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A long way from home

Thursday, November 30, 2006

(Photo)
ELNURA AITBEKOVA
KOSHKONONG -- Koshkonong foreign exchange student Elnura Aitbekova recently gave a presentation about her country, Kyrgyzstan, to students in her agricultural science class.

"The program that sponsors me is called the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) program. I applied for the program because I wanted to promote respect for cultural diversity, friendship between the United States and my country and experience the opportunity for leadership and personal development," she said.

Aitbekova has been in the United States since August and will return to her country in May of next year. She is 17 and a junior at the school. She said when she returns home she will be in her last year of school.

"Kyrgyzstan is a sovereign moderate republic situated in the northeast part of central Asia," she said.

Kyrgyzstan is twice the size of Hungary or three times larger than Sri Lanka.

"About the same size as South Dakota, and 6 million people live there. Kyrgyzstan borders with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China," Aitbekova said.

She said a long time ago the Great Silk Road passed through her country.

"It brought exchange of trade and culture between Kyrgyzstan, China, Iran, India and Arabian Sea area," she said.

She said her country became home to more than 80 nationalities and ethnic communities including Kyrgyz, Russians, Ukrainians, Uzbeks, Tatars, Kazakhs, Uigurs and Tajiks.

"As a multi-national country, Kyrgyzstan has a rich variety of languages, literature, customs and communities that offer color and variety to the Kyrgyz culture," Aitbekova said.

The nation's official languages are Kyrgyz and Russian.

"Our people are friendly, tolerant, soft-spoken and always ready to share interesting cultural concepts," she said.

Aitbekova has been staying with FFA advisor George Gross and his family. The Grosses have hosted nine exchange students in their home the past seven years.

Gross said his family has enjoyed Aitbekova's stay in their home. "She is fun, delightful and has taught the family a lot about cultural differences," Gross said.

Since coming to Koshkonong School Aitbekova has been involved in FFA, FCCLA, MYN and the Science Club.

She enjoys sports such as cross county running and also likes crafts and home decorating.

She said when her high school education is complete she intends to attend American University in central Asia for two years and study landscape design. She said then she would like to go to college in Japan as an exchange student.

"I have enjoyed my stay at Koshkonong and appreciate and enjoy the Grosses," she said. She said the family has helped her adjust to life in southern Missouri.



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