By Natasha Bhuyan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
The UA will partner with a university from Tucson's sister city in Kazakhstan through a memorandum of understanding, an agreement that will promote both cultural and academic exchanges.
President Peter Likins will sign an International Memorandum of Agreement Thursday, which will link the UA with Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Tucson's "sister city" since 1989.
Jerry M. Gary, chairman of the Tucson-Almaty Sister Cities Committee, said the IMOA will open the door for students and professors to assimilate the educational practices of another country and sample the cultural differences that exist, while observing how business is done in both.
After Likins signs the IMOA, Gary said the schools will begin the process of finding a consistent curriculum that will enable students from both sides to earn credit at the other university, making it the first partnership between the UA and Almaty.
"The life-altering experience of spending a year in another country, making friends and acquaintances and learning of each others' heritage helps greatly in bringing down the barriers that exists in our world today," Gary said.
A branch of the Sister Cities International, the Tucson-Almaty Sister Cities Committee is a non-profit organization which aims to promote "people-to-people diplomacy." TASCC conducts programs in education, culture and economic development, with an emphasis in education, Gary said.
By signing an IMOA, both universities will also be able to exchange faculty, research and develop collaborative programs in areas of mutual interest. Students can also study at the partner university without facing a tuition change, according the IMOA template.
The partnership was initiated by an Almaty high school student who was attending Cholla High School in 1999. Then in 2000, Gary said the student's sister was getting ready to enroll at the Al-Farabi University and she arranged for him to meet with the university administrators and with deans of three different colleges, who were interested in creating a partnership with universities in America.
In 2003, Daulet Kalanov, from Astana, Kazakhstan, became a UA student and his mother, an employee at the Ministry of Education in Kazakhstan, encouraged the Al-Farabi officials to submit a formal request to Likins.
Gary said when students from Tucson visited Almaty in 1999, they learned school had "much less chaos and distraction" while the Almaty students saw the opulence of America.
The signing will take place Thursday at 3 p.m. in the President's Office.