First Day in Bishkek
When I walked out of customs at the Manas Airport in Bishkek at 5:30ish in the morning, I expected to be greeted by East West Management Institute’s driver holding up a sign with my name on it. I did a quick scan. No sign with “Ajinur Setiwaldi” or "Айинур Сетиwалди” on it. But before I could panic, a young man walked up and said my name. Beksultan, the admin assistant, for EWMI- Bishkek recognized me from my photo on the W&M Law School website. The driver was outside. A cellphone with necessary contacts already in it waited for me in the car. Beksultan took me to the supermarket to pick up water and fruit before showing me to the apartment where I would rest until they relocated me to a closer apartment in the afternoon. Needless to say, I’m thoroughly impressed by East West Management Institute’s efficiency and treatment of their new intern.
I joined Beksultan and his friends for dinner at Sierra - a cafe with an English speaking clientele. Most of Beksultan’s friends are current or former European Studies students at the American University in Bishkek. When I go for the Greek salad, I am obliged to explain my vegetarianism. I’m told I’m going to miss out on a lot of traditional cuisine, but I think I'll survive. We spend the next few hours discussing horse-riding, Turkish shows about Ottoman emperors, and Donald Trump’s rise among other topics.
The Kyrgyz in Bishkek speak mainly in Russian and sometimes switch to Kyrgyz for less formal conversation. My Russian vocabulary before arriving in Kyrgyzstan included zdrastvuyte (hello), prevyiet (hi), spasiba (thanks), and da svidaniya (good bye). And it hadn’t improved by the end of my first day in Bishkek. As for Kyrgyz, I seem to understand most of what I've heard so far, but unfortunantly my speaking abilitites are rather limited. Kyrgyz shares roots with my native langauge (Uyghur) and my third langauge (Turkish); they are all Turkic langauges seperated by geography and time.
First Day at Work
My work day is from 9 a.m to 6 p.m. The EWMI office is a 10 minute walk from my new apartment. And I have no trouble finding it because the red roof of the Touristan Hotel adjacent to EMWI serves as a outstanding landmark. Ulana, Operations Manager for EWMI, greeted me, showed me around the office and introduced me to the staff before showing me to my desk. There was a vase filled with fresh peonies from the office garden on my desk. Needless to say,the start of my first day of work was quite pleasant.
Mark Grubb, the chief of party at EMWI, is visiting Virginia until mid-June, but the rest of the team greeted me with warm welcomes and told me to come to them if I had any questions or needed anything. I'm really excited to be workign with this great team.
Beksultan created a schedule to orient me to the Comparative Governance Program’s six components. I read various reports, laws and surveys in between meetings to get a better understanding of civil society, government and EMWI in Kyrgyzstan.
All of the staff except for the two drivers and the wonderful cleaning lady are proficient in English. So orientation went smoother than I had anticipated.
Collaborative Governance Management – Ruslan Moldokasymov is CGP’s senior program officer. CGP seeks to “foster effective collaboration between civil society, private business leaders and the government of the Kyrgyz Republic” in order to promote a transparent and accountable government and a credible and sustainable civil society. Ruslan communicates and collaborates with various representatives from government, civil society and international organizations to implement CGP’s mission. Currently, this means that CGP supports the Ministry of Social Development and the new draft law on social procurement, supports the new draft law on charitable organizations and activities, and promotes cooperation between government and civil society.
Ulana Ashimova manages operations. She’s the one who helped me get the necessary documents for my visa application, find an apartment and organized the efficient welcome at the airport. She’s was my go to person when I had any questions or concerns before arriving in Bishkek and I’m really grateful for her help.
Grants Admin Unit
Guljan Asanbaeva and Meergul Sulaimanova are the GMU. They handle the many grants that EWMI provides to various civil society organizations and projects in Kyrgyzstan.
Begaiym Tolongutova and Aigul Kentjetaeva are in charge of capacity building. They compile profiles of the civil society orgs EWMI works with, access those organizations and prepare diagnostic reports. The Capacity Building team works to strengthen the capacity and sustainability of NGOs by providing them with training on budgeting, public relations, grant proposal writing…etc.
Baktygul Ismailova and Salima Serkibaeva work to strengthen nonprofit management education in Kyrgyzstan. So far 11 universities in Kyrgyzstan offer elective NPM courses. And there are 4 (to be 5 soon) NPM resource centers in Kyrgyzstan. The one nearest to the office is the NPM Resource Center at the Kyrgyz National University. EWMI supports the NPM Educators Association and is recently working with professors to publish a textbook on NPM in both Kyrgyz and Russian.
Fatima Kasmahunova is EMWI’s public outreach specialist. She works with all of the other components, CSOs and other partners to communicate news of projects, events, and progress to USAID headquarters, to the EMWI office, to partners, government, the public and other stakeholders. She’s also constantly updating CGP’s Facebook page. If you’re interested in CGP’s work, please like our FB here.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Nurgul Alybaeva monitors and evaluates all of CGP’s activities. She showed me several comprehensive spreadsheets detailing CGP’s activities and the expectations and outcomes for each activity. She’s also the gender officer for CGP and keeps track of gender related activities CGP may be interested in supporting.