Promoting Tolerance Program in the Eyes of Azis Isa
The study trip to the U.S. was vigorous intellectually and impressive culturally. We, the participants, have met a number of civil society and AJC leaders, who generously shared with us their experience and perspectives on the state of politics and civil rights in the U.S. I was amazed by the level of cooperation and dedication of the civil society in the U.S. The quality and richness of the U.S. study program was beyond my all expectations. The program started in Washington D.C. where we first visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum and were overwhelmed by the tragic history of the Jewish people and their sufferings. The same day we explored the Capitol Hill and had first-hand experience of how Congress functions. In the evening our group was warmly hosted by an American Jewish family and their friends. During the dinner we had a lively discussion and exchange of ideas about American politics from the perspectives of insiders (Americans) and outsiders (the program’s participants).
In New York we had inspiring and thought-provoking meetings with a number of civil rights leaders, who shared their understandings of how civil rights movement has been developing in the U.S. and future challenges. The program in New York included authentic cultural events like visiting Sesame Workshop, exploring the Central Park and attending the live music performance, all of which left me with vivid long memories. After New York, I went to Cincinnati, where I met with local religious and AJC activists. The experience in Cincinnati was very different from those in New York and Washington, so that I had an opportunity to see another unique side of diverse America. The best part of the Cincinnati program was getting to know all those kind and attentive people, who showed us the city and hosted me for two days. The Shabbat service led by Rabbi Michael Danzinger at the Cincinnati Temple demonstrated to our group how inclusive, unconventional and entertaining the service could be indeed.
In Chicago, during our meetings the invited prominent guests from media and civic organizations raised many concerns about rising populism and polarization in American politics, which could lead to a serious political crisis or gridlock. The pressing political issues in the U.S., that we actively discussed, always triggered reflections in my mind about the politics in our region often comparing similarities and differences between the Central Asian and American politics. All those meetings and discussions in the U.S. major cities provided me with a plenty of intellectual food to contemplate about long after the end of the program.
Have a look at a Shabbat in Cincinnati.
I believe, the Promoting Tolerance program was a strong inspiration and motivation for me to keep fighting for human rights and human dignity back in my country. Overall, the program gave me many insights and valuable knowledge on how to advance the cause of liberty and human rights in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. I would like to wholeheartedly express many thanks to the American Jewish Committee and Friedrich Naumann Foundation for an opportunity to participate in this remarkable program.
Expert in Central Asian Free Market Institute
Promoting Tolerance 2017 Alumnus