Inam Khalfan’s Journey at GSD
Inam Khalfan served as a GSD intern during the summer of 2023. Born and raised in Calgary, Canada, Inam is a second-year undergraduate student in Health and Society at the University of Calgary.
“Going into my internship, I was excited to gain working experience in a culturally different environment while learning new things about myself and others from various backgrounds. I hope to pursue a career in international development so when I saw this position at the university working within the institutions, it looked perfect for me”, he shares.
During his time at GSD, Inam worked on diverse projects. He collaborated with the GSD’s Civil Society Initiative, creating a valuable database on health, climate change, and gender for future research. He also researched potential partner universities worldwide for a new GSD master's programme and gathered crucial data on agriculture imports and exports in Central Asia for the FAO project.
Beyond his internship duties, Inam took full advantage of his time in Kyrgyzstan. Exploring the country's breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture became an integral part of his experience. From visiting Naryn, a unique university campus nestled amidst the mountains, to exploring Al Archa National Park, horseback riding in Hyde Park, and thrilling rafting adventures, Inam's journey was an unforgettable tapestry of experiences.
"It's incredible to work for an organization so committed to improving lives through education and research," he reflects. Inam’s internship was a part of GSD visitors programme
Lorenz Eimansberger, GSD Visiting Student (University of Vienna)
I arrived to Kyrgyzstan at the beginning of August 2023. Ahead of me lay many months of exploration and discovery – both of this fascinating country itself, as well as my research topic. During my MA programme in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna, I developed a keen interest in the post-Soviet space, and especially Central Asia. So I decided to conduct the research for my thesis there, which was made possible through the Austrian KWA research stipend, as well as the University of Central Asia’s visiting student programme.
Through online research and talking to experts beforehand, I was made aware of the influence of external development projects on Kyrgyzstan’s tourism. The network of “community-based tourism” (CBT) organisations has been successfully operating in the country for decades, after being developed by the Swiss. My aim when coming here was to critically investigate what this “community” actually looked like – since this is a ubiquitous term often thrown around to make projects seem socially sustainable.
Quite soon into my research, however, I widened my gaze, also extending to those development projects and tourism workers that are outside of the CBT-network. Therefore, my research question also changed to incorporate the aspect of the exclusivity of any community. I found that in the last years, Kyrgyzstan’s tourism landscape has drastically changed due to the spreading of online-booking technologies and information about the country online, which in one sense make an aspect of the CBT’s superfluous, but on the other hand, also creates dependencies on these booking sites.
During my research, I was able to rely on the support of the UCA's GSD, as well as the contacts I got through working there. For instance, through the School of Continued and Professional Educaon (SPCE), I made crucial contacts with homestay owners in Naryn city, that had previously profited from one of their tourism trainings. Overall, this support made the task of my research less daunting. Also, the general curiosity and friendliness of the Kyrgyz people helped a lot. I am really grateful for my research time in Kyrgyzstan, which allowed me to form deeper connections to locals than I would have been able to if I had just travelled there on my own. Being invited into stranger’s homes, attending weddings and drinking Chai with shepherds is just a small part of what a research experience in Kyrgyzstan can look like!