U.S./Uzbekistan Network and International Exchange for Development

At least 14 Uzbek youth, ages 18-24, will spend 21 days learning and working alongside students at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. These interdisciplinary, cross-cultural student teams will explore careers in government, education, community organizing and development, socially responsible business. Then, they will apply classroom knowledge to develop and execute collaborative projects that make an impact in the community.

Teachers College faculty David Roof and Rachel Geesa developed the project, titled U.S./Uzbekistan Network and International Exchange for Development (UNITED), which is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of State. UNITED also involves Ball State faulty traveling to Uzbekistan this Spring to deliver seminars about global citizenship, community engagement, and leadership.

“This project will make a valuable contribution to relationships between two strategically important countries,” said Roof, a professor of Educational Studies and the project’s co-principal investigator. “This program will also enhance academic cooperation between the United States and Uzbekistan — two democratic partner countries which share common goals and aspirations.”

Geesa, a professor of Educational Leadership, said Ball State faculty from across campus will participate in the project — teaching students about key concepts related to civics — and then guiding them through hands-on projects that challenge students to apply their knowledge to benefit the community.

“Students will dig into a topic they are passionate about and work with others to organize a public discussion about a critical issue or undertake a need or assets assessment of a particular geographic or demographic community,” said Geesa, a co-principal for the project. “They can collaborate in a co-creative way with local or state actors already engaged in meaningful public work — really, the project is up to them. I’m excited to see what they come up with when they apply knowledge to action.”

Ball State’s Digital Corps will support the interdisciplinary student teams execute any digital elements of their projects, including website design and development, public relations, and social media strategy. The UNITED project will also coordinate with Ball State’s Office of Student Life. Kara Westfall, Associate Director of Student Like said that their office “will ensure the Uzbek and Ball State students engage in a full spectrum of leadership activities and service.”

Campus and community members involved in the project, include: Dr. Susan Luo, International Program Coordinator at Rinker Center for Global Affairs/the Intensive English Institute, will serve as project manager. Kate Elliott, a lecturer of journalism, will work to share information about media literacy. Phil Boltz, a School & Educational Data Systems Designer who has extensive experience in global affairs, will serve as a consultant on the project.

For more information about UNITED, please contact Dr. David J. Roof at djroof@bsu.edu

From June 15-July 6, Ball State University hosted 15 Uzbek college students, ages 18-24, and one Uzbek faculty member, as part of a new exchange program.

For those 21 days, the visiting youth learned and worked alongside Ball State students in interdisciplinary, cross-cultural student teams. The teams explored careers in government, education, community organization and development, and socially responsible business. Then, they applied classroom knowledge to develop and execute collaborative projects that make an impact in the community.

The project, U.S./Uzbekistan Network and International Exchange for Development (UNITED), was developed by Teachers College faculty David Roof, associate professor of Educational Studies; and Rachel Geesa, associate clinical professor of Educational Leadership. The project was funded by the U.S. Department of State and supported by the U.S. Embassy Tashkent Public Diplomacy Section (PDS). UNITED also involved Ball State faculty traveling to Uzbekistan last Fall to deliver seminars about the project and building relationships between the U.S. and Uzbekistan.

Arrival: June 15-16, 2023

The Uzbek students and faculty member arrived in Muncie on Thursday, June 15, 2023, and spent the next day getting settled in after such a long journey.

Conner Prairie: June 17, 2023

On the first day trip of the program, the group traveled to Conner Prairie in Fishers, Indiana. At this nationally acclaimed outdoor museum, they learned about history of the area, and were able to explore Indiana’s natural and cultural heritage through hands-on, immersive, and interactive experiences.

Minnetrista Cultural Center: June 18, 2023

On June 18, the group visited Minnetrista, where they learned more about the history of Muncie, and the Ball family. They also visited the Bob Ross Experience, and learned about the filming of The Joy of Painting.

Juneteenth: June 19, 2023

On June 19, after experiencing a midwest superstore for the first time, they traveled to Dr. Roof’s house for a cookout. After a relaxing afternoon, they had a session at the Virginia Ball Center with Kate Elliott, a lecturer in the School of Journalism and Strategic Communication, and Susan Luo, the Interim International Program Coordinator in the Rinker Center for Global Affairs.

Lunch and Crafts: June 20, 2023

On the sixth day of the UNITED program, the Uzbek students and faculty had lunch with several Ball State faculty, including Anand Marri, the interim provost, and former dean of Teachers College. Afterwards they met again with Susan Luo, this time in the Student Center. Afterwards, Kara Westfall, associate director of student life at Ball State, gave them a craft project. They split into groups and made tie blankets for the YMCA.

Indianapolis: June 21, 2023

On June 21, they headed to Indianapolis. The first stop was the Indiana Statehouse building, which they toured and found out more about Indiana state history, and government. They also toured the Indiana State Museum and its many exhibitions, walked along the canal, rode in swan paddle boats, and went to a concert at the TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park.

Campus and Community: June 22, 2023

Back in Muncie, on day eight, the exchange group learned about Ball State Accessibility Services, and the Ball State Art Museum, followed by a bus tour of the Muncie community.

Nature and the City: June 23, 2023

Starting out on campus, the group visited Christy Woods and the Dr. Joe and Alice Rinard Orchid Greenhouse & the Environmental Education Center. After communing with nature, they had a change of scenery by heading to Cincinnati for an overnight trip.

Cincinnati: June 24, 2023

Everyone had a great time exploring Cincinnati. Highlights include a visit to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and eating at an Uzbek restaurant.

On the River: June 25, 2023

On day 11, the group had an adventure on the White River in Yorktown and Daleville, Indiana.

Agriculture: June 26, 2023

Heading north, the exchange group took a day trip to Fair Oaks Farm, northwest of Rensselaer, Indiana, and Purdue University in West Lafayette.

Recreation: June 27, 2023

Exploring the Ball State Recreation and Wellness Center, some braved the climbing wall.

Celebration: June 28, 2023

The UNITED program celebrated the project and the students who completed it, with a dinner in the Ball Brothers Foundation Hospitality Suite in the second floor of Emens Auditorium.

Burris, Erskine Green, and Shaffer Chapel: June 29, 2023

On day fifteen, the UNITED group visited Burris Laboratory School, the Erskine Green Training Center, and Shaffer Chapel, which was built in 1893, and whose structure is Muncie’s oldest standing public school building.

Science: June 30, 2023

The group spent June 30 concentrated on scientific pursuits. First, they visited the Charles W. Brown Planetarium on campus, which is the largest planetarium in Indiana. After they explored the sky, they toured the newly built Ball State Science Foundations Building.

Science: July 1, 2023

To kick off July, the Uzbek group traveled to Indianapolis and visited the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.

Work and Play: July 2, 2023

With the end of the UNITED experience approaching, the students spent the day both working, and playing. They caught a movie at the local AMC theater, then worked to prepare presentations that they would give the next day.

Presentation Day: July 3, 2023 (pt. one)

The students in the UNITED program were asked to apply classroom knowledge to develop and execute collaborative projects that are impactful. On July 2, the participants made their final presentations.

Second Harvest: July 3, 2023 (pt. two)

After the presentations were done, the UNITED program participants visited Second Harvest Food Bank, where they volunteered along with Ball State students.

Chicago: July 4-6, 2023

On July 2, the group traveled to Chicago to spend the last few days exploring the city before heading home.