The picture above is of Anita and Sara, who visited CAG’s office in Malmö as a part of their preparation for an internship in Kyrgyzstan to work with our partner Novi Ritm, a youth organization based in Osh. We asked Sara and Anita a few questions about themselves and about their expectations from the internship.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Anita: I’m doing my masters right now in Security and Crisis Studies at the Swedish Defense University. I’ve already been involved in civil society for quite a long time, primarily through the Swedish United Nations Association, so I am very excited for this internship!
Sara: I have a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Uppsala University, and I’ve studied Russian for two semesters. I’ve also worked with a Red Cross youth association as a manager of an integration-oriented buddy group, where I organized some activities for young people with different backgrounds to try to make their leisure time meaningful.
Why did you decide to do the internship?
Anita: I’ve been an editor-in-chief for an organization that writes about foreign affairs, and we cover Central Asia there. I also did an internship at the Eastern Europe and Central Asia department of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, where I realized that I would like to learn more about the region. But there are very limited possibilities to do so in Sweden. When I saw the position on CAG’s website I thought it was a perfect opportunity for me, because I was already so involved with Central Asia and with civil society.
Sara: I also did an internship at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and even though my focus was on Russia, I worked with Central Asia in some forms, so that’s where my interest for the region really bloomed out. I would like to work with Central Asia, and I think that the right and the quickest way to get a more in-depth understanding of the region is to actually go there.
Do you have any expectations from Kyrgyzstan? Will this be your first time visiting Central Asia?
Sara: I’ve never been to Central Asia, so this will be something very new for me. I expect that there will be a mix of cultures. Everybody talks about how great the food in Kyrgyzstan is, so I look forward to that. And I’m excited about the nature, as I love hiking.
Anita: This will be my first time visiting Central Asia as well. I got even more excited for our internship now, after the introduction days with CAG and Novi Ritm. It will be very interesting to see how different cultures influence each other in Kyrgyzstan. I also enjoy collectivistic family-oriented cultures, so this makes me excited about getting to know Kyrgyzstan as well.
What do you hope to gain during this experience?
Sara: I expect that I will learn a lot. I’m looking forward to getting to know Novi Ritm’s staff and how they work as an organization. And I expect to be challenged. I think it’s going to be a challenging experience.
Anita: I think it will be very interesting to see the perspective of the local civil society and learn about their tools, methods and goals. I am very passionate about Central Asia and would like to work with the region, but it might be difficult for a person, who comes from the global North, to work with a region that you have no real insight into. Which is why it will be helpful to be on the ground and get engaged with civil society. And Novi Ritm as an organization seems to be very inventive – I will have gain a lot of insights in how they work.
Sara: I agree. It’s always good to have this experience and understanding of the region to be able to go back to Sweden and keep working with it.
Anita: I also think it’s really unfair that we have such little knowledge about the entire region of Central Asia in Sweden. I’m hoping we can contribute a tiny bit and share their stories.
Stay tuned for updates from Sara and Anita about their experiences in Kyrgyzstan!