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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 have recruited country leaders to help re-open Uzbekistan and help open and start up a new university—the Samarkand International University of Technology.

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You may recall that Samarkand was on the travel bucket list of George Bailey, hero of the film It’s a Wonderful Life. And with good reason. For thousands of years Samarkand has been a cultural, political, and key commercial center on the Silk Road, home to scholars, scientists, emperors, theologians, artisans, and people from all walks of life. In 1992 it also became home to REI staff and volunteers, working primarily in education.

Uzbekistan was a former Soviet republic, and after attaining independence in 1991 its first president was still imbued with many Soviet attitudes and perspectives. NGOs (non-government organizations, roughly equivalent to non-profits) were initially allowed in, then kicked out a few years later. (REI was not expelled from the country but chose to leave voluntarily at that time in 2008.)

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REI has the distinct privilege of providing resources to help launch the Samarkand International University of Technology (SIUT) in 2023 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. 

The mission of SIUT is to train highly qualified, world-class engineering personnel who will serve the comprehensive development of Uzbekistan's economy, increasing their global influence and interstate cooperation in the name of peace and progress. The main goal is to tran highly qualified engineering and technical personnel at international educational standards who are capable of solving the most important scientific, technological and production tasks.

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