KARAKUM SCHOLARS ROUNDTABLE
A yearly conference held each spring at a select Eurasian university, the Karakum Scholars Roundtable (KSRT) is a unique and unprecedented opportunity for Turkmen undergraduates to come together in a neutral environment and discuss what it means to be part of a Turkmen community today. Focused around questions of community service, active social engagement, and development project management, the KSRT is also seen as a chance for its participants to strengthen their own communal ties and develop professional networks.
Initiated in 2009, the KSRT Program has grown significantly over the past three years.
The First Annual Karakum Scholars Roundtable was held in March 2010 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and brought together 15 undergraduate students from Turkmenistan studying at various universities in Kyrgyzstan. Subsequent conferences have been held in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria (2011) and St. Petersburg, Russia (2012). Each year, we have been increasingly impressed by the high level of interest, dedication, and energy brought by KSRT participants to the conference’s three day program of trainings, discussions, and guest lectures.
Following each KSRT conference, participants elect a committee of their peers and work with this four-member team to develop a small-scale development project targeting an important need in their own “community,” either in Turkmenistan or abroad. This makes the KSRT’s discussions of “community” and “active service” more than just a series of theoretical arguments – and in fact something of a reality. From brainstorming to proposal development, and from funding to project evaluation, the KSRT Program works with conference participants to bring their ideas to fruition and make their vision a success.
Past KSRT conference participants are encouraged to continue their involvement with the program through the planning, implementation, and evaluation of community service projects. KSRT program alumni are eligible to apply to the Arzuw Foundation for funding, which is provided on a rolling and competitive basis.
The Fourth Annual KSRT conference is planned for April 2013.
While planning is only just underway, it is hoped that an impressive and
remarkable contingent of undergraduate students from Turkmenistan will once
again take part and make the conference just as successful as its
predecessors. For more information about the Arzuw Foundation’s KSRT
Program or KSRT IV, please contact Isaac Scarborough, KSRT Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.