Uzbek ambassador visits IU


Ilhom Nematov, Uzbekistan's ambassdor to the United States, spoke at the "Day of Uzbekistan" event in the University Club Monday evening. The event celebrated Uzbekistan culture and the 20th anniversary of the Contstitution with speeches, music and traditional dances. Sarah Boyum Buy Photos

Uzbekistan, a country of more than 28 million people, is located in the heart of central Asia and borders Kazakhstan and Afghanistan.

Nematov spoke during a program Monday night at the Indiana Memorial Union, which featured pictures from Uzbekistan, Uzbek food and a video highlighting the country.

He met with College of Arts and Sciences Dean Larry Singell and Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret to discuss opportunities between universities in Uzbekistan’s capital of Tashkent and IU.

“We would like to agree with this University to have an exchange program,” Nematov said. “We would like to send some professors from here to Tashkent and bring some professors from Tashkent to Indiana.”

Christopher Atwood, chair of Central Eurasian Studies, presented Nematov with Uzbek textbooks.

The visit marked the first time an Uzbek ambassador to the U.S. has visited Indiana.
Nematov said it is important to keep people informed about what is happening in Uzbekistan.

“It’s very useful to know what has been going on and has been done in a short time of independence,” Nematov said.

Uzbekistan became independent in 1991 after separating from the Soviet Union.
“At the beginning of independence, we faced some challenges,” Nematov said. “In spite of that, we accomplished a lot of economic, political and cultural reforms. We restored our culture, history, people, identity and dignity.”

During the presentation, students studying the Uzbek language showcased what they have learned. Nematov said he was not only surprised but also proud.

IU’s Central Eurasian Studies is the only department in the U.S. that offers four levels of Uzbek, according to the department’s website.

“I was so glad to see and so proud that some Americans communicate in Uzbek,” Nematov said. “That’s why we would like to establish close contact with the University.”
Nematov stressed the importance of education in Uzbekistan, which allows students to attend school for 12 years at no cost. Uzbek students complete nine years of general education and three years of professional education.

Umida Khikmatillaeva, graduate student and president of the IU Uzbek Student and Scholar Association came to the U.S. from Uzbekistan for more opportunities.
“Living here means having a lot of opportunity,” Khikmatillaeva. “Living there means being happy with your family, with your friends, and serving your country.”

Individuals in Uzbekistan come to the U.S. with a mission, Khikmatillaeva said.

“We would like to learn the best of America and take it to our country and share with this country (the U.S.),” she said.

Khikmatilleva said one of her students who works at the Uzbekistan Embassy in Washington, D.C., said embassy officials expressed interest about visiting IU.

“He expressed that they want to come and build a relationship with IU because IU is a famous university, and we offer more than 77 languages here and three flagships, so they were interested in it,” Khikmatillaeva said.

Craig Perry, a graduate student at IU and a major in the U.S. Army, is studying Uzbek in preparation for work in the country.

Perry worked in Uzbekistan for five months as a chief of military in the Army Foreign Area Officer Program.

Events such as the one that took place Monday night communicate the Uzbekistan government’s intent to look beyond a military and political relationship with the U.S., Perry said.

“I think their desire for academic relationships shows desire to show experience and ideas,” Perry said.

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