Sponsored study abroad and civic engagement in Kyrgyzstan
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Jailobaeva, K. & Baialieva, M. (2020) Sponsored study abroad and civic engagement in Kyrgyzstan. Journal of Civil Society, 16(3), pp. 234-242.
The article explores whether study abroad programmes sponsored by multilateral and bilateral development organizations and private philanthropic foundations promote civic engagement of their alumni upon their return to their home country. The article focuses on the case of Kyrgyzstan, which has had a number of international study abroad scholarship programmes since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The research was exploratory and utilized in-depth interviews for collecting data. In agreement with the literature, the research found that the alumni of scholarship programmes had experienced changes in their values and worldviews as a result of being exposed to a new environment but also of having a formalized study programme that enabled them to critically reflect on their own country and culture and to expand their knowledge in the new context. These changes prompted most participants in the research to be civically engaged in the social and political issues of their society in their home country through voluntarism. Importantly, the article expands the literature by arguing that this civic engagement has positive implications for the development of civil society and democratic values and practices in Kyrgyzstan.