After receiving a scholarship from UKIC’s Asia Center, Holsapple spent the summer of 2011 studying at the London School, a language institute in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital.
“Central Asia always stood out to me as an area fascinating in terms of its sundry blend of cultures, languages and spheres of interest. Without a doubt the most democratic Central Asian state, Kyrgyzstan struck me as the perfect place to study,” she said.
In Kyrgyzstan, Holsapple lived with a local host family while she studied Russian.
“Though when most people hear ‘Russian,’ they immediately think of Moscow or St. Petersburg, there is overwhelming diversity in terms of the places where Russian is still a predominant language,” she said.
Holsapple’s immersion experience helped her master the Russian language which enabled her to acquire a position in Kyrgyzstan after graduating from UK with a degree in International Studies in August 2012. Employed by the American Councils for International Education, a non-profit organization funded by the U.S. State Department, she serves as a recruiter for the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program. FLEX provides high-school students from post-Soviet countries the opportunity to study in America for an academic year.
Holsapple lives in a city called Bishkek but often travels throughout Kyrgyzstan to conduct tests and interviews as part of the selection process for FLEX. “In my four months here, I’ve completed testing with around two thousand Kyrgyz kids and done personal interviews with over two-hundred and fifty,” she said.
She has enjoyed the work she has been conducting with American Councils.
“It’s been fascinating and inspiring to have had the chance to meet and learn about the lives and dreams of so many diverse upcoming young people from all different regions of Kyrgyzstan.”
Holsapple is currently fundraising to work for Children of Shambala, a non-governmental organization that works to improve living conditions in the poorest regions of China and Thailand. Holsapple hopes to join them early next year, taking part in a fellowship program that would allow her to intensively study the local language and volunteer with humanitarian projects.
The Asia Center continues to offer financial support for students like Holsapple to have the opportunity to study abroad. Keiko Tanaka, the Director of the Asia Center, believes that UK should continue to send students to study in Asia.
“Asia is a dynamic region, which will increasingly play a critical role in global economy and politics,” Tanaka said. “College is the only period for most people to be able to develop communication skills in an Asian language and a foundational understanding about Asian societies and cultures. Participation in an education abroad program is the best way to acquire these skills and knowledge, which is why the Asia Center continues to offer study abroad scholarships.”
Holsapple is maintaining a blog to chronicle her experiences.