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“To Be or Not to Be” or Age is Just a Number

Jarkyn at the central asia regional consultations

They say: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Well, allow me to disagree with this proverb. Perhaps it is all Vladimir Lenin’s fault. Growing up in Kyrgyzstan in the Soviet times I remember being surrounded by banners quoting the famous communist leader’s words: “Learn, learn and learn”.  And these banners were everywhere – in kindergarten, school, and later in university. So, in a way, Lenin’s motto has sunk into my brain and made the desire to learn a continuous lifelong process for me.

The information about the Social Media training in Bishkek reached me in a miraculous way all the way from the Cambridge headquarters of Fauna & Flora International (FFI). This is an organization I work for. My Line Manager sent me a link and offered to apply. The application process was extremely easy and friendly. I was lucky to get a permission to be exempt from work for the entire duration of the training! How often does that happen?! And so the ball started rolling!

Once in the training, I found out more about the Global Conference on Agricultural Research (GCARD); the exciting work done by the Youth Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD); got registered as an YPARD member; and, learned more about GCARD 3 – the upcoming global conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.  And then I saw the application age limit of 39 years… Well, I turned 40 years old just four days ago, so I technically missed YPARD’s classification of a young person by a few months or even days. Upsetting to say the least!

After a long hesitation process and just a couple of hours before the deadline, I decided to give it a try and started working on my blog. I pictured it as a message put in a bottle and thrown into the sea. I thought: if it is meant to be, then my bottle will reach the shore and be discovered by someone.

I found all five major themes of GCARD3 interesting and relevant. However, as someone who has been passionately working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable livelihoods development for almost 10 years, I am particularly interested in theme 5: “Ensuring better rural futures”.

As a conservation organization working to protect rare and threatened species of animals and plants, FFI  believes that it is not right to put nature’s needs over people’s needs. For this reason it always makes sure to incorporate work with local communities into its project activities, be it training in gardening or beekeeping, a small grants program, or support of a communal fruit and nut drying facility. Special attention is paid to the needs of school children and youth through provision of training and organization of festivals.

I have very good verbal and writing skills in English and have a strong interest in Social Media. The training in Bishkek has lifted some covers on the use of social media tools for me. However, it is clear that the art of it is yet to be mastered through continuous practice. Over the years I have developed good verbal presentation, facilitation, and reporting skills, so I can actively contribute to the discussions at the GCARD3. I am prepared not only to learn from the event but also to provide necessary support where it is needed.

The lessons learned and experience gained at the GCARD3 global event will be undoubtedly useful for me, for FFI, and, above all, for the people in the Kyrgyz communities, where we do our work. There is always room for learning and sharing best practices and, whenever possible, applying them in the field, where it matters the most.

So, really, age is just a number when you are young at heart and full of passion for the work you do!

This blog post is part of the GCARD3 Youth blogpost applications. The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.

Photo credits: Nodar Tokhosashvili