Silk Road Communities in the US


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Left to Right: 1) Vladimir Fedorenko, President of the Tajik American Cultural Association (Tajik) 2) Aizada Azhymbekova, MBA candidate at Virginia International University (Kyrgyz) 3) Elshan Rasulov, Turkic American Alliance staff for Azeri Communities (Azeri) 4) Navbahor Imamova, International Broadcaster at Voice of America (Uzbek) 5) Dr. Fevzi Bilgin, Executive Director of the Rethink Institute (Moderator) 6) Nariman Utemissov, Director of the Shanyraq Kazakh Foundation (Kazakh) 7) Almaz Kurbanow, MD, Research Fellow at University of Cincinnati (Turkmen) 8) Dr. Faruk Taban, President of Turkic American Alliance (Turkish)

In this panel organized by the Turkic American Alliance (TAA), the audience heard from distinguished representatives of various Silk Road communities in the United States, including Tajik, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Turkish and Azeri. The panelists discussed the origins and goals of their respective diaspora communities, as well as each of their successes, accomplishments, and areas for improvement.

Composed of citizens from Central Asia, Anatolia and the Balkans, the Turkic American community holds a unique place in the United States. The Turkic American community first became visible in the American society after the 1960s. From its early arrivals, to the wave of migrants following the collapse of the Soviet Union and economic reforms in Turkey, to those who continue to arrive today, members of the Turkic diaspora community have founded organizations in order to preserve their cultural heritage while helping newcomers with the integration process. New York, the metro D.C. area, Chicago and Los Angeles were among the first cities to attract thousands of Turkic Americans.

The Turkic American community first founded small cultural centers to address the needs of the community, such as weekend schools for their children, ESL classes for the adults, and festivals for the community at large to share the beauty of the Turkic culture. As the Turkic American community grew in size, so did the scope, number and type of organizations serving the community, including private schools, dialogue centers and business associations. Today, there are an estimated 500,000 Turks living in the United States (according to figures from the 2010 U.S. Census).

Established in 2010, the Turkic American Alliance is the largest national Turkic organization in the United States, representing six regional federations and over 240 community associations, cultural and dialogue centers, business chambers and education institutions. TAA functions as a powerful advocate for dialogue not only between the Turkic American and American communities, but also among the Turkic states—Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan—and the United States.

The Rethink Institute is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution devoted to deepening our understanding of contemporary political and cultural challenges facing communities and societies around the world, in realizing peace and justice, broadly defined. The Institute pursues this mission by facilitating research on public policies and civic initiatives centering on dispute resolution, peace building, dialogue development, and education.

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Turkic American Alliance event “Silk Road Communities in the United States”. Left to Right: -Nariman Utemissov, Director of the Shanyraq Kazakh Foundation (Kazakh) -Elshan Rasulov, Turkic American Alliance staff for Azeri Communities (Azeri) -Vladimir Fedorenko, President of the Tajik American Cultural Association (Tajik) -Navbahor Imamova, International Broadcaster at Voice of America (Uzbek) -Dr. Fevzi Bilgin, Executive Director of the Rethink Institute (Moderator) -Dr. Faruk Taban, President of Turkic American Alliance (Turkish) -Aizada Azhymbekova, MBA candidate at Virginia International University (Kyrgyz) -Almaz Kurbanow, MD, Research Fellow at University of Cincinnati (Turkmen)

For more information please visit turkicamericanalliance.org.