying on the scholarship provided by the US-CAEF. I discovered interest for photography in myself when I was at secondary school. I loved taking pictures and writing different interesting articles about our school. Photography was my favorite hobby, on which I used to spend most of my free time out of school studies. Then AUCA has opened up new vistas for creativity. Majority of students confuse me with the students from the journalism department, because all the time I’m making various videos and taking pictures of events. In fact, my department is Business Administration, but my hobby has stood the same over these many years. At first I wanted to apply for the department of information technologies, then for journalism, however when I found out that I became a finalist of US-CAEF

program, I chose Business Administration. US-CAEF offers scholarships only to Business Administration and Economics departments. I thought I would be bored in this department, and I could not use my skills. After several months of studying, I realized that my choice was not wrong. I am improving my professional skills, and in the future I want to associate my business with these skills. Our department is very friendly, and during two years of study we have become one big family. I really like to create video content that will be of interest to our students, professors, and staff. If highly developed countries consist of people representing different ethnic groups and religious backgrounds, my team is gathered from students coming from various departments. All are working on a voluntary basis. My co-workers are not professionals or Oscar winners, we are just people who love what we do and use all our efforts to develop ourselves every single day. There are many cases when students refer to us by saying that we inspire them every day by making our university visible and recognizable around the globe just by using AUCA TV. Within these four short months, our team has been capable of increasing our audience several times over. Our videos in average gain 500 to 600 views each. Of course, there are many critics who like making different comments on the videos we make. However, we are always open to all kinds of criticism, which will make our time stronger

Our videos in average gain 500 to 600 views each. Of course, there are many critics who like making different comments on the videos we make. However, we are always open to all kinds of criticism, which will make our time stronger and our team better in the future, and we are keen on learning from our random mistakes!”- Bakhrom Tursunov

and our team better in the future, and we are keen on learning from our random mistakes!” - Bakhrom Tursunov Ayperi Zhanyzakova is a reporter of AUCA TV. She is a 3rd year student of the Journalism and Mass Communication department. Ayperi is a practicing journalist and the winner of different international contests. Ayperi is TV presenter of the “My Fortune” project – a program about interesting and successful people who are making contributions to society and inspiring others. She is also engaged in production of a series of video reports devoted to the 70th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War. “What I like at AUCA TV is professionalism among its staff, students,

and volunteers. They know how to do their job at the highest level and you can see results already. This sphere of AUCA life is functioning not just for fun, but by going worldwide through internet. AUCA TV is one of the greatest tool to work on our university’s reputation. That is why we work hard on our projects. Since it is also a student club at the university, the support from the staff, students, and volunteers is very high. During the course of this work, we have managed to raise the prestige of AUCA TV and increase our audience. Of course there might be funny awkward situations in the process. I remember I was going to interview a guest for the program. I have prepared all the materials, all questions for the interview. Everything was fine, but I was a little nervous. I went by car to the shooting. I had extra time so I was calm. But suddenly I had no time to pass the intersection as a red light came out on the railroad. I waited about 15-20 minutes. Unfortunately I was more than half an hour late for my interview. The guest was ready to leave, but he saw my pitiful face and decided to stay. From such moments and lessons I am hardening my professional nature. In the future, I plan to open my own author’s program at AUCA TV with stories about the good people at the university and outside it, and to do experimental journalism in our channel to try myself in different directions. Before I graduate and continue my career, I want to get more practice, as my colleague Bakhrom is doing.” Samat Durusbekov is responsible for the technical side of AUCA TV. He is not visible on the screen, however he carries great responsibility. Samat is a student of the Anthropology department, and his profession is closely connected with documentary video and photo production. “I always wanted to stop time, and I did it. How? I just got a phone and started taking photos. I have developed my photography skills since my childhood, and it became my hobby. When I was at school, I am not sure when exactly, I think

I was in 4th or 5th grade, and someone gave me a present – a phone which could take photos. So, my friends always took videos. Our first video was action genre; we called it “Street fights”. But at that time, I did not know how to actually make a video, its techniques, like to add music so the video will be more interesting. Once, I took another phone and turned on music at the time of video shooting. In this way, the music would be recorded in parallel with the video, and then the whole thing would become a film. This is how I enjoyed photography and video making back then. AUCA TV is the first extracurricular club that I joined when I entered AUCA. When I came, I was asked if I can use a camera. So they gave me a camera and I would walk around the University shooting videos, taking photos, and I liked it. In my freshman year, I was a cameraman. In my second year at the University the head of AUCA TV graduated and left, so AUCA TV stopped working. I did not want AUCA TV to disappear just like that, so I took the responsibility to restart it. There were around 5-6 people in our team, they all helped me a lot, and we started shooting videos about AUCA news and concerts. Thanks to Dinara Orozbaeva, director of the PR office at AUCA, we got to the next level. Dinara helped us in many ways, not only in technical parts but also she always encouraged us, taught us how to shoot good quality videos and report materials. We are so thankful to her. At this moment I am a head of AUCA TV. One of my goals is to develop AUCA TV as much as possible, not only within AUCA but also across Kyrgyzstan. I want everyone to see what great professionals and young successful students are graduating from AUCA.” Adilet Dubaev is a Journalism student, and this is his second education and degree. Charisma, natural photogenic and communication skills belong to Adilet. These qualities led Adilet to AUCA TV, and he became a TV presenter of the AUCA channel. “My business is to create. Originally,

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“I always wanted to stop time, and I did it. How? I just got a phone and started taking photos. I have developed my photography skills since my childhood, and it became my hobby. When I was at school, I am not sure when exactly, I think I was in 4th or 5th grade, and someone gave me a present – a phone which could take photos. -Samat durusbekov

What I like at AUCA TV is professionalism among its staff, students, and volunteers. They know how to do their job at the highest level and you can see results already. -Ayperi Zhanyzakova

I wanted to enroll in the faculty of BA, but soon I decided a better tandem of marketing is public relations and I chose the faculty of journalism. Why so? Because I will take PR, at the same time AUCA policy allows me to take any courses BA and it will get easier if you concentrate on the marketing in conjunction with PR. Diploma doesn’t have primary priority for me, and I can choose any course I need. Now, I am taking such opportunities, which AUCA provides. I came at the invitation of friends, Samat and Bakhrom. They knew how passionate I am about video and photo productions. Gradually, I joined the newly created team AUCA TV. In the near future


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we plan a new section where I will devote more time and focus. Now, preparing for new reporters in the future, they will replace me. AUCA TV is a small information product that our team rotates to the next level to improve the quality of the information provided. For me it’s a priceless experience to develop my skills and I take this issue with the utmost seriousness. I will say that the staff of AUCA TV is the best, and I’m trying to do the best. The process goes by different means, often prolonged laughter and brainstorming. Our team emphasizes on the positive. For example, our student print publication focused on the negative aspects in the lives of students, we reverse. Videos and photos can capture the best moments of each student in the various activities of the University, and we want that our audience retains the best of their student life. All the members of AUCA TV are very talented and creative. We often share ideas when there is a collection of command or even casual encounters. If this is really cool, the whole team are going to do it even better. I like this Playground where you can experiment and implement their ideas. All this gives more pleasure in the work of AUCA TV.”

people is our mission. If you ask about professionalism, I will answer that AUCA TV members are professionals. They work with our alumni and representative of media companies, who help us unconditionally. Our mission is to support young people who are creating and promoting socially meaningful content in the media environment. The task of our journalists - an objective, truthful, interesting and fun broadcasting, sharing this information with an audience that is basically the people of AUCA. Speaking about the results of 2014: students began to do better reports, promo video clips, and they sometimes write for our website. When we started there were only two journalists plus one cameraman. Now our team consists of 12 people: journalists, operators and editors, and this is just the beginning.

All of this could not happen without support and contribution of Dinara Orozbaeva, Director of PR at AUCA. From the very beginning of the rebranding of AUCA TV she has createed, helped, and collaborated with AUCA TV members not only professionally, but psychologically and mentally as well.

Exactly one year ago these guys have written an appeal to our president to support AUCA TV, their staff requested to join our public relations department, and of course Dr. Wachtel supported their initiative and forwarded them to me. Honestly it was nice to me that students want to work with me. I am happy to do it, and I am doing my best. They are my future wings and many years later, I’m sure all of them: Samat, Bakhrom, Begimai, Ayperi, Adilet, Erlan, and others; they will be successful people, professionals. I am sure that I will look at them and will be proud of my students.

“AUCA TV is a platform where young, active, creative, and purposeful guys; whether they are future journalists or anthropologists, sociologists, or businessmen; they learn to work with information, get practical experience, closely work in one team, create and develop media projects, and help build open civil society. Supporting intellectual development of talented young

I would like to thank Andrew Wachtel, that he has entrusted to me the university TV channel and thanks to the guys for their efforts desire to grow. They are a team, and staying together, they have nothing to fear. In 2015, we will create many more interesting projects. We will have our uniform, we will recruit new talents, and hopefully we will have a private room in the new campus.”

Tian Shan Policy Center

Launches An International Interdisciplinary Project To Assess The Geological And Socio-ecologic Impact Of Glacier Melt


he Tian Shan Policy Center (TSPC) is glad to present its new Project which was officially launched at the end of April 2015. The project’s title is “Changes in glacier and snow‐melt runoff components in Central Asia and societal vulnerability” and it is funded by Volkswagen Foundation of Germany. TSPC will be implementing this three-year regional Project in consortium with several other organizations: German Research Centre for Geosciences (Potsdam/Germany), Central Asian Institute for Applied Geosciences (Bishkek/Kyrgyzstan), Regional Centre of Hydrology (Almaty/Kazakhstan), KyrgyzRussian Slavic University (Bishkek/ Kyrgyzstan), and United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security (Bonn/Germany). The Project aims at measuring and modelling the contributions of individual runoff components in selected glacierised river catchments in the Northern Tien Shan. With the validated hydrological models, reliably reproducing individual runoff components, the attribution of past changes in runoff components, and investigation of potential future changes is intended. The geoscientific approach will be combined with the assessment of the socio‐ecologic vulnerability of individual societal groups and economic sectors to changes in water availability and runoff regimes. The development and evaluation of adaptation measures will be carried out with focus on the resilience of local communities to projected changes in water availability. Special emphasis will be put on the training and qualification of young Central Asian researchers.

Project Overview The mountains of Central Asia, which include Tien Shan and Pamir‐Alai, act as the flow formation zone (“water towers”) of Central Asian river basins. Snow and glacier melt are believed to substantially contribute to spring and summer runoff, providing water at a convenient time for agriculture and compensating for the effects of precipitation minima in warm and dry years. The mountains of Central Asia, which include Tien Shan and Pamir that feed major tributaries of the Amudarya, Syrdarya, and Tarim Rivers, exhibit particularly high relative water yield compared to the lowland

parts of these catchments. Related to the economic water demands in the lowland plains, the Tien Shan and Pamir ranges are among the most important contributors of stream water worldwide. However, changes in climate are expected to alter the seasonality of runoff peaks as well as the short‐ and long‐term water yields of the headwater catchments in many parts of the world. This can have adverse socio‐economic effects and may increase flood hazard in riparian communities. Up to now, it remains unclear whether on‐going glacier shrinkage has already reached the “tipping point” where further continuous degradation of glaciers no longer results

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


in increased river runoff contribution. Moreover, the identification of the relative contribution of various runoff components to changes in runoff and water availability solely based on time‐series analysis seems to be difficult. For this, a validated model‐based approach will be used in the Project to clarify the true mechanisms translating climatic variability into runoff response. Understanding the mechanisms leading to runoff changes is a prerequisite for long‐term assessment of water availability and development of adaptation strategies. Similarly, the assessment of vulnerability of economic sectors and population groups to multiple changes in water resources, and the appraisal of where or when they are the most vulnerable, are of high importance. Besides measuring the exact nature


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of changes in water availability, it is essential to understand the interactions and feedbacks in coupled human‐ environment systems (also called social‐ ecological systems) when investigating vulnerability to climatic changes. In general, Project activities could be grouped into the following work packages: •

WP1: Project coordination and capacity development.

WP2: Field observations and process analysis.

WP3: Runoff modelling, attribution of past and future changes.

WP4: Assessment of socio-ecological vulnerability and adaptation measures.

TSPC is responsible for the implementation of work package 4 – vulnerability assessment and adaptation measures. This component consists of the following activities: Conducting interviews with experts and stakeholders, household surveys, focus‐group discussions, and round tables to identify current and potential effects of hydrological changes on local communities; •

Defining the most vulnerable communities and groups, and compiling a vulnerability map;

Developing and prioritizing candidate adaptation activities according to their potential impact;

Increasing income of the vulnerable groups and thus improving their climate resilience. Various ways of optimizing their income could be tried, e.g. consolidated bargaining for their livestock sales or optimizing of the livestock sales schedule to achieve better market prices. Project Launch

On April 28-29, 2015 the Inception Workshop took place to convene all Project partners at the office of the Central Asian Institute of Applied Geosciences in Bishkek. Zheenbek Kulenbekov, Program Chair of the Environmental Management and Sustainable Development program at AUCA, and three first year students from the same concentration (Aziz Aitbaev, Bayan Akhmet, and Bermet Begilerova) participated in this important meeting. It was decided at the meeting that TSPC/ AUCA should select relevant areas in the Chuy valley where local villagers would experience the most acute problems with irrigation water availability. Later, AUCA students would help conduct a survey to identify the major economic activities in these selected areas in order to design most appropriate adaptation activities. Ultimately, we intend to identify the most vulnerable communities and groups within the local population as well as to assess the vulnerability of different economic sectors and subsectors in the study areas. Depending on the availability of sufficient spatially explicit data, vulnerability maps will be generated to show particularly vulnerable areas within the case studies. Furthermore, the identification of existing, the development of new, and a subsequent ranking of pilot adaptation activities and strategies in selected communities to cope with changes of water availability are envisaged. This will allow decision‐makers to prioritize support for certain adaptation efforts.

Piloting selected adaptation measures to validate their effectiveness.

Chuy valley was selected as the main Project area and all activities will be realized there. Literature review and consultations with stakeholders will be conducted to identify and develop specific adaptation measures in selected communities within Chui oblast. Here we also plan to cooperate closely with similar projects/initiatives working in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia on climate resilience and adaptation issues. In addition, some of the identified adaptation measures are planned to be conducted as pilot measures with the local population. These activities could include simple and easily implementable activities such as: •

Implementation of various simple water saving techniques to reduce the irrigation water needs of local communities, e.g. covering the soil with straw. Such techniques greatly reduce evaporation and thus watering needs, and fertilize the soil at the same time

Increasing the coping abilities of the local communities and reducing their dependence on pastoralism. Alternative income‐generation activities might include simple processing of agricultural/livestock products, making of traditional handicrafts, and horticulture with some locally produced elements of drip irrigation.

The proposed Project will contribute inter‐ disciplinary empirical evidence on changes in water resources and their consequences on social, economic, and ecological processes that can inform policy‐making in terms of integrated water resources management and climate change adaptation, thus contributing directly to sustainable development in the region. The Project will strengthen the methodological expertise of young Central Asian researchers and students, both in their particular scientific discipline as well through the enhancement of interdisciplinary thinking. The involvement of institutions from two Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and two scientific disciplines as well as two international research centers will foster scientific cooperation across boundaries and scientific communities. This will be an invaluable asset for future joint research projects.

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


A Look into

with Nikolay Shulgin

Author: Begimai Sataeva


AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


he theater group “Mirrors” is the smithy of musical and dance talents at the American University of Central Asia, which helps students to fully realize their potential. During its’ existence the theater has become a separate element of the university, gaining more and more fans and conquering more and more scenes. At the very beginning of creation of the theater group stands Nikolay Shulgin, a rare example of dedication to his profession. Currently Dean of Student Life at AUCA, Nikolay Shulgin has seen the growth of many talents during his time working with “Mirrors” and opened the curtain and shared some details of the work of the theater group. Please tell us about your previous experience, how did you start with the performing arts at AUCA? Before coming to my current position, I worked as the head of a children’s drama school. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the studio also collapsed, but before that we had time to make some performances with the kids. I came to AUK (at that time it was American University of Kyrgyzstan) as a football and bodybuilding coach. I am, after all, a three-time football champion of the Kyrgyz Republic Cup. I also played for the capital team of Osh city “Alai”, where we won the cup of the Kyrgyz Republic. After a while, the administration knew about my theater experience and I was asked to organize the Initiation ceremony for freshmen students. Previous work in this regard was weak: ceremonies before were, frankly speaking, pathetic. However, people who organized these events before were non-professionals, simply enthusiastic professors with no experience and possibly no relevant specializations. The first AUCA Initiation performance I organized was in 1999. I clearly remember those days: a concert scheduled at the Theater of Opera and Ballet was my starting point. A month before this event, I had the same dream every night again and again. I thought that I was mad, but after these came the memorable day of the first Initiation under my control... If we compare the current organization of the event to those fifteen years ago, the difference is obvious and huge. At that time there was nothing but the stage and the participants themselves. Now we can allow ourselves different types of sceneries, special light, a set of attributes that make it possible to realize the most daring ideas. At those years there was nothing, and I wanted to create something unusual. The case went awry, I was shocked, but what is good is that in

such situations ideas come instantly. During the preparation I was fired five times. Imagine, in 1999, an empty stage and 4 hours until the start. I was horrified to realize that no one will give us anything. From that moment, the theater gradually began to emerge from the empty place. I decided to collect all the flags of the countries that were at AUCA and we decorated the scene. We assembled a rainbow from flags and put the freshman on the top, it was deeply symbolic. When the official part was over, I began this memorable concert. Compared with previous years, it was on the level of outer space. First, I wrote a lot of poems for this event. The work “The House named AUCA” for a long time had been one of the most popular … After 5 cases of dismissal, the 6th was not a dismissal but a new appointment. Camila Sharshekeeva came to me and asked how I would like to call the new student office and what I would like to have in this new office. With this, in fact, from the creation of the theater I started a student office which did not exist before... That was such a funny, but also a sad day, because then the fun ended and the next day I had to be near with my family and our woes. Generally, it was a hard 60 days for me. I lost my father, who was sick, while I was working on this performance. I think he did not want his death to interfere with me. So, in a sense, AUCA prolonged the life of my father for two months. Sometimes I watch the record of this concert; compared with the current level it was weaker, but so cute and so sincere. The newly created Student Office consisted of two people. Kanykei Mukhtarov was working with me, to whom I am very grateful for the huge help. Again, we started from scratch to develop other directions of extracurricular activities. We found a volunteer and began writing the Code of Conduct, create clubs, student senate, revived the newspaper, made the first calendar of events, invented Orientation Week, Diversity Week and many more. We had one room - №104, where on top of each other were seated our group of volunteers. At this time, we created the traditions. I remember, we stole a huge stone in the mountains (do not tell anyone), now known as the Alumni stone, I bargained with a drunken guard on an abandoned barge in Balykchy to buy a bell which now reads “If today you have become better than yesterday,

even a little bit, strike this bell.” in front of the university. How is the theater changing every year, how it works inside? We are a non-professional theater, without a single fixed composition. I do not know what will happen tomorrow, and who will perform. Four years - this is the maximum time of working in the theater for the students. We do not have a standing repertoire - we create something new every time. Structural construction of the theater is very simple. The director is the dictator. Other options cannot exist, they just do not happen. All participants are entitled to a deliberative vote, and they use it with great pleasure. Since last year, we are realizing the idea where we are playing a scene without saying any word, it is very difficult to run the show if you have to use the three main languages which are practiced at AUCA: Kyrgyz, English, and Russian. We work with a storyline which is held from beginning to end, for example: life, love, death, resurrection, waiting scarlet sails. Dancing and singing are the most expressive elements; we show all the things that we want to show. It all depends on the people with whom I am working. The last two years a very strong choreographic group dominated, we had very strong dramatic artists among my pupils. Maxim Poletaev, Venera Kim, Julia Rutskaya, Salkynay Voinov, Marat Yusupov, Maksat Tynaev Nikita Menshov, Rita Skochilo, and Batyr Shabdanov often led our shows ... they are the ones who now enter the scene. It’s hard to list, I’m afraid to forget someone. The mass of students that passed through the theater are now involved in other matters, but when they think about this time they start to cry. If we talk about current artists, they are very active and professional. Sometimes I get the feeling that AUCA is the professional ballet school. We never say “no” to students who came to the theater. If you come, be ready to suffer – then suffer! Nobody will expel you without your wish. Work, and dream that someday you will stand in the first row. Dance group is working almost every day. Not everybody is able to survive during the rehearsals; hard work is more important than talent. We work really hard. For two months the artists practice these principles: 50 people, who understand that there is no word “shy”, it’s called “losing concentration”.

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The problem of the theater is that it’s a lot of working for hours to perform only two hours on stage. We must plan at least five to ten concert acts, which are expensive. Expensive equipment - light, sound, graphics. We hope that with the arrival of the new campus, we get a stage that will allow us to do more performances than we do now. It’s not so hard to teach a man to lift his leg to a certain height, but this is just exercises. Creativity begins when there are emotions. The artist has to worry, he is obliged to. As soon as you step onto the stage, lights dazzle, applause stun, you will forget about this excitement. The most important thing when you are on the stage is not to lose concentration. What is on the face of the actor who dances and sings is the reaction of the public. Play it like football, you play, but you never know the result. At the end of the performance you experience the peak of happiness, it is appropriate to the expression “Now I would die” a very positive phrase when you know that it could not be better. That means – it turned out! Soon we are moving to the new campus. Eighteen years of my life have passed in the old building. In the creation of the final ceremony was born the idea of making a sad clown performing act. We do not sing and dance, we are playing on feelings, making the movements and the pauses. There were funny situations. The girl could not play at all. We thought that we would not be able to realize the idea with clowns. Then we created a full sequence of actions, rehearsed step by step, facial expression at a certain point, etc. She filmed the show on her phone and learned “all the notes,” she did everything right. We got what we wanted - a little pathetic creature. She herself. She just did not know about it, before she came to the theater. No one knew, and now everyone knows. Our concert - a single performing act, an integral work. With regard to the fact of what we play, the theme is always the same - love, love each other, love for the university, the love for its story. Sometimes it seems that exactly at this moment we fully feel the spirit of the uniqueness of our university.

The Spirit of AUCA is invisible. Part of it will be always in the old building, which we spiritualized and now we are leaving. A portion of that spirit will be always with us and live in us as long as we exist. 34

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Alumni Spotlight

Idris Jonmamadov, Software Engineering 2009 What is the most interesting thing that you remember about being an AUCA student? As a kid growing up in the Pamir mountains of Tajikistan I learned that no matter how hard you fall you have to get up and keep going, and AUCA was a place that taught me the same lesson but in an academic environment. Despite the fact that my first semester, perhaps, was one of the toughest moments encountered; I kept moving forward. AUCA surprised me with its freedom from day one. Honestly, it took me a while to get used to the dynamics and to the vibe of our university – the dynamic that eventually encourages each of us to change the world and make it a better place. While a student I noticed how the environment promotes integrity

and ethics, which played a crucial role in my understanding of how a real corruption-free and meritocratic society should look. Those are the values I’ve been honing throughout my studies and through my professional career. Tell us about your career path. Being a SFW major, we coded four years in a row and I was willing to take some time off and try something different. This is what I had in mind when graduating – I wanted to try something new outside the IT industry that would have exposed me to a sphere I have never had a chance to explore. Right after graduation I returned to Tajikistan and started as a marketing intern with OXUS microfinance. I traveled across the country, which enabled me to face realities in rural areas of the country as opposed to urban areas. I believe that was the turning point in my life when I resolved to work more closely with the remote regions. Later in 2010, I was promoted to a loan administrator and was assigned to a team to set up our new branch office in Kulyab, in the southern region of the country. For background

information, the people of the Pamirs (where I’m originally from) and people of Kulyab were the two fighting groups during the civil war of the 90s – one of the darkest pages of the modern history of Tajikistan. Many of my friends discouraged me from taking the job in that region but I did notwithstanding. Today, looking back, I can confidently say that this was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in terms of personal as well as professional development. I made many life-long friends and more importantly discovered that we had so many similarities among the two regions. Kulyab is my second home now! Afterwards, I joined a USAID funded educational project in 2011 as a database manager (plus I volunteered to be a legislation/media observer) and again was working closely in the field. At the same time I served as an expert for the Tajikistan branch of Open Society Institute (a Soros Foundation project) for their IT and Media programs. It was more than a year into my USAID job when I was approached to take over the “New Media Development” project of the Internews network in Tajikistan. When the project with Internews was over, in 2013, I served the World Bank Group as a consultant for their external communications during their 20-year partnership anniversary with Tajikistan. While I was working for the World Bank Group, I was notified that I was selected as a finalist of the Fulbright Program. The scholarship gave me an amazing opportunity to pursue my Masters in Public Administration in one of the leading public affairs institutions in the US – Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University. Upon completion of my degree, I returned to Tajikistan and it has been four months now that I have been working with FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance as a project manager for disaster preparedness project (DIPECHO), financed by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection department. Favorite thing about your job? Working for such a reputable and recognized organization as FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance is truly an immense honor as the organization aims to provide disaster mitigation and preparedness programs in vulnerable communities around the world. As an organization we are involved in saving human lives by disaster risk management, thus being part of this process is the most rewarding thing about my job. We foster disaster-resilient communities in the most remote mountainous regions and help assess the villages, prepare for natural or man-made disasters, and educate the population on ways to reduce risk and help others in case of emergency.

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


Alumni Spotlight

You have rich international experience, having studied and worked abroad. Why have you returned to Tajikistan? Why have I returned to Tajikistan? There is an excellent proverb in Russian that reflects my motivation – Где родился, там и пригодился (Editor’s Note: “Where one is born, there he is useful.”). Returning to my hometown of Khorog was something that was always in my mind since I left home at the age of 19. It took me ten years to come back. It’s a blessing that I work and live in my hometown, while at the same time feeling extremely committed and fulfilled to contribute to the well-being of my community. We have so many young, talented, educated, and passionate people working and living abroad and I believe that each one of them dreams of one day coming back to make a difference. We just need to create more opportunities and incentives to attract and retain brilliant minds. What are some tips that you would like to share with current AUCA students? My tips for current AUCA students are those I keep telling my younger cousins. Study hard - these four years will most likely determine the rest of your life. So please take it seriously. Obviously, there should be time for joy, for relaxation, and for sports but one thing you should remember is that in the globalized world you are competing against your peers from around the world rather than just against your AUCA classmates. Learn to work in projects with international students. Be the best in, at least, one discipline that relates to your future career plans. There will be up and downs – be ready for both and consider it a natural process. Don’t make a big deal out of your success or your failure. Appreciate what you have. Maybe you will not like some of your future jobs but remember that from each one you will gain valuable experience and knowledge. Spend more time with your family, as you don’t know where you will end up after graduation. What do you miss the most about AUCA? I miss my classmates and my professors from the SFW department. Who I am today is largely attributable to my friends I made during my studies and my professors. Taking the opportunity, I’d like to express my gratitude to all my classmates and professors for their priceless assistance, support, and motivation.


AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

Shamsiya Rakhimshoeva, European Studies 2013 What is the most interesting thing that you remember about being an AUCA student? AUCA is a place that has left a special spot in my heart with tones of amazing memories and lifelong lessons. I could never forget my orientation week where, I missed the first two days and arrived on the third day and had to join my group right from the airport with a huge suitcase. Everything around me looked sophisticated, bright, dynamic, and chaotic. In one word it felt like a madhouse but in a good sense. Secondly, I guess everyone remembers and loves diversity week where the whole milieu of the university is filled with splendid music, dances, amazing food, and of course people. I was representing the German Delegation in my final year. It was an

absolutely amazing experience, because the preparation process brought together all the European Studies students and we had to dress in German clothes, prepare food from the German Cuisine together, and sell it during the food day!!! Tell us about your career path. I believe I am one of those people who love to try themselves in different areas and be very flexible. At school my favorite classes were math and physics and I wanted to study business administration or economics. I was applying also to other schools and I heard about the European Studies department which I had no idea what was it about. When I realized that we would study about how the EU works, learn several foreign languages, and travel to Europe my inner voice spoke up and said that this is what you need now! There were many moments during my university years that I had doubts about what I was studying but now I don’t regret it at all. During my four dynamic years at the ES department,

Alumni Spotlight

I got an opportunity to learn German and Spanish, participate in a number of conferences and summer schools in Central Asia and Europe, and do internships at international organizations. After graduating AUCA, I enrolled at Central European University in Budapest to complete my MA in International Relations and European Studies. I have completed all my academic courses but currently I am in process of submitting my thesis paper. I believe each one of us have encountered challenges once we graduate and enter the job market- I was not an exception. After coming back from Budapest, I tried to find a job in Kyrgyzstan and I actually got a job related to my specialization at the Afghan Embassy. Simultaneously, I was also applying for jobs in Tajikistan. After an interview and application process, I declined my job offer in Kyrgyzstan and flew back home. My first official job in Tajikistan is with United World, which is a British communications agency specializing in country reports. The agency has published reports on more than 120 countries and has been in the market for over 20 years. Though I have been travelling and studying in different parts of the world, my knowledge about my own country was very limited. “Bingo”- I get the most wonderful opportunity to explore my country first hand. Our main goal is to take interviews of leaders from the public and private sectors and accumulate a report that will be published on “Navruz” as a special edition in USA-Today that will be distributed in New York and Washington, DC. Currently, I am also working as a part time analyst at the International Finance Corporation in the ‘Central Asian Corporate Governance Project’, which is aimed at improving and employing corporate governance strategies in the private sector. Both of my jobs are related to improving the economic environment of Tajikistan and attracting investment to the country. I see a big future for Tajikistan and it is taking all the necessary steps in this direction. To demonstrate, Tajikistan has been listed in the top ten countries for improving their policies in terms of doing business according to the World Bank report. There is a long way to go, but with small paces, it is getting there. Favorite thing about your job? My favorite aspect in my job with UW is meeting inspirational people from the public and private sectors and hearing their side of the story. It is one thing to read in a magazine or newspaper about a minister or a business leader, but completely different when you have chances to meet these people in person and ask questions and simultaneously build networks. Similar points I can recall from my involvement with IFC. The atmosphere, employees, and the work that we are involved in are aimed at

enhancing the wellbeing of the country and this is already giving me motivation to work harder and make my small contribution to the big world. You have rich international experience, having studied and worked abroad. Why have you returned to Tajikistan? To be honest, it was not my first choice to come back to Tajikistan. After returning from Budapest, I went through several surgeries. It was really tough, but I guess my stubborn character has empowered me to move forward. After receiving a job offer in Tajikistan, I declined my job in Kyrgyzstan and came here. After being almost half a year in Tajikistan, without hesitation I can say that my return was the best decision. For all the Tajik AUCA alumni I can say that if you have appropriate skills, knowledge, and expertise you should not doubt to come back to Tajikistan because there are vast opportunities in the labor market for ambitious and talented young specialists. The chances to build a prosperous career in Tajikistan are much higher than in Europe or USA. I tell this from my personal experience, because there are hundreds if not thousands of highly qualified specialists in Europe or the USA but there are not many in Tajikistan. Sooner or later most of us will come back to Tajikistan, and it is more efficient to realize ourselves and our plans now rather than in 10 or 20 years when the market will be already captured and it will be harder to enter the competition. Finally, if each and every one of us will leave the country, than we can’t blame others for the backwardness of our own country. Yes, there are a lot of challenges in Tajikistan but they are everywhere. Happiest/proudest moment of your life? It is difficult to recall one moment in my life because there were many. I believe hearing on graduation day that I was the only student from my department graduating with honors was a pretty happy moment. What are some tips that you would like to share with current AUCA students? I think you should value every moment of your life at AUCA and take as much as possible. Participate in conferences, trainings, and take the courses that you believe will help in your future. One very important advice that would be an absolute asset for everyone, is start doing internships as soon as possible and start networking. This is true because you wont get lost once you leave the doors of the AUCA and encounter the big world. What do you miss the most about AUCA?

friends, and “samsi’s” on the third floor☺!!! Your message to fellow classmates, alumni and professors For students I wish hard work and courage to overcome all the challenges!!! I would like to say special thanks to all my professors who have been very supportive during all these years at AUCA and wish them first of all good health, tolerance, and new achievement. I also want to specially thank my professor Dr. Markus Kaiser who has been supportive during my MA year in Budapest and now, and all other professors with whom I am keeping warm relations even after graduation.

Maksad Donayorov, Software Engineering 2013 What is the most interesting thing that you remember about being AUCA student? It’s a bit hard to state a specific interesting entity that I remember about AUCA, since there were many of them, but relying on the memories and happy times I could say that it was the initiation ceremony I participated in during my freshman year. The highlights are the people who were involved in that event and made it unforgettable. Tell us about your career path? Taking into consideration my academic life at AUCA, my career path started in December 2009 when I started to work as a waiter in International Restaurant L’Azzurro. Unlike the other students from Tajikistan, who had financial support, I needed to work to cover my living expenses. After six months of experience as a waiter I was finally appointed the host manager and subsequently the administrator of the aforementioned restaurant, in addition to the Café Eldon owned by the same owner. Despite the fact that I was studying software engineering, I took three years to be involved in the restaurant business. When applying to software engineering I was not sure that it was the right direction for me, thus I tried different positions in various companies later on. After the restaurant I got a job as a PR manager and web developer at Decor-Profi Company, holding that position for about a year.

I miss the atmosphere, professors, my AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


Alumni Spotlight

computer science and continue working in Fast Monkeys, despite the desire of entrepreneurship in my motherland. Happiest/proudest moment of your life? Happiest moments were the first time I arrived to Bishkek and started to explore Kyrgyzstan. Specifically, orientation week was the most memorable and happy moment in AUCA life. What are some tips that you would like to share with current AUCA students? There is no special tip that I may share with current AUCA student, but I would rather recommend a bestselling book by Josh Kaufman called The First 20 Hours. How to Learn Anything... Fast!, which can be significant for any student. The main reason to endorse the mentioned book is that it is simple and has an ordinary pattern to guide the reader, while keeping focus on the significant issues to be solved. What do you miss the most about AUCA? There are lots of things that I miss about AUCA, but keeping it in the frame of academic life are conversations with professor Lance Tillman. He is one of the professors who impacted my critical thinking and always had answers to my questions that most professors would just skip. After graduation I was still on my journey of finding the right job as well as a direction that I could spend lifetime on. Consequently, I accepted the offer from the general director of Decor-Profi Company to be a Chief Executive Office of the company’s new branch in Astana. That step was a critical for me, since it would diversify my experience in the field in which I graduated. Spending one year in Astana, I developed my organization management skills as well learning more about the internal structure of how a company works, in addition to the goods import-export process and price policies in the market. Holding the CEO position for almost a year, I decided that it’s not for me and I would like to return to a software engineering environment. Therefore, I applied for a web developer position in Fast Monkeys Company in Espoo, Finland, that I found through the AIESEC global organization’s platform. Currently, I am working as a full-stack developer at Fast Monkeys and can state that it is the job that I was looking a long time for. Favorite thing about your job? My current job is full of surprises and wonderful people who are willing to help


AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015

and teach anytime there is a need. The company that I am working in has a wellelaborated structure and policies for its employees; mainly the freedom of speech, participation, and flexibility. Since software engineering is about cognitive ability, constant thinking, and a sharp focus creating a working atmosphere is significant and Fast Monkeys does it noticeably. Precisely, when it comes to traditional approach of management. The illustration can be argued by the idea that small things make big changes. To demonstrate, Fast Monkeys administration pay specific attention to small details such as that an employee can enjoy video games during work or do other chill things. Do you plan to go back to your motherland and contribute to its development? Why is it important for you? Since my motherland – Tajikistan - is a new developing country it needs experts in almost all areas, and information technology is one of them. My contribution on its development can be meaningful after being fully qualified in the mentioned area. In fact, my short-term plan is to apply for a master degree in

What are the most important things you liked about AUCA? The diversity and freedom. Your message to fellow classmates, alumni and professors I would like to wish great luck for fellow classmates, and confess that I miss alumni with whom I studied. Finally, to express my gratitude to all professors who contributed and facilitated me during my academic life. Specifically, FuMing, who played a significant role in my web development career; Dr. Karim Zehouni, a professor who taught us to combine theinformation technology and business worlds with the new approach of teaching, by motivating and guiding; professor Lance Tillman, who was always ready to help and spend his valuable time on advice and instructions; professor Makhinur Mamatova, who enlarged my knowledge and enhanced my interest about psychology with her unique approach to teaching; Dr. Skliar Sergey Nikolaevich for his patience in terms of teaching complex mathematical subjects; as well the entire software engineering department for supporting and instructing me during my education at AUCA.

Alumni Spotlight

Rayhon Jonbekova, Journalism and Mass Communication, 2010 Tell us about your career path? After graduating from AUCA, I started working in the development field. I used to work with Aga Khan Foundation in USA, with World Bank in Tajikistan, and UNDP Tajikistan as a consultant for communication. Since 2012 I have been working with the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme (MSDSP), a project of Aga Khan Foundation in Tajikistan, as a Grants Manager. Favorite thing about your job? Our organization works in all four regions of Tajikistan, covering about 1.5 million people, implementing rural development projects. The work is challenging - in which I see opportunity for self-development - and it requires lots of travelling - which I adore. You have rich international experience, having studied and work abroad. Why have you returned to Tajikistan?

The international experience and studying gave me great knowledge and skills and I will continue building my knowledge and skills abroad, but ‘Home Sweet Home’. The aim of the international studies and travels for me is to build my capacity and contribute to improvement of the quality of life in Tajikistan. Happiest/proudest moment of your life? There are plenty of them, but currently I am proud to manage more than 30 grants which are benefiting rural people. It really feels good when one can make positive change in someone else’s life. What are some tips that you would like to share with current AUCA students? AUCA is a home for democracy, freedom of speech, pluralism and diversity, opportunities and knowledge. Take the full knowledge that AUCA offers. That knowledge will help you to see how wonderful life is and how many opportunities it offers. Overall, take every opportunity and positive benefit from AUCA back to your countries. What do you miss the most about AUCA? In AUCA I learned about the principles of democracy such as freedom of speech, human rights, lack of black and white corruption, and simply a just environment; which are limited in some societies. But I hope that this is a matter of time and,

sooner or later, young leaders including AUCA ‘products’ will contribute to democratization of our societies. This is last but not least of what I miss about AUCA. I surely also miss discussions and talks with AUCA friends, course mates, and professors around a cup of coffee and ‘sambusashki’ in the cafeteria. What are the most important things you liked about AUCA? I liked the education system, which is very powerful and efficient. Thanks to AUCA education, I was able to succeed in my career at a senior management level early in life. The principles of freedom and democracy where each and every single student’s voice matter was another key point I liked about AUCA. Your message to fellow classmates, alumni, and professors? My message to classmates, alumni, and professors is that wherever we are in the world, we should not forget about the immense positive contribution of AUCA to our personal and professional lives. Therefore, we should try to support AUCA and its new students in everything we can to keep the University as the best in the region.

AUCA Magazine | Summer 2015


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