Reflections on Washington

VIPP Bolashak legal scholars from Kazakhstan share their experiences in the nation's capital.

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Published: Monday, 27 Mar 2023 Author: Teresa Svec, Visiting International Professional Program

As the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. is a place of history and culture. It is also where much of our nation's legal rule-making takes place, and an exciting place to visit, especially for anyone with an interest in law who wants to be in "the room where it happens," to quote the Broadway musical Hamilton. MSU VIPP Bolashak legal scholars had the opportunity to do just that when they took a memorable trip to Washington, D.C. on March 8 - 11, 2023.

DC Trip Banner.jpegThe trip was organized by VIPP Program Coordinator Dr. Xiaoqing Chen, and the group was accompanied by Katie Pike, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations at MSU College of Law. The Visiting International Professional Program brings professionals and scholars from Kazakhstan to Michigan State University for innovative education opportunities via the Bolashak Program, the flagship scholarship program of the government of Kazakhstan. Hosted in collaboration with MSU College of Law, the VIPP Bolashak Law program is a course training and American cultural experience that provides participants with complete immersion into American law school culture, legal language, and the U.S. legal educational system to benefit their careers back in Kazakhstan.

The 6 Bolashak legal scholars are established professionals in their home country with diverse expertise and research interests including legal education, law enforcement, disability law, civil rights, international labor law, and alternative dispute resolution, with individual goals for bringing back new ideas and perspectives for their work in Kazakhstan. The group of lawyers arrived in the U.S. last summer, and the D.C. trip was a capstone of their time in the United States, and the opportunity to experience first-hand the institutions they have been learning about.

Through visits to important D.C. landmarks and institutions, they enjoyed learning more about the nation's history, diplomacy, politics, and law-making. Some highlights of the trip included visits to famous sites including the U.S. Kazakhstan Embassy2 re2.jpgCapitol, the U.S. Supreme Court, the National Mall, and the Library of Congress. A unique aspect of the trip was a special meeting at the Embassy of Kazakhstan with the Honorable Yerzhan Ashikbayev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States, as well as a visit to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a presentation on the role of lawyers in the regulatory process.

The scholars share in their own words their unique impressions of Washington, D.C., and reflect on their memories from the trip:

Dr. Rysgul Abilsheyeva

"Visiting state legal institutions is very important for learning the practice. This is an integral part of a professional internship. For this purpose, a trip to Washington was organized for law scholars. The trip was more educational. This gave us the opportunity to learn about the culture and history of the United States. It was very helpful to better understand the essence of the political and legal concepts of the founders, politicians who take a big role in the formation of the statehood of America. We expanded our knowledge base. I would like to especially note the visit to the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the USA. This shows the diplomatic literacy of the organizers. This meeting contributed to the improvement of further cooperation between Kazakhstan's universities and MSU."

Dr. Almaz Yeshnazarov

"Of course, we must remember that Washington is the capital of the USA! Domestic politics and geopolitics depend on the decisions of the White House and the U.S. Congress! I would especially like to note that visiting the memorials of U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln astounds you. You realized that you touched the history of the United States. The architecture of Washington is striking in both historical and modern buildings. The U.S. government is in various types and modern buildings, but the latter is striking in size. They are not just big they are huge. There are also no skyscrapers here, but this is hardly a plus than a minus for Washington."

Dr. Madina Yessirkepova

"Each attraction is unique, I studied a lot of useful material, got to know American culture through art, saw first-hand the monuments of great people who made a huge contribution to the life of America. A special place is occupied by the sights of Washington, these are museums. The concept of the museum is that people can study both art and history, modern music and culture, scientific discoveries in the field of space, mechanical engineering and so on in an accessible way. Many museums in Washington are free, which is a great indicator for the development of culture. The availability of an informative field is the most important and effective source of social development."

Dr. Zhaniya Kumarbekkyzy

"I will start by saying that the whole trip was carefully planned and well-organized. We visited the most famous places in Washington, such as the National Mall, where presidential memorials are located; the U.S. Supreme Court, the Capitol, the Library of Congress, etc. As a lawyer, all these locations are very important to me, I was able to see with my own eyes the places where laws are passed and where justice is carried out. In addition, I visited the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the USA, met with the Ambassador and we discussed the conditions of the internship and possible difficulties. I want to express my great gratitude to my coordinator Dr. Chen, the representative from the College of Law, Katie Pike, and VIPP for our trip. The trip will remain in my memory for a long time."

Dr. Yerbol Omarov

"I and Bolashak scholars had a trip to Washington DC from 8 till 11 March this year. I really had a great time. All trip issues were done very nice. VIPP booked hotel and flights. We had transfer from Spartan Village to Detroit airport. Also we had transfer by comfortable van in Washington, D.C. to/from all places we suppose to visit. The hotel provided us with air-conditioned rooms with a desk, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a shower. A nice breakfast was included. Visiting places were booked in advance. All the time we were accompanied by coordinators from VIPP - Dr. Chen, and College of Law - Katie Pike. They were very sensitive and supporting any issues. I had a wonderful time during the trip to Washington, D.C. Moreover, I found a lot of interesting things and got experience that would be useful in my project. I would like to thank VIPP and the College of Law for organizing the trip to Washington, D.C."

Dr. Alemgul Kuatova

"Firstly, I would like to sincerely thank the VIPP team for organizing my trip to the U.S. capital - Washington, D.C. - it was great! Due to this trip, I was lucky to see all the main sights of Washington, D.C. located on the National Mall - from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. It was very interesting to visit the Library of Congress, the Congress itself, the Supreme Court, and listen about their history. It was also remarkable to visit museums such as the National Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. Another interesting event was a visit to the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the USA. Special thanks to Dr. Chen for his responsible approach to the organization and kindness."

Learn more about the Bolashak program at vipp.msu.edu/bolashak.

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