Network Building through Cultural Exchange
Although the workshops took up a lot of time at the Kick-Off Meeting, participants also made time for informal fun and learning. Issyk-Kul served as the perfect setting for building professional and personal ties across borders.
On the shores of the lake, participants took part in a bonfire in the sand on the first night of the meeting. Another evening was devoted to sharing food, music, and traditions from participants’ home regions. People were able to try delicious drinks from Georgia and Moldova, sweets from Ukraine, Germany, and Bulgaria, pastries and fruit from Armenia, and Kyrgyz treats among other international delicacies. Kyrgyz participants also taught the group how to dance in one of the local styles.
One afternoon was spent at the Ruh Orda cultural park in Cholpon Ata, where the history, politics, music, and literature of Kyrgyzstan was showcased in a gorgeous setting. The epic poem of Manas was featured there, along with traditional crafts and life ways.
By sharing their culture with one another, the group as a whole was able to form a cohesive bond as a network of colleagues. The were also have to gain a deeper understanding of the issues faced by youth in each of the participants’ home countries.