2015 Summer Camp Staff

MYRZA KARIMOV
SUMMER CAMP DIRECTOR
(Kyrgyz Republic)

I have more than 15 years of experience working in the education sector, including seven years as a Project Management Specialist for the Central Asian Mission of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Before joining USAID, I spent more than 13 years in various positions, including Assistant Professor, Deputy Director, Dean, and Vice-Rector at Arabaev Kyrgyz State University and Jusup Balasagyn Kyrgyz National University. In these roles, I spearheaded efforts to enhance links between the university and international partners and promoted foreign language instruction. I also worked as a Programme Director for Counterpart International's civic education programme in Afghanistan. Currently I serve as a Central Asian Education Specialist with the University of Central Asia. I received a Master's degree in Education Policy and Administration, with a concentration on Comparative International Development Education from the University of Minnesota and I speak four languages fluently; Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Russian, and English.

FARRAH KAMANI
UCA SUMMER CAMP ASSISTANT  DIRECTOR
(Canada)

My name is Farrah Kamani and I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. I am completing my degree in Political Science with a specialisation in Social Policy and a minor in Criminal Justice and Astronomy. I am a huge movie buff and loyal Toronto Raptors fan. I love to run, dance, hike, travel and read. I have worked in fashion since I was 16 and am a lover of the arts (I come from a family of artists) and philosophy. Youth development and camps are very near and dear to my heart as I have been involved with various summer programmes over the last eight years, serving in a multitude of positions. I have been very privileged in my opportunities to serve in communities and this opportunity is no different! I am a strong believer in the voice of civil society and truly believe in the values that encompass global plural citizenship. I am excited and intrigued to learn from all of you and our awesome students in the weeks ahead. I look forward to meeting everyone this summer and creating what I know will be a memorable and transformative summer.

MALIKA GILES
UCA SUMMER CAMP PROGRAMME MANAGER
(United Kingdom)

My name is Malika Giles. I was born in London, and have lived in England, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkey. I completed my primary school education in Bishkek and my secondary education in London. I graduated from University College London, where I majored in History, and spent most of my free time writing for the University newspaper. After graduating, I spent a few months doing freelance news reporting in southern Turkey, and then began working in international development, for organisations including the Institute of War and Peace Reporting and the International Development Law Organisation. I joined the University of Central Asia last year. I have worked on the development of the UCA Summer Camp since its inception. I enjoy travelling reading and writing, and have visited many countries including Nepal, Egypt, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. I am already planning my next backpacking trip across Russia. I speak English, Russian, Spanish and French.

NAZGUL SULIMAINOVA
UCA SUMMER CAMP HEAD OF ADMINISTRATION (Kyrgyzstan)

My name is Nazgul. I live in Bishkek and work with the University of Central Asia’s Academic Affairs team. After finishing with High School #61, I majored in International and Chinese Studies at the Institute for Public Policy. I am interested in working in social projects and non-governmental or non-profit organisations. During college, I tutored high school students in English and maths, which planted the seed for my passion of working with youth. I first worked for a microfinance association, but my passion for working with youth prevailed and I looked for work at an educational institution and was offered a job at the American University of Central Asia Financial Aid Office. Working in different sectors has given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge. I have volunteered for more than eight years with various foreign programmes and camps on literacy, gender equality and teaching English to underprivileged children. These helped me develop a non-judgmental attitude and empathy. I respect altruism, honesty, simplicity, integrity and courtesy.

Camp Teachers

SAMINA LAKHANI
ENGLISH TEACHER
(United States of America)

Samina is a professional teacher from the United States, and currently teaches Grade 8 General Science in Dallas, Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Master of Arts in Education, specialising in Curriculum and Instruction, from Nova Southeastern University. Over the last eight years as a teacher, Samina has gained experience in teaching content and skills to students who are learning English as a second language, as well working with students with learning disabilities and those who are gifted and talented. Samina is an active volunteer in her community.

TRISTAN CARDWELL
ENGLISH TEACHER
(Canada)

I wanted to introduce myself and tell you how excited I am to be a part of UCA's Summer Camp. I am enjoying spending three weeks with each and every one of you. So, some things about me: I attended McGill University, and graduated with a degree in International Development and Environmental Studies. After graduation, I hit the road. I volunteered for a women's empowerment organisation in Tanzania, spent a year and a half teaching English in Taiwan, and explored the beautiful country of New Zealand! For the past year and a half, I have been employed as a Seasonal Trips Facilitator for the Canadian social enterprise, Me to We. In my role as facilitator, I have taken groups of student volunteers on trips to Nicaragua and Ecuador. During our trips, we work on building projects alongside local communities, and explore the challenges and opportunities of the countries we are visiting. More recently, I graduated from the TESL Certificate programme at Seneca College. This certificate will allow me to continue teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), a career I discovered in Taiwan and have dreamt about ever since.

FLORENCE COLZY
ENGLISH TEACHER
(France)

My name is Florence Colzy. I am a French citizen and live in Paris. As a child, I lived in Tahiti and New Zealand. I studied English at university in Paris and in Oklahoma, USA, and obtained a degree in French-English comparative linguistics. I have worked in various fields, including training and education, publishing, communications, industry and humanitarian aid (in Africa). My longest experience consisted in working at an international automotive components company called Valeo. As the Training and Internal Communications Manager, I was in charge of implementing Valeo's corporate culture and operational strategy at its sites worldwide. I am open-minded, love to laugh, learn and share my knowledge with others. I enjoy travelling, getting to know people, and discovering new countries and cultures. In my spare time, I like to read, swim, act, dance, play steel drums, go horseback riding and watch movies. Hopefully, we'll have the opportunity to experience some of these activities together. I have never been to Central Asia and I am thrilled to be here with you!

BUNYOD TUSMATOV
MATHEMATICS TEACHER
(Tajikistan)

Bunyod is a graduate from Earlham College, USA, where he received a BA in Economics and Mathematics. Prior to that, Bunyod was a student at United World Colleges in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and represented Central Asian history and culture in different international events. While studying at Earlham College, he worked as a teaching assistant for calculus classes and helped his peers to learn mathematics. After graduating, Bunyod moved to Philadelphia and worked as a Financial Analyst for RBC Wealth Management (now Cordasco Financial Network), where he gained valuable experience in the capital markets. In 2015, Bunyod returned to Tajikistan and started working for RISK Tajikistan as an Assistant Project Manager. In addition to his full time job, Bunyod works as an SAT instructor at American Councils in Dushanbe and helps young students to learn mathematics. Bunyod loves spending time with his family and friends. He also enjoys football, volleyball and fishing. His favourite computer game is Counter-Strike.

VICTORIA IVANENKO
ENGLISH TEACHER
(Tajikistan)

I am Victoria Ivanenko from sunny Tajikistan! I live in a very beautiful city - Dushanbe. My life motto is "Study, study, study!" I graduated from the Department of Linguistics, Faculty of the English Language at Russian-Tajik Slavonic University in 2004. I was lucky to study at the Aga Khan Humanities Project from 2005 to 2007, and I finished several interesting courses there, such as Kinship and Gender, Art as Appreciation and Historical Research Methods. I have been teaching English since 2004, and have worked at the Aga Khan Humanities Project and Russian-Tajik Slavonic University. Currently, I work as an English teacher at the University of Central Asia. I teach Business English, Academic English, TOEFL and Conversational English. I am keen to develop different activities for classes and conducting discussion clubs for students. My hobbies are listening to music, reading detective stories, and gathering recipes on beauty and health. I adore art and literature. I like learning new things about different cultures.

Camp Counsellors

AISULUU KUDAIBERDIEVA
Camp Counsellor  
(Kyrgyz Republic)

My name is Aisuluu. My friends call me Aya. I am from Kyrgyzstan. Currently, I am  a third year student in Busineess Administration at the International Ataturk-Alatoo University. I have participated in debate tournaments since I was in school, which makes me a confident presenter. Big progress starts from little steps.I've started running my own small business, organising children’s entertainment. So, sometimes I can be Spiderman or Batman. "Do what you love" is not just a phrase; it is my way of life. Understanding these words, I joined a fencing club. For four years, I trained to be a champion of Kyrgyzstan in fencing. And now, I am a champion. I know Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Russian, English and Turkish, and I am learning Spanish. I'm happy that my level of English helps me participate in different international conferences and meetings and enables me to teach English. I love watermelons and travelling.

ALASDAIR ANDERSON
Camp Counsellor
(United Kingdom)

Since finishing Edinburgh University a couple of years ago, I spent time doing projects related to bicycles, increasingly with young people. In 2013 and14, I spent six months working with the European Union in Kyrgyzstan and teaching English to Kyrgyz students. I now help lead a youth group, and in my spare time, am a member of a singing group, I enjoy dances, and am involved in setting up a community space where people can learn how to work with wood and metal. I enjoy sports and outdoor activities, such as hiking, climbing and biking.

ALY-KHAN BHAMANI
Camp Counsellor
(United States of America)

My name is Aly Khan! I grew up in Los Angeles but I now live in Chicago, where I attend university. Currently, I am preparing to go into my second year of college during which I must choose a major between maths, chemistry and molecular engineering. I really enjoy maths and science and have been teaching and tutoring in these subjects for the past five years! I'm a big fan of discussing philosophy, religion and politics and believe that there is much to be gained in such discourse. I'm currently working on a project funded by the United States Government which hopes to bring industry and science closer together so that scientific breakthroughs can have an immediate impact on the general population. I really enjoy swimming, football and reading. Also, whenever I get free time, I try to learn a little bit of a new language and then try to read a book in that language. I'm really excited to meet every one of you and hope that we have a great camp experience!

AMYNA FIDAI
Camp Counsellor
(Canada)

My name is Amyna Fidai and I currently live in Calgary, Canada. I was born in Karachi, Pakistan and I lived there for seven years. Then, I moved to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania for about six years before finally moving to Calgary in 2005. I graduated from the University of Calgary with an Honours degree in Health Sciences in 2014. I recently completed a semester in Nursing and I will be starting medical school at the University of Calgary in July 2015. My favourite subject is maths, and since I couldn't get enough of it after high school, I decided to become a maths tutor. Some of my interests include acting, reading and traveling. I love watching live theatre and the only thing I love more than that is food! I am passionate about working with youth and have worked with students of all ages in after-school programmes and summer camps. I am very excited to be a Camp Counsellor for the UCA Summer Camp. I am looking forward to experiencing the rich and diverse culture in Central Asia, and to connecting with the youth and learning.

DAVIS COOPER
Camp Counsellor
(Austria)

My name is Davis Cooper and I live in Vienna, Austria. I graduated from a multimedia and design school in 2009 and have worked as a web designer for more than three years. I attended university to study biology and medicine, but after a year and a half decided to earn a living and postpone my studies. In my spare time I enjoy playing basketball and Frisbee, swimming and many other outdoor activities, but whenever the weather is bad I do like watching movies or television series at home, playing chess and strategic computer games as well as reading science fiction stories and experimenting with Photoshop. I have a younger brother and sister and cousins who live all over the world. This will not be my first trip to Central Asia. I visited my extended family in Tajikistan in 2006 and again recently in Kyrgyzstan. Although this is not my first summer camp as a Camp Counsellor, I'm definitely very excited since it's my first camp outside of Austria and meeting new people is exciting too! I'm looking forward to getting to know you all this summer and I'm sure that we’ll have a great time

FIRUZA UMAROVA
Camp Counsellor
(Tajikistan)

I am Firuza from Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Upon completing school, I did an exchange year in Alaska, USA with the FLEX programme. Later, I studied Economics at Tajik National University and worked in the development sector for almost three years. I have organised and implemented many seminars and camps for school students throughout Tajikistan, which I have enjoyed a lot. I have also participated in quite a few international youth conferences. My favourite classes in school were geometry and mathematics. I like reading classic novels and am very passionate about art. I go to the studio of a famous Tajik artist once a week to learn the basics of painting and sketching. I enjoy bicycling and like hiking. I love meeting new people. I am looking forward to the UCA Summer Camp and being able to meet many talented students from Central Asia. I believe this camp is going to be a great opportunity for everyone to learn, share and have fun.

KHALID KESHAVJEE
Camp Counsellor
(Canada)

My name is Khalid Keshavjee and I'm from Calgary, Canada, home of the Calgary Flames. While I was born and raised in the west of Canada, I study Political Science and Global Development at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario near Toronto and Montreal. Currently, I am finishing my third year studying abroad in Rabat, Morocco. Through this experience, I've had the opportunity to travel the world and develop an appreciation for different cultures and ways of life. Because Calgary is right near the Rocky Mountains, I love to ski, hike and generally spend time outdoors. I am also an avid hockey and football fan. When I am not outside, I love to read, spend time with friends and jam out to music! French novelist Andre Gide once said, Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. This is a quote that reminds me not only to have the courage to do new things every day, but to put everything I have into it. With this in mind, I am incredibly excited to make this summer an unforgettable experience for all.

QASIM  PIRANI
Camp Counsellor
(Canada)

Hey everyone! My name is Qasim Pirani and I'm from Toronto, Canada. I'm 18 years old and I just finished my first year of university studying business at the University of Western Ontario. My favourite hobby is playing soccer. I also love to listen to music, play video games and hang out with friends. I attended summer camp almost every year growing up so I'm dying to go back. I am so happy to meet all of you. Camp is going to be an awesome time!

VALENTINA KHOMENKO
Camp Counsellor
(Kyrgyz Republic)

I was born in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, and spent 17 years living and studying in my home city. My life was pretty busy. I went to a music school to learn the guitar and graduated with honours in 2007. Then I realised that a musical career was not for me, so I started learning English intensively and dreaming about becoming exchange student in the USA. At the same time, I studied hard at my high school and participated in the City and Regional Olympics. I represented my school in maths but, unfortunately, each time I took 3rd place (which is still good :). In addition to all of that, I played volleyball for the city and represented my high school at different athletic events, including running, long-jumping and playing toguz-korgol, the Kyrgyz national game. In 2010, my dream came true; I became a finalist of the FLEX Programme and went to Colorado, USA, to spend my exchange year which made a huge impact on my life. I received a full scholarship to study Business Administration at the American University of Central Asia. In 2013, I became an exchange student in Norway. Now I am about to graduate from university and start my professional life.

Janygul Kaparova
Camp Counsellor
(Kyrgyz Republic)

Hello everyone, my name is Janygul Kaparova and I’m a 21 year old senior student with the American University of Central Asia. I was born and raised in Kyrgyzstan. Currently, I study international law, mainly focusing on human rights. I’m a very energetic and ambitious person, and I try to put my 100 % energy and efforts in everything I do. I love reading, arts, extreme sport, music and of course, travelling. In 2011 I got a chance to be an exchange student to Michigan State, USA, through the FLEX programme, and so far I have visited countries such as Italy, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Russia and Kazakhstan.  Since I graduated from high school, I have joined various non-profit and non-governmental organisations and have been involved in many different projects on youth development. I also love to meet new people and make new friends! I am fortunate to be a part of the UCA Summer Camp team and am so glad this is turning out to be the best part of my summer this year!