“It was founded by six or seven students from Uzbekistan,” UzSSA founder Umida Khikmatillaeva said. “They are all very involved.”
Uzbekistan, a country of more than 28 million people, borders Kazakhstan and Afghanistan in Central Asia.
UzSSA sponsored the event to further spread awareness about their culture to the IU community. Current UzSSA President G’ulomjon Azimov said in a speech introducing the event that introducing their culture to IU was a top priority, as many people would mishear or not understand where he was from.
“We don’t want that to happen again,” Azimov said, laughing.
After the introduction, two award-winning Uzbek pianists studying at the Jacobs School of Music played. One pianist, Gulrukh Shakirova, played a piece she had composed called “Birth of the Universe.” Shakirova has won awards from countries all around the world, including Uzbekistan, France, the United States and Kazakhstan. Brendan Shaw, who began studying violin at the age of 3, then joined the pianists in another song.
After the musicians played, IU Fullbright language-teaching assistant and “cultural ambassador” Muparrakh Musaeva performed a traditional Uzbek dance to modern music.
“Dance is very important to the Uzbek nation, because we tell all of our emotions, all of our love, through the dance,” Musaeva said. “We are people who love freedom, and our dance shows that.”
After her dance, Musaeva attempted to pull all the members of the audience to join her.
“Only those with a pure heart can dance,” she said.
Khikmatillaeva said they showcased “Voices from Uzbekistan” because the Office of International Services asked them to present their country to campus. This event represented further efforts by UzSSA to create a presence on campus after a successful presentation at the IU World’s Fare during International Education Week in November 2012. At World’s Fare, UzSSA won first place in cultural display. They also performed a play.
Khikmatillaeva said this event was Nov. 2. On Nov. 26, the Uzbekistan ambassador to the U.S., IIlhom Nematov, visited the IU campus. She said she believed it was because they had drawn attention by showcasing their culture.
Caroline Stokes, a freshman studying Turkish as part of the new Turkish Flagship Program, attended the event because of the cultural experience it offered.
“I wanted the chance to explore other cultures in the same area (as Turkey),” Stokes said.
Khikmatillaeva said all she wants is a strong presence at IU.
“My dream is that our country would be represented at IU, and I’m so happy so many young students are interested,” Khikmatillaeva said.
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