Central Asia’s Silk Road—far beyond historic notions of camel caravans lumbering across desert sands—is alive with possibility and opportunity as the crossroads of Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The five republics of Central Asia that emerged from the former Soviet Union are eager to host a new Silk Road of commerce and peaceful development.
REI relaunched in the countries of Central Asia in late 2019, after a brief hiatus. Building on a legacy of REI investment in “building people to build nations” since 1992 in this region, REI’s regional leaders began to expand the work and build the REI team in Kazakhstan, working with universities and schools to bring important training and coaching.
With borders stretching from Russia to China to the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan is the world’s 9th largest country. Its economy and global influence are growing, but large areas remain underdeveloped. REI is making an impact here through a new partnership with ENACTUS Kazakhstan, an organization that teaches social entrepreneurship to young people.
ENACTUS stands for ENtrepreneurial ACTion and US; it’s a network of organizations in 33 countries on six continents. Through ENACTUS, student teams develop entrepreneurial projects that create Prosperity while benefiting People and the Planet. Across all of Kazakhstan’s 17 regions, ENACTUS teams are active in 45 universities, 20 colleges and 74 high schools, involving well over 1,000 students. Each year, Kazakhstan’s teams present their projects before expert judging panels in a spirited, national competition.
While the pandemic separated people from each other all over the world, in one way it has been bringing people of different cultures together in Kazakhstan through the When Cultures Meet® workshop. While sequestered in COVID lockdown, Ron and I received a phone call from an old college friend who offered to help in any way she could in our developing work in Kazakhstan. An experienced, well-traveled cross-cultural, organizational development consultant and trainer, Dr. Susan Stewart volunteered her services to train us and other trainers in organizational development through When Cultures Meet (WCM).
A year later, in October 2021, we were trained and certified to partner with Susan who then joined us in Kazakhstan as a REI short-term professional to present When Cultures Meet at universities in two different cities to students and faculty alike.