We’re still in the process of finalitzing this trip’s programme. Check back later for more details or get in touch with us if you have questions. If you are pretty sure already that this trip will be for you, write us and we put you on a waiting list.

  • Application Deadline

    31.07.2019

  • Price

    tbd (we try to stay < 1000.-)

What’s awaiting you

A black spot on many people’s minds, Kazakhstan is a remarkable country certainly worth exploring in depth. Its history, rapid economic development, tumultuous political situation and complex societal fabric invite a more nuanced examination in close interaction with local people. A visit would not be complete without appreciating the country’s natural beauty as well, not least since its vast size and seemingly endless steppe is very much part of Kazakhstan’s identity. Nevertheless, this trip will give you an experience that goes beyond the image of horses on a plain, hoping to reveal that what lies below that plain is equally rewarding to explore – or far more so in fact.

We will be accompanied by a local resident throughout the trip, most of the time by co-organizer Aima. Being able to exchange and calibrate our own experiences with a local’s perspective shall ensure that we can contextualize and understand better what we see and through this hopefully get a more valuble, longer-lasting, more responsible and ultimately richer picture of Kazakhstan as a replacement for the black spot.

We’re still in talks and preparations concerning the programme, which will be finalized in the course of May. Here are some early stage hints at what might be included, among other and without guarantee:

Almaty:

  • Visiting the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University and meeting students; attending a lecture
  • Meeting a representative of Kazakhstan’s UNESCO chair, learning about the country’s nature and culture conservation efforts
  • Visiting leading private university KIMEP, learning about its international standing and the key academic role it plays in the wider region
  • Meeting a local musician well-connected to both the city’s mainstream and underground music scenes
  • Meeting a local septuagenarian who’s owned a restaurant in the city for decades and can share profound insights into the country’s transformation since becoming an independent country
  • Going out with local youths, exploring the city’s vibrant nightlife which is likely quite different from what most people expect

Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana):

  • Meeting with high school students who are part of the first generation of people who’ve spent their entire lives in the modern capital which was founded only 20 years ago
  • Meeting with a young entrepreneur
  • Hopefully: meeting with an architect/architecture student to learn about the gargantuan project of constructing a new city out of almost nothing
  • Hopefully: meeting representatives of the Swiss diplomatic presence in the city, learning about the two countrys’ bilateral relations

Turkistan:

  • Visiting the beautiful Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, the prime exampe of Timurid architecture in Kazakhstan
  • Keeping in mind the city’s demographic (roughly) 50/50 split between Kazakhs and Uzbeks, we try to learn more about the historical and current relationship between these peoples (especially in the border region that is Turkistan) and more generally the modern-day nation state relations between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan

If time allows, we will include a primarily natural sight, such as a visit to Altyn Emel National Park, the Charyn Canyon or the Trans-Ili Alatau (mountain range). Along the way and in many more informal interactions we will discuss topics such as the ethnic and cultural diversity in the country and possible tensions arising from it, the role Islam plays in people’s lives (or rather how different a role it plays for different people), the amalgamation of languages in everyday life and in which way the political system might and might not affect residents.

All transportation will be overland by train, bus or minibus.

Accomodation will be rudimentary including possibly multi-bed dormitories.

The trip’s duration will be 10-12 days.

Meet the Organizers

Aima Seitova

Aima is a simultaneous interpreter and a translator of English and French into Russian. She works for the Foreign Ministry of Kazakhstan. Born in Almaty, but most of her life has been living in the capital city of Kazakhstan. Aima graduated from the Eurasian National University. After her graduation, she spent a month in France, La Baule, where she went for a cultural internship and became friends with 45 people from 27 different countries. She has always been passionate about foreign languages, meeting new people, communicating with them and also travelling. And this determined her career choice. Aima is eager to help other people to discover her homeland, to learn about Kazakhstan from a different perspective and make new friends!

Kaspar Tobler

A two-months internship at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty last summer brought Kaspar in touch with the highly interesting, complex and beautiful country that is Kazakhstan. Attending several conferences and meetings where he got in touch with numerous fantastic people – including Aima – he already then started to think about a potential study trip and is now extremely happy to indeed organize one together with Aima. Kaspar studied Environmental Sciences in Zurich and currently works as a research associate in the area of natural catastrophe risk modelling. He has been part of the IFIL board for many years, ever since attending a memorable study trip to China in 2013.

Detailed Programme

Note that the programme is preliminary and might be subject to change.

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