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March 8, 2021 at 8:19 pm

Virtual Silk Road Connects Uzbekistan and OHIO English as Second Language Initiative

The Andijan State University collaborators, group shot.

The Andijan State University collaborators

OHIO’s OPIE and Andijan State University Collaborate on Online English Program  in 2020-21

For nearly two millennia, the trade route called the Silk Road connected the East and West. The Ohio Program of Intensive English and Uzbekistan’s Andijan State University didn’t let a pandemic stop their collaboration.

Just as ideas were exchanged along that ancient route, the two universities are now collaborating on an online English as Second Language and Teacher Training program, thanks to a prestigious, highly competitive award by the American Councils for International Education under its Central Asia University Partnerships Program (UNICEN).

The virtual highway connects teachers from Uzbek and OPIE.

The virtual highway connects teachers from Uzbek and OPIE.

Other American institutions awarded UNICEN grants include Purdue, Michigan State,  Iowa State, UC Berkeley, and Pittsburgh. A total of 45 American universities submitted proposals spread across 29 states. Nationally, OPIE was one of three programs awarded a grant focusing on English as a Foreign Language (EFL) education and the only in the state of Ohio.

The goal of the program is to improve the English language and pedagogical skills for in-service and pre-service English teachers at ASU. OPIE faculty are offering online classes in Research Writing, Cross-cultural Communication, EFL Teaching Methodology and Instructional Technology. Since Ohio and Uzbekistan have an eight-hour time difference, the OPIE classes are being taught via Microsoft teams in the mornings with ASU students attending in the evening.

Palov is the Uzbek national dish.

Palov is the Uzbek national dish.

The initiative has been a cross-cultural experience for all participants.  In addition to OPIE faculty sharing their expertise,  ASU students have taught OPIE faculty about their education system and aspects of Uzbek culture such as the Uzbek national dish “palov,” the importance of the extended family, and the special role bread plays in human relations.

Bread plays a special role in Uzbek human relations.

Bread plays a special role in Uzbek human relations.

OPIE personnel in the initiative are Kyle Butler, Becky Challenger, Sally Hatfield, Gerry Krzic, and Aaron Schwartz. For ASU, Farhod Alimov, Head of the International Relations Office, and Professor Dilrabo Ahmadalieva coordinate the program in Uzbekistan.

All the ASU students have been pleased with the program. Oylola Ibrohimova said she enjoys the high quality of the lessons by experienced faculty who have created a free atmosphere for students to express their opinions. Khurshida Abdullaeva said she is proud of studying in the course because of the new knowledge and information. And Sevara Nazarova said all the lessons were professionally organized, interesting and fun.

Andijan State University

Andijan State University

Similarly OPIE faculty members have been impressed with the ASU students. Sally Behrenwald said working with them has been a pleasure and their enthusiasm has been outstanding. Challenger also commented that is a great opportunity to learn from and work with the administrators and graduate students at Andijan State University. She especially noted that the  spirit of collegiality within this collaboration.

COVID permitting, the final stage of the program is a visit to each other’s campus to build upon the virtual connection. Anyone who would like to know more info, please contact Krzic, OPIE,  at krzic@ohio.edu.

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