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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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In the spotlight : Turkmen film crew interviews A&M leaders, professors about agriculture

In early April, a film crew from Turkmenistan came to Texas A&M because the U.S. State Department told them it was the best school in the U.S. to be educated on what would be most beneficial in improving their country.
Turkmenistan’s economy is based on agriculture, animals and petroleum. The students came to A&M to learn about the things that make up their economy and then apply the knowledge to advance their country.
“[They were] here to revitalize their higher education system,” said Tom Hughes, the deputy director of communications in the division of marketing and communications at A&M. “They choose A&M since the state department recommended is since [we] have all three [they need], agriculture, petrol engineering and the veterinary school.”
The film crew included three Turkmen: a producer and interviewer, a cameraman and an interpreter. There was also a U.S. State Department representative with the crew.
“They had a terrific time here,” Hughes said. “They were fascinated with all their interviews, especially with the vet school.”
Hughes said the film crew was impressed with restaurants and particularly enjoyed the barbecue.
“We brought them there for lunch on Saturday and they went back on Sunday,” he said.
During their time at A&M, the film crew was able to talk with deans and professors, and was welcomed by Student Body President Mark Gold, Hughes said.
“I am real proud of the faculty at A&M for making themselves available to the television crew,” he said. “They were amazed they were able to talk with deans and faculty.”
The film crew also talked with two sisters from Turkmenistan who go to A&M, Leyla and Nargiza Jumayeva.
“The interview went very well,” Leyla Jumayeva said. “We were very excited to have people visit us from our country. We gave information and shared our experience here at Texas A&M with the crew. We hope that students in Turkmenistan will find out more about our great institution.”
The film crew wanted to know not just about the sisters’ lives at A&M and their goals.
“They asked us many questions starting from student life, to courses that I’m taking right now and about my future plans,” Nargiza Jumayeva said. “We gave interviews in both Turkmen and English.”
Both sisters said they are glad to have the other one at A&M with them.
“Having my sister here with me is the biggest reward I can ask for,” Leyla Jumayeva said. “Being in the foreign country, going to foreign school and being far away from home is not easy. Coming to A&M was the biggest accomplishment for both of us. Our parents are very proud of us and seeing her grow looking up to me and following my footsteps makes me feel a proud big sister.”
However, the choice to go to A&M was an easy one for them.
“I chose A&M because of its world class education, its inspiring traditions and its diversity on campus,” Nargiza Jumayeva said. “I’m very glad and lucky to be part of A&M.”
“A&M was the first American university we got exposed to when we moved to the U.S.,” Leyla Jumayeva said. “I learned more and more about it and thought this is where I belong. I love A&M’s rich traditions, its diversity and the quality of education.”
Leyla Jumayeva said they got involved with the project when a producer from the State Department, who worked with the crew, found out through the Turkish Student Association there were Turkmen students at A&M.
“It was really sudden and unexpected,” Nargiza Jumayeva said. “They contacted my sister and then she told me about it, and that’s how I got involved. They told us a month ahead that they were coming to College Station. First, they thought it was only her attending A&M, but then my sister introduced me in to the project.”
A&M used to have a partnership with Turkmen State University, the largest higher education institute in Turkmenistan, but it ended when the country’s government policies changed. Another hope for the film crews’ presence at A&M was to change that.
“I don’t know [if it was reformed] but they did meet with Dr. Ed Price of the Borlaug Institute,” Hughes said. “[We] hope it will start back up.”
Price is the associate vice chancellor and director of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture. The Institute is part of the A&M system. Its mission statement is “to employ agricultural science to feed the world’s hungry, and to support equity, economic growth, quality of life, and mutual respect among peoples.”
Leyla Jumayeva said she might return to Turkmenistan after she has graduates.
“I see myself going back home and using my knowledge that I gained here,” she said. “Sharing my experience and helping our country in the future.”
The film crew went to Albuquerque, N.M. because there are several families from Turkmenistan in that area. The crew was going to see what American life is like and visit state and national parks.
A&M was the only school the film crew visited during their stay in the U.S.
A brief look at Turkmenistan• Turkmenistan is located in central Asia, surrounded by Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
• Turkmenistan was a part of the Soviet Union until its collapse
• Turkmenistan gained its independence in 1991

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