Weekend event celebrates Central Asian Culture

Traditional Turkic hats, jewelry, flags, books and food filled the Indiana Memorial Union’s University Club. A little boy and girl wore suits embroidered in a golden

Faculty and staff from different Turkic backgrounds came Sunday night to the closing reception of the weekend long Turkic Central Asian Festival.

Students from each of the four Turkic countries — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan — presented information and performed traditional songs and dances representative of their native country.

Kamilya Salibayeva is one of 3,000 students that have been accepted in to the Kazakhstan Presidential Bolashak Scholarship Program — a scholarship that gives Kazakhstan students a full-ride scholarship to study overseas at a top university, such as  Harvard, Emory, MIT or IU, according to the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan website.

The Bolashak scholars are expected to return to Kazakhstan for at least five years after they’ve obtained a degree.

Salibayeva said once they get back to Kazakhstan, they help promote their country’s industry, science, education and other areas of life.

Salibayeva said she hopes to get a Ph.D. in Computational Neuroscience so that she can teach at a university in Kazakhstan.

“I’m really happy that I’m here studying my major field,” Salibayeva said. “I’m really happy that I’m representing my country, which undoubtedly for me is a great pleasure to tell people more about Kazakhstan, how beautiful we are, how beautiful our culture is and just to tell people more about the diversity with countries across the world.”

Salibayeva said the event served to raise awareness about the diverse culture and the multinational, polyethnic communities of the Central Asian countries.

“We hope that celebrating Kazak, Uzbek, Kyrgyzstan cultures will help us promote the knowledge about our countries and help get people to know us more.” Salibayeva said.

The traditional, cultural reception was the third day of the festival. There was a Kazak movie in Wylie Hall after the reception.

Graduate student Assylbek Yesturly said he was there to support the countries involved and show the friendship within the Turkic countries. One way friendship was shown at the event was with the traditional Turkish food.

Umida Khikmatillaeva, the Uzbek Student and Scholar Association founder and adviser, said her husband prepared a huge pot of big pilav — a Turkish rice dish prepared in chicken broth.

“This is the hugest pilav, I think, ever in Bloomington,” she said. “Pilav is king of the Uzbek cuisine. It’s cooked everywhere, in the Middle East, in Asia, in a lot of nations. There was a noodle dish that originated from China and then over the years traveled to Central Asia.”

Khikmatillaeva said it is common to decorate tables with dry foods, such as pistachios and dates in Turkic countries.

This event was sponsored by IU Student Association, Office of International Services, the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resources Center, Central Eurasian Studies Department and the Center for the Study of the Middle East.

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