Crossing Borders; a Conversation with Central Asia

Crossing Borders; a Conversation with Central Asia

The chance to share, experience, and relate with peers from different cultures, backgrounds, and countries is a privilege; and it is one that the American University of Nigeria (AUN) provides through various platforms.

On 3rd May 2021, my composition class participated in a virtual inter-school discussion between students of the American University of Nigeria located in Yola and the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) located in Kyrgyzstan. This was the fourth in the series initiated by the course instructors - Emilienne Akpan of AUN and Ekaterina Galimova of AUCA.

The topic we researched for the exchange was the effects of social media on youths. Students from each school gave their opinions and validated their positions with examples and experiential knowledge. It was very enlightening to understand the topic from other people’s points of view and I saw myself shifting from a rigid mindset to a more flexible one which accommodated contrary views shared by my peers from both AUN and AUCA.

After the engaging 60-minute discussion which permitted us to explore the educational, social, emotional, psychological, economic, and behavioral aspects of social media, we also had the opportunity to join breakout rooms and contribute to the discourse on social issues in our respective countries. The topics ranged from gender equality, gender-based violence and tribalism, to environmental concerns, post-colonialism, forced marriages, and the impact of online education. We were able to ‘move’ from one room to another to either listen in or contribute to the ongoing conversations.

My group discussed women’s rights and tribalism and I was able to express my thoughts with non-native peers and also listen to their perspective on how the contemporary issues discussed affect their lives. At the end of the second segment, a representative from each group summarized the points shared and lessons learned by the participants.

Preparations for the interface were intense and I truly enjoyed this informative experience which allowed us to speak as a group with peers we had been communicating with by email, and also enabled us to work on our research, digital literacy, and communication skills. What I also found enriching was learning about the different sides of Kyrgyzstani value systems; and sharing my culture, my world, and my experiences with students from AUCA.

This interaction with peers from another school and continent won’t be my last as there’s so much to share, know and learn when you are a student at the American University of Nigeria.

Reported by Adedamola Calvin Adebiyi,

(International and Comparative Politics Major)