Our trip to New York City between April 30th – May 9th has been marked by many notable events. The main purpose of my trip was participation at the ASN Annual World Convention which was organized by the Association for the Study of Nationalities at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University. There I presented my paper which is a part of my Master thesis: “Implementation of the World Bank Projects in Kazakhstan”. The papers presented by my groupmates include “Explaining ethnic conflict prevention mechanism in Kazakhstan” (Madina Bizhanova), “The Politics of Jury Trials in Kazakhstan” (Slyamzhar Akhmetzharov). While applying to this conference, I was thinking that it would be a great starting experience for young researchers. In fact, my expectations were met.
I have also attended several panels during the 3-days Convention, which focused on a wide area of issues which are of scholarly interest in the Eurasian region, such as nation-building, regime dynamics, political conflicts, education, gender issues, and so on. Moreover, there have also been book panels, as well as the presentation of various documentaries.
Next, I and a couple of my classmates also had an opportunity to present our works on the Graduate Student Workshop on Public Policy in Kazakhstan. The workshop took place at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University.
At the same time, the trip was not limited to only academic events. Besides participating in the conference at Columbia University and meeting with the faculty at the Harriman Institute, we also visited Fordham University where we met with Professor Olena Nikolayenko and students majoring in Political Science and International Studies. We had a chance to hold “Youth Culture in Kazakhstan” Seminar, during which we talked about the current interests of youth in Kazakhstan, introduced our education system with its peculiar opportunities, Kazakhstani student associations abroad, etc.
In addition, we also had a great opportunity to visit the office of the Open Society Foundations (Soros Foundation). We met with Mr. Michael Hall, Senior Policy Analyst at Open Society Eurasia Program, with whom we shared our research interests. We learned more about the activities of Open Society Foundations and, in particular, research opportunities at Open Society Eurasia Program.
The weather in New York City is rapidly changing. On one of the “raining cats and dogs” days, we walked to the United Nations headquarters. Our anger with wet clothes was instantly replaced by the excitement of staying at one of the world’s most important buildings and, in particular, seeing the halls of the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly.
In the long line of learning, there is always a competition with yourself. Participation in such an event undoubtedly contributed to my educational and professional growth by detecting my strong and weak spots. Bearing this in mind, I would like to encourage everyone interested in pursuing academic goals to apply.
It was a truly unforgettable experience to meet at the conference with the scholars such as Henry Hale, Alexander Cooley, and many others, whose books and articles we have covered during our university studies. In the same way, getting in touch at the conference with the fellow international peers who are doing their Ph.D. and Master programs in various fields enabled us to establish useful links for future collaboration in doing similar research.
This trip was definitely filled with meaningful events and positive impressions. During the week of our stay in one of the world’s most exciting, dynamic, and beautiful cities, we had a chance to interact with highly experienced and accomplished academics and political scientists from all around the world. I also had my first serious experience of presenting my research at the academic conference which is a good solid start in pursuing my future professional goals. I am grateful to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Nazarbayev University for assisting us with funding this trip and, in particular, to our program director Alexei Trochev, for helping us and organizing a number of the above-mentioned events for us.
Prepared by Botagoz Kunedilova