I visited Akfa University, a new private institution of higher learning in Tashkent last week. Akfa is a large manufacturing company here in Uzbekistan and they produce a wide range of products from building materials to heating, pharmaceuticals and cooling systems. Taking a tour of their massive campus located across from the future international airport, it is obvious they have lots of funding. They are starting with 1,000 students and all programs are in English. They have a school of medicine, business, etc. and most importantly for me and why I was visiting, was their College of Education. They have a bachelor’s degree program in English Language Teaching. I was most surprised that all of the classes are in English which is an indication of the future of Uzbekistan, joining the world economy and leaving the Russian sphere of influence. Their goal is 10,000 students and they are already recruiting internationally and have dormitories. This is one of several universities that are expanding in the city including Webster, Westminster, Amity, etc. I hope there are jobs and careers waiting for these young people upon graduation and that will be the challenge of the government.
It was a gorgeous day with warm temperatures and blue skies on Saturday. I walked Obi in the morning and made a point to check out the Ukrainian Embassy in Tashkent. The embassy is located near others so I am not sure if there was an increased police presence or not, but on a Saturday morning, it was pretty quiet. I furtively snapped a couple of photos. It is an uneasy time in Eastern Europe because of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. Uzbekistan is a long way from the fighting but as a former Soviet Republic, it is in the news here. Most Uzbeks are generally pro-Russian and they connect Russia with quality, whether it is in schools, consumer products and services. This is much different than the rest of the world. Russian is still the main language in Tashkent, at least for now. The Uzbek government has a good relationship with Russia but they do not share a border and are not as connected as Kazakhstan with Russia.