The main goal is to unite and rally all sitizens of Kazakhstan around common values and promote interethnic and interfaith harmony.
As I landed in Astana in the snowy early morning hours on Sunday, I thought about how far away I was from home in NY and I wondered what I was doing here. After a couple hours of sleep, I went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast and saw a copy of the Astana Times, the largest English speaking newspaper in KZ. Two stories caught my attention and, in typical Intersections fashion, I connected the dotes and thought about a way to add value to my trip.
The headline of a front page story read, "Kazakh President Establishes Prize for Nuclear Weapons Free World and Global Security." On page five, another headline read, "Evidence of Ancient Assyrian Church Discovered in Kazakhstan," proving an ancient Christian connection among Muslim and Buddhist artifacts. The article contained the line, "the Kazakh government is very proud of its multicultural history." Since I am here as a member of the Presidium (planning committee) of the World Forum of Spiritual Culture (WFSC), and since Intersections is committed to both global peacemaking and multiculturalism, this single edition of the Astana Times seemed to validate the long trip required for my presence here.
Before I left NY, I was tasked with the assignment to write a blog about my trip for our Intersections newsletter. In light of the current issue of the Astana Times, I thought perhaps I could expand this assignment and draw together the WFSC, our upcoming tenth anniversary gala at which we are recognizing KZ ambassador Kairat Umarov and Intersections' commitment to world peace. I have already had two OpEds published in the Astana Times, thanks in large part to my friend Dana Masilimova. Perhaps with a bit of pressure from you all, an adaptation of my upcoming blog could be printed in the Astana Times, thereby drawing attention to the impact that the KZ government's peacemaking work is having in the US and the role that Intersections is playing in building bridges between our two countries half a world away.
Anyway, that is my plan. I am giving you all a heads up because you can each play a role in it and time is of the essence if this plan is to bear fruit.
I have free time tomorrow morning (Monday in Astana; Sunday evening in NY) to write this blog/OpEd. Betsy and Vanji, I will send it to you for editing, and if you could turn it around quickly, we could get a final copy to Dana, Mansur and Tolegen (all copied here) who could coordinate efforts to get it published while the WFSC is still in session (which runs through Tuesday evening, Astana time).
Just a thought, friends. I am simply giving you all a heads up. I will send a final draft about 24 hours from now. I am having some tech problems--of course I am!--with my laptop. This means I will need to send the final copy from my iPad which does not give me the same flexibility as my laptop, so editing will be important.
Not sure we can pull all these pieces together, and maybe it was just the euphoria caused from lack of sleep, but it seemed like a good connection of dots to make for a win-win-win situation, and therefore worth a shot.