Uzbekistan: Perceptions and Expectations

About two weeks ago I was asked if I wanted to take part in a Summer School in Uzbekistan, with no hesitation, I said yes. It was only a few days later I started to do some research on the country, as I realised I knew nothing about it, except that it was in Central Asia. This blog contains some of the information I found.

The Republic of Uzbekistan is a presidential constitutional republic, prior to this the country spent most of the past 200 years as part of Russia and the Soviet Union. One year after President Islam Karimov came into power, Uzbekistan’s independence was declared in 1991. Since Karimov becoming president, Uzbekistan has seen steady economic growth as a result of it’s  key exports including, cotton, gas and gold. The country is the leading cotton grower and natural gas producer in Central Asia, along with this and the countries strategic location, it is becoming attractive for other countries and has seen the West and Russia move towards making closer ties to Uzbekistan, despite some international organisations condemning the nations human rights record. The country is the most densely populated in Central Asia, with diverse ethnic groups and the majority identifying as Uzbek. Along with this, Uzbekistan also has the largest armed forces in Central Asia. The diversity of Uzbekistan is something I look forward to learning more about, along with the countries history and culture, as this is something I have little prior knowledge about. Travelling within Uzbekistan while on this trip, to cities such as Samarkand and Bukhara is also a great way for me to broaden my understanding of the country and experience their traditions.

samarkand-guide-registan

One of the main focus’ of this trip to Uzbekistan is to further both the academic and student relationships between the Westminster International University in Tashkent and the University of Westminster, along with gaining a better understanding of globalisation and interconnectedness with specific attention on Uzbekistan and their position in the economic and political global arena. With this trip being focused on globalisation it is not only relevant but important for us to visit Uzbekistan as Asia’s role on the international stage becomes increasingly significant.

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Throughout university so far, much of my work has focused around the Middle East, so I am particularly excited to be visiting a country with close links both geographically and economically to the region. Coming from a Western education system, I am intrigued to meet new people from a different culture and listen to new perspectives that I might have not previously considered, from this I believe that we will all be able to learn something new from each other, to help broaden our continued studies. The workshops and lectures that are being held are likely to teach me more about globalisation, as well as the politics, economy, history and culture in Uzbekistan than I already know, as I have never previously been made aware of Uzbekistan’s position both domestically and globally, something I am looking forward to increasing my knowledge of. Although I have been lucky enough to travel, I have never experienced teaching in another country, other than the UK and therefore am excited to experience new perspectives and topics that I have perhaps not come across, this is why it is important to me that I travel and meet new people who challenge and make me questions my own views and perceptions of the world.

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