23 February 2007

Academic advising outside a mosque

It is sometime easy to forget in Bishkek, especially in the Western circles in which I travel, that that 80 percent of Kyrgyz Republic’s population identifies as Muslim. Mosques like this are not just places of worship and religious education, but social and commercial hubs that are typically ringed by vendors selling Islamic reading materials, prayer rugs, prayer beads, cosmetics, candy, inexpensive artwork, and clothing. While taking this photo, I was stopped by a mother and daughter, who asked me if I was American—even though I had not uttered a peep—and where I worked. It is not uncommon for people learning English here to ask native English speakers for the opportunity to practice their new language. The daughter, who spoke in halting English, told me she had recently graduated from Kyrgyz National University and asked how she could get into a graduate program in mathematics in the United States. I explained that there is no national application process and that she would have to review schools to determine those with suitable math programs, then which offered financial assistance for international students before initiating the labor-intensive process of applying to different universities, each of which has its own admission process. It may be a legacy of the highly centralized Society regime, but many people here expect a single, state-run “port of entry” for all graduate schools Anyway, as I was explaining this to the daughter, the mother approached me and unfolded her daughter’s university transcript and pointed out her coursework and grades. Afterwards, I thought, Does the mother carry around her daughter’s university transcript all the time? Or were they just out trolling for Yankee educators?

No comments:

Post a Comment