American University of Central Asia - AUCA - SPOTLIGHTS


Gorkem Atsungur, ES professor

"I hope there will be another 20 years of celebration of AUCA and a new generation of leaders!"

How did you become an AUCA professor?

Last year on the 20th of January one of my friends wanted to resign from his job because he had severe problems with his department. He was looking for another job. I was a member of an email group and I received a notice that the American University of Central Asia was looking to fill teaching positions in the Department of Law. I told my friend that it might be worth it to apply, but he said that he couldn’t find the website and asked to me to send him a direct link to the job posting. It was 2 in the morning and I was annoyed that I had to search for the AUCA website on Google. I opened the AUCA website, then clicked “employment opportunities” and found the advertisement. Just below it, I saw that they were also looking for teaching positions in the European Studies Department. I studied European Studies and European Politics and therefore I was very interested in the position. I decided to send an email to the Chair of the department, asking if the position was still available. I was sure that, in any case, they would not respond to my email, which would only disturb the Chair. Then at three o’ clock in the morning I wrote an email to the Chair of the department, Prof. Jdanova. I was quite sure that nobody would return my email. The reason being is that in Europe it’s very common to ignore emails, even those sent from people who graduated from the best universities. One hour later the Chair responded and I was in shock. Soon after I had made contact the official procedures and interviews started. (I applied, by the way, because my friend didn’t.) I was so excited even though I didn’t have any particular reason to be—all I knew is that I really wanted that job. It would be something new for me and I believed that I could contribute many new things to AUCA. And that’s my story. This is my second semester at AUCA, and I still cannot understand how time and all those procedures passed so quickly.

Tell us about your impressions about university or most memorable moment or special day

First of all, I am so happy to work at AUCA. Of course, when you compare it with Europe, we have some issues. But I knew this before coming to Kyrgyzstan, and as such I have never viewed these issues as real problems. My expectations were, and still are, very clear: there will be some students whom I love and there will be some students who will love me at this university. Teaching should be an interactive discipline. If there is no connection between the students and the instructors, then there cannot be any effective teaching. When my students say: “Teacher, Teacher, we wish you were here from the first day of our studies”, I feel so happy. I think today is one of the most memorable days at AUCA. Of course it’s impossible for me to forget my first day of working at AUCA. Even though there are all these unforgettable times, I still believe that every day of life should be special in some way. Even in just a second we can change our lives dramatically.

How studying, employment at AUCA did influence your life?

Before coming here I didn’t have that much information about Central Asia or Kyrgyzstan. Since August 2012 I have been learning many things. I believe that teaching is not about going to class and explaining boring, innumerable facts. There should be more than this. Even from my courses, my students and my colleagues, I still learn many new things each day. I benefit enormously and this isn’t easy to find. Moreover, I could not say that I was very happy last year. If you’re not happy at your job, then it definitely affect every aspects of your life. Almost everybody spends at least 7-8 hours a day at some kind of job. If you do not feel at peace and happy in your workplace, then life turns into a real torture. As I already mentioned, I am happy to teach at AUCA. Considering this, I can easily say that AUCA has had a positive influence on my life.

Tell us about yourself

I still cannot decide whether or not I am lucky. I have spent my life in many different countries: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Turkey, Bosnia, Kosovo, Romania and now Kyrgyzstan. It is great to learn about new cultures and languages, but at the same time it’s so difficult to leave them. Wherever you go you end up missing something from each country. I studied International Relations at Cyprus International University. After graduating, I went to Turkey and studied European Studies in a master’s program at Istanbul’s Bilgi University (in partnership with Leiden University in the Netherlands). At that time I wanted to get another Master’s in Europe. I wanted to try something different, so I started to search for a program that focused on something new. I had a lot of friends who studied either in France, the UK or in Germany. For this reason I wanted to choose a country which was not well known in my home country. As a result of this I went to the Czech Republic and got my master’s in Political Science and European Politics. After completion of my degree I decided to turn my attention back to Turkey and began to study Political Science and International Relations as a Ph.D. candidate. During that period I spent my time taking twelve Ph.D. courses and attending as many international academic conferences as I could. After my Ph.D. qualification exams, I started to teach at AUCA (that was in August of 2012). Most of my friends from Europe ask me: “What are you doing in the middle of nowhere?” I am happy to be in Kyrgyzstan and try to contribute on a small, if maybe unimportant level, in this beautiful country. I hope there will be another 20 years of celebration of AUCA and a new generation of leaders! We must believe this. If you do not believe in yourself, nobody believes in you…

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American University of Central Asia
7/6 Aaly Tokombaev Street
Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic 720060

Tel.: +996 (312) 915000 + Еxt.
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