UNITED was designed to provide an innovative short-term in-person youth-focused exchange program to improve mutual understanding and people-to-people ties between the United States and Uzbekistan.
The UNITED Project equips future leaders of Uzbekistan with the knowledge and tools to impact their communities through opportunity.
The BSU-UNITED project was designed with two major goals in mind:
- Empower emerging young leaders in Uzbekistan with the knowledge and skills to participate in a global economy.
- Promote civic engagement among Uzbekistani youth through programming aimed at increasing their understanding of community service, global citizenship, and other youth capacity development activities
The exchange project was meticulously structured, with U.S. specialists offering seminars in media literacy and a continuous infusion of English language development throughout. With the support of the U.S. Embassy and other key stakeholders, the project had a comprehensive timeline of activities spanning areas such as civic engagement, community service, global citizenship, and youth capacity development. Furthermore, regular check-ins, feedback mechanisms, and milestone achievements were incorporated to ensure the project’s success and measure its impact.
In addition, cultural and community events were planned for the entire program to facilitate bonds among participants and faculty and to provide participants with a deeper understanding of Uzbekistan’s relationship to the United States. The project team also traveled to Uzbekistan to learn more about the participants and Uzbekistan.
Participants in BSU-UNITED shortly after the Uzbek delegation arrived at Ball State University.
Ball State University (BSU) proposed a two-year program titled the U.S./Uzbekistan Network and International Exchange for Development, abbreviated as project UNITED. This initiative aimed to forge and enhance mutual understanding and ties between the United States and Uzbekistan through a distinct, short-term, youth-focused exchange program. The program facilitated the visit of a group of Uzbek youth, aged between 18-24, and one Uzbek faculty member for a 21-day exchange program at BSU. Additionally, BSU faculty traveled to Uzbekistan to conduct seminars on global citizenship, community engagement, and leadership. Emphasizing gender equity, efforts were made to prioritize the recruitment and selection of female participants.
Funded by the Department of State (DoS) and U.S. Embassy Tashkent Public Diplomacy Section (PDS), the project spanned from September 1, 2022, to August 31, 2023. It combined both conventional and novel methods to cultivate global citizenship, integrating diverse evidence-based strategies and assessing outcomes methodically. By the end of the program, teams of college-aged Uzbek and U.S. students collaborated on projects addressing critical issues, initiating co-creative engagements with local or state entities. These engagements were geared towards introducing participants to public service professions and their corresponding educational pathways. A closing ceremony marked the culmination of their efforts, during which certificates of completion were distributed.
UNITED aimed to bridge the gap between U.S. and Uzbek youth, fostering lasting relationships and influencing future educational and professional paths. The program encompassed a range of seminars and workshops focused on media literacy and technology. Overseen by a TESOL expert, English language components were woven seamlessly throughout the curriculum. Participants were equipped with the means to influence their communities positively, with an emphasis on affiliations with U.S. youth organizations, women’s empowerment, and civil society reinforcement. Community service activities further highlighted societal challenges and showcased ways to enact positive change.
In collaboration with the U.S. Embassy, participants were handpicked following a rigorous selection process. Stringent monitoring and evaluation mechanisms ensured alignment with the U.S. Embassy’s guidelines, identifying best practices and rectifying challenges promptly. Active communication with the Embassy provided regular updates and event notifications. Contingency mechanisms were set in place to tackle unforeseen external obstacles, with solutions sought in consultation with the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy, Tashkent
On 15 June 2023, a group of Uzbek youth aged 18-24 and one Uzbek faculty member traveled to Ball State University for the BSU-UNITED in-person exchange program, enjoying a 21 day stay immersed in the culture and society of the United States.
Continue the BSU-UNITED story…
During a 21 day stay in Muncie, 15 Uzbek students learned and worked alongside Ball State students, forming interdisciplinary and cross-cultural teams to explore careers in government, education, community organizing and development, and socially responsible business while being immersed in U.S. culture. Students then applied classroom knowledge to develop and execute collaborative projects that maximize community impact.
“Citizenship, from my experience in the UNITED project, can be defined as more than just a legal status or a piece of identification. It is a deeper sense of belonging, responsibility, and active participation in a community or society…. Ultimately, citizenship is about realizing that we are all interconnected and have a shared responsibility in shaping a just, inclusive, and progressive society for all.” — BSU-UNITED participant from Uzbekistan