Central Asian Student Leaders Implement Local and International Civic Engagement Initiatives
SIDP and ACEP were developed in the framework of the Trustee Leader Scholar program at Bard College, another OSUN partner institution, and went full-time in 2017 and 2021, respectively. The aim of both programs is to develop leadership potential and professional skills among students, supporting them in the implementation of their civic engagement initiatives through consultation, individual mentorship, training, and workshops. While SIDP is devoted to developing civic engagement culture and increasing the sense of agency among all AUCA students, ACEP focuses specifically on the Afghan community within the university.
Despite challenges the pandemic created, AUCA students have demonstrated great enthusiasm in realizing projects for the public good on both the local and international levels. Out of 25 projects, 11 initiatives are international (i.e., Afghanistan and Tajikistan). In 2021, the “Girls in STEM” project led by a student from Afghanistan helped to remove barriers against young Afghan women accessing college and thriving in STEM fields in Kabul.
Since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, Afghan students have started new projects in Kyrgyzstan with the help of local students, contributing to the development of peer to peer learning. For example, the "Leadership Empowerment and English Advancement Program (LEEAP)" project led by Hawa Taban focuses on preparing Kyrgyzstani high school students for higher education and will be implemented during Winter 2022 in Osh city.
Importantly, most of the student projects were sustainable and were transferred from project founders to other active student leaders. During the fall of 2021, the “Basketball for All” project founded by Aidin Turganbekov and the “Central Asian Nomad Youth” project founded by Nurmukhamad Turkbaev continued under the leadership of new coordinators–Saliya Khurova and Erkebai Bakhadinov, respectively. The first project aims to develop an inclusive space for children with autism and with Down Syndrome through weekly basketball practices, while the second seeks to empower young people living in conflict zones (i.e., borderlands) with workshops on civic engagement, educational opportunities, and career prospects.
As these projects show, OSUN partners at AUCA strongly support both the continuation of successful civic engagement initiatives and the conception of novel initiatives by new student leaders.
Post Date: 01-04-2022