From debates to gaming industry

IDEA CA empowers young people through debates and critical thinking. It attracts the youth from Central Asia and from other corners of the world, helping them form a community and share their experiences. Andrey Platonov is a debate enthusiast from Saint Petersburg, Russia who participated in IDEA International Aitmatov Debate Academy (IADA) in 2012-2013. His first exposure to debates had been through school debates that were organized by IDEA. Later on, Andrey formed a debate club in Saint Petersburg State University where he studied Political Sciences; he also taught debate skills to other university students and was involved in organizing debate tournaments.

Currently, Andrey works as a senior product owner at Gaming Innovation Group, a gaming company in Copenhagen that has offices in a number of European countries. He is in charge of the development of software projects. “This job is mainly about understanding how things work, listening to stakeholders and ensuring clear and efficient communication. Basically, it is about communication and debating skills,” - Andrey has said.

Andrey credits IDEA for empowering him through critical thinking, public speaking, argumentation, communication skills and the ability to collaborate with people from various backgrounds. IDEA International Aitmatov Debate Academy (IADA) was also his first main exposure to an international environment. The main purpose of the Academy is to provide participants with the skills to express their ideas confidently, to think critically, to check information, to argue and defend their position civilly, to promote the initiatives of their organization, and to bring together a bigger audience to solve real-life problems of their communities.

“When I heard about the IDEA camp in Kyrgyzstan I really wanted to go there to get connected with Central Asian debate community and of course to share my experience with others. Apart from improving my skills and enhancing my knowledge, this experience has given me a shared sense of comradery with other debaters. I truly felt that all debaters around the world form a community, where all people are friends and will always support each other and will always find something to discuss.”

Author: Aisha Jabbarova, intern at IDEA CA 

IDEA helps its alumni with career goals

IDEA CA continues to empower young people in the Central Asia region and turns them into valuable members of their communities.

Ulzhan Smadiyar (23) is from Kazakhstan and attended IDEA International Aitmatov Debate Academy (IADA) in 2013. The IADA was launched in Kyrgyzstan in 2010 and provides its participants with the skills to express their ideas confidently, to think critically, to check information, to argue and defend their point of view in a civilized way, to promote the initiatives of their organization, and to bring together a bigger audience to solve real-life problems of their communities.

The debate academy was a turning point in Ulzhan’s career as it taught her critical thinking, confidence, ability to debate, along with other important soft skills that are mainly left out of school curriculum in the Central Asia region.

“Debates helped me in my professional career. Although I was engaged in debates for less than a year, they taught me critical thinking, courage and many other things.”

After graduating from the academy, Ulzhan returned to Almaty and became a co-founder of "СпасиBeaucoup" language school. Today, the school teaches 16 languages, gives travel opportunities to its students and helps them to study abroad. Ulzhan says that the aim of the school is to “promote the establishment of a new generation of world citizens”. The next goal for "СпасиBeaucoup" is to open free debate clubs to equip young people with necessary soft skills.

“Debates will help young people to gain more self-confidence and fulfill their career goals,” Ulzhan is convinced.

Author: Aisha Jabbarova, intern at IDEA CA 


“IDEA CA has the power to strengthen Central Asian youth and develop civil society in the region,” shared Manuchekhr Ruziyev, a participant from one of IDEA CA’s workshops.

Manuchekhr Ruziyev, who attended a media camp in 2016, is  25-years-old and from Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. The media camp brought together dozens of young people from across Central Asia to teach them media skills such as blog and report writing and other social media skills.

“My two weeks at the media camp gave me more skills and knowledge than my three years of journalism classes at the Russian-Tajik Slavonic University. The quality of media camp was very high. No matter how tired we were, we would look forward to waking up early morning every day to attend the camp,” Manuchekhr said.

Manuchekhr stressed that IDEA CA’s media camp was a turning point in the lives of the young people who participated in it.

“A lot of young people who attended the media camp changed. They became more active - they are involved in interesting projects, including civil society activism. The media camp gave a sense of direction to those who did not know how to realize themselves in life and how to express their ideas. It pushed them into deciding what they wanted to do with their lives. We established a network among ourselves and we often get together in different parts of the world,” Manuchekhr said. He stressed the importance of IDEA CA workshops Tajikistan in particular, saying that there are gradual changes in his country thanks to such initiatives.

Manuchekhr added that the skills he acquired during the media camp have been extremely useful and have helped him in his career. Manuchekhr currently works as a photographer and the production director at a firm that he recently established. He makes videos and photos for customers and wants to improve as a documentary filmmaker in the future.

Kristina Dautova is alumni of one of media camps organized by IDEA CA, a youth organization that develops critical thinking among the Kyrgyz and Central Asian youth by means of a wide range of extracurricular activities.

Kristina is from Kazakhstan and joined the media camp in 2016 after completing a university degree in Journalism.

“Media camp 2016 opened new opportunities for me - it taught me new practical skills in journalism, allowed me meet people from different countries. I gained self-confidence – I started believing that I can succeed in any sphere of mass media. Three years have passed since I attend the camp. I have changed a lot but that fire that was put in me, still burns,” Kristina says.

After the media camp Kristina did internship at a local TV channel in Kazakhstan, worked in a newspaper for a short period of time and ended up hosting a morning program in Kazakhstan’s Altay TV.

“The camp had a very rich program. It included debates, seminars in journalism, photojournalism and many other things! It offered various master classes, webinars and competitions. IDEA CA had a positive contribution to my career as it was directly linked to my profession as a journalist. Suggestions given by the trainers help me in my current job to some extent,” Kristina says.

“Media camp taught me how to correctly use media sources and most importantly it taught me the importance of verifying sources and details while reporting. Moreover, I learned about debates. Debates help me in my daily life,” Kristina added. She says that she was also impressed by a master class in photography offered during the camp.

Kristina believes IDEA CA is good for networking among media representatives in the region. “Today, there is lack of exchange of experience among journalists across the CIS countries. IDEA CA helps journalists from different countries come together and build a network,” she says.