Kyrgyzstan ambassador visits UNT, marking start of academic relationship

Zamira Sydykova, ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to the United States and Canada with Howard Johnson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Tuesday, June 20, 2006

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- The University of North Texas marked the beginning of an academic relationship with Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian country west of China, with a visit June 16 (Friday) from Zamira Sydykova, ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to the United States and Canada.

Six Kyrgyzstani students -- all police officers -- joined UNT in May, making it the first university in the U.S. to receive a group of sponsored students from Kyrgyzstan. The ambassador met with the students and talked with UNT officials about possible future projects with UNT, including language projects, study abroad programs and faculty exchanges.

Sydykova said the students will help improve the future of Kyrgyzstan when they carry home their U.S. education and experiences, leading to increased democracy, security and stability.

"We are partners in the fight on terrorism," Sydykova said. "We are partners to promote the idea of global security in the world."

Sydykova studied journalism at Moscow State University before working as a reporter for a popular youth newspaper, Komsomolets Kirgizii. She established the country's first independent newspaper, Res Publica, and fought for a free press, despite imprisonment for her coverage of corruption and an authoritarian government. In 2000, she earned the Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women's Media Foundation in Washington, D.C. She has served as ambassador of Kyrgyzstan since March 2005.

The students -- all graduates of the Turkish Police Academy in Ankara -- are studying in the Intensive English Language Institute at UNT before beginning master's and doctoral programs at UNT and other U.S. universities. They came to UNT through the Turkish Institute for Police Studies (TIPS), in which officers pursue graduate degrees in criminal justice or related fields. TIPS is an internationally known and recognized research and training institute with more than 200 active members throughout 38 universities in the U.S., Europe and Turkey.

Kyrgyzstani student Irlan Bakiev said his time studying at UNT is "a great experience for us to do something for our country."

An academic relationship between UNT and Kyrgyzstan will help prepare globally competitive graduates, said Rebecca Smith-Murdock, interim executive director of international studies and programs at UNT.

"From the university's perspective, this is a part of the world about which we are historically less well informed," Smith-Murdock said. "We are looking for larger opportunities to study languages that are less commonly taught but increasingly more important in the world. There are also cultural and economic opportunities. Students need to know about that part of the world so they can be prepared as workers and citizens."

For more information, contact Rebecca Smith-Murdock at (940) 565-2197 or Samih Teymur, police major and director of the TIPS program at UNT, at (940) 891-6735.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108