Academic and Cultural News From Uzbekistan

VIII International Music Festival in Samarkand
Sharq taronalari (Melodies of the East)

The festival was initiated in 1997 by His Excellency Islom Karimov, President of the Republic
of Uzbekistan, and is now held every two years under the aegis of UNESCO in Samarkand.
The festival takes place at the end of August, a few days before Uzbekistan’s Celebration
of Independence on September 1. For everyone, being fortunate to watch the performances
at Samarkand’s Registan, the festival is a heart-lifting event. But even those who can
only watch them from afar, sitting in front of a TV, are touched by the warm communal spirit
of the audience and the performers, fostered no doubt by the outstanding hospitality of the
people of Samarkand.

At last year’s festival (August 25th-30th) one participant from Italy expressed his feelings
for Uzbekistan and its people by going before the start of the performances onto the stage,
where he repeated emphatically in Uzbek: “I love Uzbekistan, I do love Uzbekistan!” This
caused His Excellency Islom Karimov to join him on the stage, where he embraced the visitor.

Indeed, the “Sharq Taronalari” festival, perceived as a celebration of traditional music in
its undisturbed form and played on original instruments, has become a unique event. At the
eighth festival delegations from over 50 countries, including European and African countries,
were present. It is for a good reason that this festival takes place in Samarkand. Six hundred
years ago the great ruler Amir Temur (1336-1405) organized similar musical festivals with participants coming from China, Arabia and countries in between, as we learn from the Zafarnoma of the famous historian Sharafiddin Ali Yazdiy. H. E. Islom Karimov, referring to this source, stated in his short address (published in O’zbekiston Adabiyoti va San’ati):

O’zingiz o’ylang, aziz do’stlar, birodarlar, bundan olti asr avval aynan mana shu Samarkand
zaminida mavjud bo’lgan madaniy an’analar va “Sharq Taronalari” festivalining
ruhi va goyalariga qanchalar uyg’un va hamahang”

(Think about it, dear friends and brothers, how similar and harmonious the spirit and
goals of the “Sharq Taronalari” festival are with the cultural traditions that existed in
this very place of Samarkand six hundred years ago).

His Excellency Islom Karimov addresses attendees and participants of the festival. (AR)

His Excellency Islom Karimov addresses attendees and participants of the festival. (AR)

1. Kenneth Weisbrode, ”Uzbekistan: In the Shadow of Tamerlane.” World Policy Journal,
14.1 (1997), 56.

Academic and Cultural News From Turkmenistan

Conference on the Works and Life of
Turkmen Poet Azadi (1)

The international conference “Dovletmammet Azadi and the Life of Turkmen People in the
XVIII Century” was held this past May in Ashgabat. The forum was organized by the National
Institute of Manuscripts of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan. Researchers from the
U.S., Russia, Italy, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Korea, Indonesia, China, India,
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Algeria, Jordan, Libya, Syria, Egypt,
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Spain, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan and Uzbekistan attended the three-day conference that began on May 14th.

The conference was intended to promote the in-depth study of the spiritual heritage of the
Turkmen people as well as to identify new sources and scientific information concerning the
life and work of one of the greatest Turkmen poets and philosophers of the XVIII century,
Dovletmammet Azadi, who founded the Etrek-Gurgen school of Turkmen classical literature.

In his welcoming address to the participants of the conference, President Gurbanguly
Berdimuhamedov noted that the XVIII century went down in history as a time full of hardships
and severe blows for the Turkmens in terms of science, culture and human values. The
great humanistic appeals of Dovletmammet Azadi raised a powerful alarm awakening the
Turkmen spirit by turning to literature that united the people.

Turkmenistan Celebrated Day of Revival,
Unity and Poetry of Magtymguly (2)

On May 18th, Turkmenistan celebrated two national holidays - The Day of the Constitution
of Independent Neutral Turkmenistan and The Day of Revival, Unity and Poetry of
Magtymguly, symbolizing the triumph of peace and prosperity, national unity and cohesion.

President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov sent a congratulatory message to his compatriots.
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of our country’s Constitution, the main
law of national legislation. The desire of our people to build a democratic, secular state is legally enshrined in the main provisions and principles of the Constitution,” the message says.

“The Constitution of Turkmenistan and the wise appeals made by Magtymguly center on
complementary values that ensure an inextricable link between many generations and their unwavering integrity and solidarity. Magtymguly was a true patriot who dreamt of an underlying
unity and brotherhood for his people that would serve the basis for an immutable sovereign
Turkmen state. The great poet-thinker’s songs are an appeal for these humanistic values. His
immortal statements are perceived by our people as the spiritual guidance and rule of life.
Therefore our sacred duty is to preserve the main provisions and principles of our Constitution
reflecting our ancestors’ dreams of peace, independence and well-being while honoring the
humanistic and sincere precepts of Magtymguly Pyragy.”

1. Text obtained from, accessed June 2012,
2. Texts obtained from, accessed May 2012,

Academic and Cultural News From Kyrgyzstan

School of Leaders, Non-Profit Youth Organization
Dedicated to Helping Develop Kyrgyzstan

School of Leaders, a non-profit youth organization founded by Kyrgyz students with the
aims of attracting citizens of Kyrgyzstan to perform community service, to volunteer and to
teach the importance of education, tolerance, and leadership for the development of Kyrgyzstan was formed July 15th, 2011.

Since its inception, School of Leaders has already led a number of community projects. A
“Clean & Fun” initiative was kicked off immediately after the group’s founding. The program
sent local high school students and leaders of the organization to clean up local hospitals,
streets and National Heritage spots like Kurort in the Jalalabat region. In the process, School
of Leaders has collected over 600 commitments from local students and community members
to continue fighting to keep the city clean.

School of Leaders has also put together free Summer English courses and conversation
clubs that would benefit students in Jalalabat. With six volunteers from alumni who have participated in exchange programs abroad like the Future Leaders Exchange Program (FLEX) the organization was able to help forty five students improve their English skills. Held in downtown Jalalabat next to Mol-Mol Hotel, the course was offered three times a week with an emphasis English grammar, conversation, and vocabulary. In addition, course sessions were
also dedicated to instilling a firm understanding of leadership and tolerance.

With key members currently studying abroad during the academic year, School of Leaders
looks forward to reconvening in the summer with more projects dedicated to the development
of Kyrgyzstan. For more information on the organization or its activities, email Zafarbek
Sulaimanov at

(Zafarbek Sulaimanov, President, School of Leaders)

The 1st Annual Central Asian Literary Heritage Seminar:
The Life and Works of Mirzabek Toybayev

The Simultaneous Translation (ST) Club of the Simultaneous Translation Department of
the International Ataturk-Alatoo University (IAAU) recently hosted with the help from students
of Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University (KTMU) the 1st Annual Central Asian Literary
Heritage Seminar: “The Life and Works of Mirzabek Toybayev,” Thursday April 19th, 2012
in Konya Hall, IAAU.

The seminar, a student based initiative, is part of the Simultaneous Translation Department’s
efforts to connect the literary heritage of Central Asia with the scholarly and academic
aims of the International Ataturk-Alatoo University. Mirzabek Toybayev, National Playwright
and Writer of the Kyrgyz Republic and a former guest and admired friend of the university,
has spent more than fifty years (since his very first work in 1952) as a poet, playwright, and
prose writer. During that span, he has earned countless accolades and has accomplished the
rare feat of having been the first Kyrgyz author to have seven volumes of compositional works
published (Chingiz Aitmatov would later publish an eight-volume set in 2008). It was a great
honor to have the students and faculty welcome him and guests in assessing his contribution
to Kyrgyz and Central Asian literature and in presenting his plays and poems in English for
the very first time. For more information on the seminar or its program, please email (AR)