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Creating a Better Future in Central Asia

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Creating a Better Future for Students in Central Asia

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by Vladimir Samsonov

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Today leadership is one of the most critical determining factors that will impact what the 21st century will look like. On July 31-August 2, 2016, thirty-two students of Korean descent from three different countries, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, participated in a life changing leadership program, the “Center for Asia Leadership – Korea Development Leadership Program,” hosted at Handong Global University, South Korea.

During the last week of a six-week program (participants learned the Korean language and culture during the first five weeks), participants identified many problems of today’s society, such as discrimination, poverty, terrorism, kidnapping and so on. For the individuals who came from Post-Soviet Union countries and from Korean ethnic backgrounds – it was a powerful motivation for students to make Central Asia a better and more comfortable place to live in. It was truly an eye-opening and unique experience as programs on leadership are a rarity in schools in Central Asia. Students had the opportunity to work in groups on a specific problem to find a solution that is simple and affordable for everyone. Afterward, students had to present their solution.

The program trained students to think outside the box. Lisa Lee, teaching fellow from Harvard who led the design thinking simulation – led activities that brought them out of their comfort zone. Students gained problem-solving skills as they engaged in the process of solving the challenges and problems that people face everyday. Panche Kralev, a former Minister of Education from the country of Macedonia, taught a workshop on entrepreneurship, guiding students on creating a business model and making a pitch. Randy Tarnowski, another teaching fellow from Harvard, taught “Leadership Communications: Mobilizing for Change,” in which students learned principles of effective communications and participated in a speech competition.

Although it was just a five days’ program, it was enough to learn about the many aspects of leadership. Students had the opportunity to practice their public speaking skills, improve their creativity to solve the problems, understand cultural differences, and learn how to implement their skills in the modern world where leadership is needed. We hope that through the difference made in students’ life in this short time, a change will continue to help them be a good person equipped to create a better future.

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