Aizat Jakybalieva ’07
Naryan, Kyrgyzstan/Seguin, TX
shoolakg [at] gmail [dot] com
I’m very much delighted to tell the story of alumni in Kyrgyzstan. But first, I would like to express our appreciation to the US Department of State and all the partner organizations working on exchange programs for the great opportunity to be educated in the US. This is not just an experience on self development and personal growth, but also opportunity to use all the knowledge and skills learned for the development of our countries and even the world as alumni. Each exchange program is unique with it own ideas. It is also unique to have alumni communities. What would be the reason of going to US, if nothing is done on return – not to the programs directly, but to our own community. This is the reason we have these exchange programs. In this turn, Kyrgyzstan alumni are not exceptions, we are also part of this alumni community, which wants to bring changes.
Overall, Kyrgyzstan has more than three thousand alumni of more than fifteen different programs. Certainly, this number is a huge resource to accomplish many great things. With such great intentions, in January 2010 alumni of different US State Department sponsored programs created an initiative group as one of the first steps in the creation of the Kyrgyzstan Alumni Association. There are many alumni from different programs with various backgrounds, working in different fields, spheres and it is hard to get them together to involve them in alumni activities and joint projects, because they do not know each other. Thus the initiative group believed that by creating such a unit and space, diverse alumni would be able to get connected and work on joint projects, which can reach the broader community throughout Kyrgyzstan.
As an initiative group, alumni were able to conduct several projects around Kyrgyzstan mostly aimed in support of victims of events, which happened in Kyrgyzstan in April and June of 2010. We also worked on conflict resolution processes through different activities. After a while, alumni decided to establish the Kyrgyzstan Alumni Association, officially registering it in February 2011 as Alumni Association of Exchange Programs for Country Development. The mission was defined as giving support to an ongoing relationship among alumni of US State Department exchange programs through effective communications and meaningful experience in order to generate multifaceted support for goals of the programs and the development of our society. We work on professional development, alumni community strengthening, and various social, charity, educational and business projects.
Since its establishment the Alumni Association was able to implement several social, professional development and community oriented projects, created its own website (www.alumni.org.kg) and several issues of its Newspaper “Alumnik.” The association has its own structure with the administrative body, advisory board and working groups, which are represented by alumni from each program. Proudly, I would like to mention that main initiators and organizers of Alumni Association and its activities are FLEX alumni regardless of being the youngest among other programs.
Certainly, all the work being done by alumni in the Association is done on a voluntary basis. Each of us has a job, some have families, children, other responsibilities, but regardless of these facts, alumni are able to manage and offer some of their time to the association. Within the association we have divided responsibilities according the fields of work each alumnus/a has chosen to work on. Also, we have agreed on times for meetings, which are convenient for each alumni. Social networks such as Facebook, google group, alumni website forum etc. are great tools in sharing information. Certainly, in the beginning there are various obstacles, especially in gathering alumni all together and keeping them motivated. There might be some misunderstandings, mistakes, but this is what keeps an organization moving forward; we learn from mistakes, we try to make things better. The most important part in all of this is dedication, motivation and belief; as long as alumni are committed and believe in bringing changes and have a willingness to act, the work of the alumni association and alumni spirit is always on track. One of the important mottos of my life that I will carry with me forever is the belief that I can make a difference, that I do have the power to change things for the better.
What is ahead one may ask? We answer, “many positive accomplishments, changes in making our country and the world a better place for everyone.” You just need to get this thing started! With the warmest wishes to our Great FLEX Alumni Community!