This four-week summer practicum program in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, offers intellectually adventurous students the opportunity to explore a fascinating country at the crossroads of powerful historical, political, economic, and cultural forces. The program combines unique exposure to and interactions with key government, civil society, and international development partners in Kyrgyzstan with an overarching seminar-style course and cultural excursions.
The Development and Social Change Practicum consists of two major components: a practicum and a seminar. Students gain firsthand exposure to key development stakeholders—local as well as international—in the region. The modular coursework offers an interdisciplinary scaffolding for critical reflection and thoughtful analysis. The course readings provide a theoretical and methodological foundation for the participants to delve into the connections between theory and the work of NGOs and policy organizations in Kyrgyzstan’s dynamic multiethnic society.
North American students enroll in this practicum alongside AUCA students, creating a rich environment for diverse viewpoint and cross-cultural perspectives on global issues. Topics for course readings and group projects include citizenship participation in the post-Soviet state, human rights, development and the role of NGOs in new democracies, the effect of globalization in Central Asia, and more. Thought leaders in the NGO and policy communities will also visit the group to bring local perspectives to the discussion. The course develops critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills as well as an understanding of the dynamic forces at work in this complex region.
Students who have not studied Russian will be offered a survival Russian course at the beginning of the program. Optional Russian, Kyrgyz, or other regional language study is available for an additional fee.
Through weekly cultural programs, students will have the opportunity to explore the fascinating history and culture of Kyrgyzstan and its role in great global movements throughout history. Beginning with the Silk Road and moving through the “Great Game” and the country’s post-Soviet experience, students gain an understanding of Kyrgyzstan as it is today—a complex multicultural and multiethnic country.
Sample excursions and activities include:
• A trip to Lake Issyk-Kul, a spectacular alpine lake in the Tian Shan mountain range, where students can see petroglyphs from the Turkic era and go swimming • A visit with nomadic sheepherders in a yurt village • Expeditions to sites of traditional falconry, folklore, and games on horseback