Summer school on the Role of Traditions in Modern Forms of Self-organization, 2010

Dates:             14-19 June 2010
Venue:            Ak Tash Mountain Resort
Languages:     English, Kyrgyz, Russian

This year, the Fire Ceremony was preceded by a summer school on the Role of Traditions in the Modern Forms of Self-Organization, university students being the main participants of this seminar. Aigine CRC recruited students from different universities and regions. We also recruited local NGO representatives and independent researchers. The publicity campaign was carried out on a large scale; the selection process was quite competitive and was conducted in 3 rounds.

Bringing together traditional practitioners from Africa, Altai, America, Guatemala, Japan, Korea and young people of Kyrgyzstan was a unique chance to bridge cultures, experiences and different approaches to life. Practitioners were able to transmit their knowledge and highlight importance and relevance using traditional wisdom in our lives today. It is certain that younger generations are getting detached from nature and starting to build a society where traditional knowledge does not represent much value. The main goal of the summer school was to search for ways of using traditions and traditional knowledge in self-organization of local communities in contemporary Kyrgyz society.

Each guest from aforementioned countries made two presentations on what role traditions play in their societies and how they use traditions in organizing their everyday life. Local practitioners, scholars, researchers were also asked to make presentations on the situation in Kyrgyzstan. By drawing information from presentations of the international and local lecturers and dynamic discussions, participants were able to conceptualize what is self-organization of community and what role traditions can and do play in contemporary society. The summer school consisted not only of theoretical part, but also of spiritual and practical parts. There were various rituals, ceremonies, komuz playing, “Manas” recitation and national dances by the fire. Fascinating and breathtaking dance by Japanese shaman, Tsuru, took place one of the evenings. The dance was displayed in Kyrgyzstan for the first time and it left a profound spiritual impact on all those who observed the dance.

Presentations by Zhumagazy Sadyr uulu, chair of PA “Arysh” were also of great importance. He shared some information about self-support groups they work with, and how they use traditions and traditional knowledge in self-organizing these groups. This example was a perfect case study on how can traditions be used and work in the modern world. The information he provided was exceptionally interesting for our young participants, and some of them admitted their lack of knowledge in this field. Information provided by Elmira Nogoibaeva during her lecture about selection of biys – traditional judges brought to life new facts and led to a dynamic discussion. Exceptionally interesting were lectures by Dr. Emil Shukurov and Chynara Seidakmatova, who approached this subject from a different angle and encouraged participants to think creatively and critically, and to be selective in choosing what traditions to revive and use.

We deeply believe that the seminar and close interaction with practitioners invoked young participants’ interest to look deeper into their traditions and think creatively. Participants became aware of other cultures, traditions and most importantly broadened their tolerance towards the other cultures. Bringing together people of different ethnicities, groups and beliefs gives way for mutual understanding, harmony and motivation.

Based on the discussions during five days of the summer school, scholar Emil Shukurov and NGO chair Jumagazy Sadyr uulu wrote their reflections in the form of an article that tangle many important issues.