I made it! I’m sitting in my dorm on the beautiful, brand-new Naryn campus of University of Central Asia. After a long drive and a well-needed shower, we met the team and got to know the campus. It’s been an incredibly long day and I’m excited to get a proper start tomorrow after a good sleep.
Naryn is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It took five hours to drive from Bishkek and the terrain was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Once we got out of Bishkek, we headed straight for the mountains. The mountains here reminded me a bit of the mountain ranges in the Caucasus – They have no trees and little bush, and seem to be covered with something between grass and moss. The road, which I’m told was recently finished which explains the smooth driving, is cut straight out of the mountains and makes for pretty incredible views. The road to Naryn was funded as an extension of the University of Central Asia’s new campus, which has done a lot to connect the region with the capital. We passed so many mountain villages and old soviet-era buildings. Once we got closer to Naryn there were lots of yurts along the rivers that we passed with horses and cows and other animals grazing nearby. We had more than one cow traffic jam along the way.
The location of the campus was chosen specifically to help contribute to local development. The university, which was funded in part by the Aga Khan Development Network, chose Naryn as the location to make education moreaccessible to rural communities that have been neglected from development and education in the past. The university itself is actually an agreement between the governments of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and the Aga Khan, and brings together students from across the region.
The campus is beautiful. It was completed in September 2016 and is so impressive. It sits between two small mountain ranges. On the one side there is this beautiful red rock and on the other side it’s the same bright green mountains we drove by earlier. The design of the buildings is so clever – the dorms are nicer than any I’ve seen in North America! I’m looking forward to exploring the rest of it tomorrow. But for now I’m exhausted and off to bed!