Heading to Bishkek

Welcome to my summer blog! Thank you for following my trip and internship. For the next eleven weeks I will be in the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, interning with a non-profit.

I’ll begin with why I chose to make this trip. When I heard that there were opportunities to go abroad after 1L year, immediately I began thinking of ways to justify traveling instead of finding a traditional internship. With some guidance from Professor Warren (Director of the Program in Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding at William & Mary), I chose to apply for several positions and was ultimately chosen for a post with East-West Management Institute in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. If you, like me prior to applying for this position, do not know the location of Bishkek, it is in Central Asia, west of China, east of Uzbekistan, and south of Kazakhstan. Despite my ignorance, I soon came to learn that Kyrgyzstan is absolutely worth a summer of my life. It is a former Soviet Union country, recognized as an independent state in 1991, with significant political turmoil. It is considered the “most democratic” state in the region but it is also the poorest. Over 90% of the country is above 1000 meters in elevation, and only about 30% is suitable for living year-round. The more I learned, the more the potential challenge and adventure piqued my interest. 

I began my work in the spring with a few meetings (in person, via Skype, and over e-mail) and as much preparation as possible with my limited knowledge. I will be working for East-West Management Institute (EWMI), a non-profit based out of New York with offices in eight countries. The project in Bishkek is funded primarily by USAID. It started in 2013 and will end in 2018. It is called the Collaborative Governance Program. There are three components, each with goals and dedicated workers. Component A involves social procurement. EWMI is working closely with another non-profit organization, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, to develop legislation that replaces the current legislation on non-profit organizations and enables the government to utilize resources for social benefits. Component B involves education. EWMI is working with the national university in Bishkek to create a minor in non-profit management and is developing several other educational opportunities for those working in the non-profit industry. Component C involves civil society organizations and will empower local organizations to successfully carry out their goals in Kyrgyzstan.

The Chief of Party on the project is named Mark Grubb, and he will be the only native English speaker in the office of fourteen people. The official languages are Russian and Kyrgyz. I've been practicing a few Russian phrases, but I expect I will need quite a bit of help figuring out the city at first.

I look forward to working with locals to help make progress on the project. I will work on Component B when I first arrive, but I know very little beyond that. 

When I arrive and start work I'll post an update. For now, goodbye America!

East-West Management Institute website: