Business Leaders, Librarians From Kazakhstan Visiting Fort Worth

Alan Scaia
June 21, 2019 - 1:20 pm
Fort Worth Kazakhstan

Alan Scaia

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DALLAS (KRLD) - A delegation from Kazakhstan will wrap up a visit to Fort Worth this weekend. The visit was set up through the "Open World" program, established by Congress in 1999 to help former Soviet republics establish governments and grow their economies.

"The things that differ us from each other are less than the things we have in common," says Aigerim Tleukhan, a librarian from Kazakhstan.

"You love meat. We adore meat, too," says fellow librarian Ainur Sembayeva. "Barbecue, these little things that connect us even though we're miles apart. Texans love and are proud of their cattle drives. They are very proud of their cowboys. Kazakhs also have cowboys, and we also have cattle and ranches. A lot of things we are proud of are similar to Texans."

Kazakhstan is about 7,000 miles from Texas.

Fort Worth Sister Cities organized the trip. President Mae Ferguson says Kazakhstan has access natural resources, so the trip can help the nation look at how Texas has capitalized on oil production.

"This is a great economic opportunity to help their country grow," she says. "They have a lot of natural resources and oil, but that was never developed in Kazakhstan."

Participants have been staying with host families in Fort Worth. They stopped at libraries and community centers to learn how they operate. They also visited TCU, Texas A&M Law School and UNT Health Science Center.

Prior to coming to Fort Worth, participants stopped in Washington D.C. and met with Congressman Marc Veasey.

Sembayeva says the visit also served as a chance for people from Central Asia to set up an identity separate from Soviet Russia.

"It's not only us learning American culture, it's also Americans learning our culture," she says. "When you see the post-Soviet countries, you might only see Russia and Ukraine, but then you see us and the Central Asian countries. We have such diverse backgrounds."

Sembayeva and Tleukhan compared the differences between regions of Kazakhstan to the differences between Dallas and Fort Worth.

"Should a delegate from Dallas come to Fort Worth for a week?" they said, laughing. "We heard about the rivalry and thought, 'Hey, just do the exchange!'"