“How did the Kazakh nomads of Central Asia settle conflicts within their families and villages?” Dr. Ron Wiley, with his wife Jeanine, made repeated trips to the region in the years of his doctoral studies, to study this question and to share his findings. Presentations at universities in three of the five Central Asian countries in 2018 and 2019 opened doors for Ron and Jeanine to move back to Almaty, Kazakhstan last November, as Regional Directors for REI. Besides serving as adjunct professor in the law & international relations department of the Kazakh-American Free University, Ron travels the region lecturing at universities and presenting at conferences on elements of conflict resolution theory and practice, and Ron and Jeanine together offer training and mentoring in restorative conflict resolution practices, particularly for schools. They hope to support civil society and nongovernment organizations, as well as individual entrepreneurs with conflict resolution and communications skills training.
While representing REI and networking with leading professionals trained and mentored over the past 25 years by REI staff serving in Central Asia, Ron and Jeanine have found that the REI investment in the people of the region is fondly remembered. There is enthusiasm at REI’s return to work in Central Asia and to continue that process of “building people to build nations” begun so many years ago. But above all, Ron and Jeanine anticipate openings in all the five countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan to REI resident and short-term staff who would make their own professional contribution going forward. “Invitations are coming in right and left, for English education professionals, IT educators, project management professionals, and more...all with the idea of training the trainers, so that Central Asians can lead in the process of developing their own nations”, report the Wileys.
Another thing that has made Ron and Jeanine’s return so richly rewarding, is the chance to relate more directly with those they were mentoring 15, 20, even 25 years ago. “Many of those whom we first knew as high school and university students are now parenting their own 18- to 25-year-olds,” Ron reflects, “and they’re also managing and training staff in their own companies, or in the departments they direct. On both a professional and a personal level, they are asking us to come alongside once again, to invest in the future of their families and nations. What REI brings...professional help and personal hope...is exactly what is needed on the ground here among the nations and peoples of Central Asia!”
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