Matt Kupfer '12 helps train young women leaders in Kyrgyzstan
His 'Tech-Age Girls' film was made in Bishkek for international NGO IREX
Matt Kupfer ’12, who is majoring in anthropology and international and global studies, was looking into AIDS prevention efforts in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, when a wave of ethic violence erupted there in mid-June, sending masses of minority Urbeks fleeing from the Kyrgyz majority.
Kupfer escaped to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, where he now is working for the Kyrgyz branch of the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), an international non-profit organization focused on improving education and independent media and fostering civil society development in countries around the world.
He recently completed a film [click here to view it] as part of his work on a two-week IREX conference called "Tech Age Girls," in which young female leaders from high schools across Kyrgyzstan competed for entry into the conference by organizing community service projects, interviewing and blogging about female community leaders, and participating in technology trainings. The conference is intended to teach the girls information and communication technology skills necessary for taking leadership roles. Many of the girls are from rural regions of Kyrgyzstan and have learned almost everything they know about computers and technology through the program, which also hooked up Internet connections to many schools throughout the country and trained teachers to use the technology.
Kupfer working on a second short film, a brief documentary about the program, the girls involved, the roles of women in Kyrgyzstan, and the obstacles that prevent women from assuming more leadership roles.
IREX was originally created to facilitate exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Over time it has branched into other parts of the world. IREX receives funding from the U.S. State Department (as well as many other organizations), and has partnered on various projects with many universities, including Brandeis. IREX also works to promote closer ties between the United States and other countries through cultural and student exchanges.