In spite of the day off both in Nigeria and the Kyrgyz Republic, students from both countries were willing to have an online discussion that took place on May 3rd, 2021. Ekaterina Galimova, Professor of FYS and SYS, American University of Central Asia (AUCA), together with her colleague Mrs. Emilienne Akpan, Director of the Writing Center, from the American University of Nigeria (AUN), conducted the 4th Virtual Discussion between AUN and AUCA students devoted to The Effects of Social Media on the Youths.
It is worth mentioning that about one month prior to the online discussion students of both universities exchanged their introductory emails to get acquainted with each other. The Zoom meeting gathered around thirty freshmen and sophomores. The Virtual Discussion itself was comprised of several parts: the introduction, general discussion, small group discussion (held in Zoom Breakout Rooms), and the conclusion. The main aims of the online discussion were to motivate students to conduct their research at an international level, evolve their inter-cultural communication, listening comprehension, and research skills as well as provide students with the opportunity to make pen pals and connections to launch further student projects. No need to say that it was a completely student-centered activity; in other words, students were free to choose not only the date and time of the event but also the topic of the discussion by the simple majority. However, since there were other topics that students were eager to consider, the professors opted to save time for Breakout Room discussions and let AUCA students conduct their interviews. Actually, that was the distinctive feature that differed the 4th online discussion from the previous ones. The interviewers’ questions were mostly based on the students’ research (FYS) and video projects (SYS) that covered such up-to-date topics as Sexual Harassment led by Aiana Sharsheeva (ECO-119), Aizana Usupbaeva (ICP-119), and Hadisa Giyoeva (ECO-119), LGBT Issues run by Asel Dzhovozova (SFW-120), Gender Equality conducted by Batyrbek kyzy Aigerim (SOC-120), Customs and Traditions of the Postcolonial/Post-Soviet Period guided by Gulrukhsor Vanjieva (SFW-120) and Alima Kerimkulova (SOC-120), and Social Networks headed by Basira Attai (SFW-120), Nargis Kamran (SFW-120), and Bolot Bekturganov (BA-120). The data collected during the interviews would be analyzed and integrated into either students' research papers or video projects. Upon the completion of Virtual Discussion and interviews held in Zoom Breakout Rooms, the participants from both universities were invited to respond to the survey questions, the aim of which was to find out whether such online activities inspire students to delve deeper into the issues of their research. The results of the survey will be analyzed and reported later in the article.
It should be noted that the atmosphere at the Virtual Discussion was cordial; every participant was polite and diplomatic towards the speakers. Both students and professors relentlessly supported each other whenever it was necessary due to technical problems.
The professors wish to express their special thanks to Daria Baidakova (TCMA-120) and Gulrukhsor Vanjieva (SFW-120) , who kindly agreed to demonstrate their videos about Kyrgyzstan and the AUCA in the introductory part of the discussion produced earlier this academic year.