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Spotlight Series

Michigan State University's Global Youth Advancement Network (GYAN) introduces the Global Voices Spotlight Series as a next phase in GYAN's Global Voices brand, joining our Essay Contest and Webinar Series. This series provides a space for intergenerational conversation between young people and professionals devoted to meaningful global engagement and problem solving via research and outreach activities related to youth. Alongside recognizing contributions to youth-focused initiatives by members of the MSU Community in International Studies and Programs, and beyond, the interviews will include pointed advice from the interviewees to young people interested in pursuing their fields of study and career paths. Join in to hear voices from multiple perspectives on some of the world's most intractable challenges!

Eligible contributors to this series are:

  • MSU Students
  • MSU Faculty or Staff
  • MSU Alumni
  • Young Innovators
  • Industry Experts

If you would like to nominate yourself or a colleague to be interviewed in our Global Voices Spotlight series, please do so using the Global Voices Nomination Form.

In case you are between 18 and 35 years old and wish to become a youth interviewer, please fill out the GYAN Youth Volunteer Form. Or if you know of a motivated young person who would be a great fit, please reach out to gyaninfo(at)

Featured Spotlight: Dr. Kundyz Mukatayeva

Global Voices Spotlight features Dr. Kundyz Mukatayeva and Marialina Antolini’s conversation on global citizenship and intersections between Kazakhstani and Brazilian youth programming. Dr. Mukatayeva is an Institutional Coordinator for Academic Mobility at Toraighyrov University (Kazakhstan), currently a Bolashak Visiting Scholar at MSU. Marialina is a PhD student in Information and Media Studies at the Dept. of Journalism at MSU who has experience working in violence prevention and communication-related projects for youth in the Global South.


February 23, 2023

Abridged transcription of Dr. Kundyz Mukatayeva’s interview with Marialina Antolini.

MARIALINA: Hello, welcome to Global Voices Spotlight presented by GYAN. I’m Marialina Antolini, and here's our guest speaker for today: Dr. Kundyz Mukatayeva. To start off, I want to say thank you for coming. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your work?

DR. MUKATAYEVA: Hello, nice to meet you Marialina, and thank you for inviting me! Currently, I am part of the Visiting International Professional Program (VIPP) at MSU, and I want to share my experience about two educational programs in Kazakhstan: the first is “Bolashak”, translated as “Future” in English, allowing the younger generation to get a degree or take an internship in a foreign country; the second is Students’ Academic Mobility, allowing high-achieving students to study abroad for one semester or academic year.

MARIALINA: Can you share some results from the Students’ Academic Mobility program?

DR. MUKATAYEVA: As for the Kazakhstani context, from 2011 to 2021 there were around 18,000 exchange students in total; 1,000 of those were from Toraighyrov University. Additionally, I did a case study with 100 students from various fields of study who were studying in 11 different countries for a semester, and I found evidence that the program provided benefits that go beyond academic and professional development opportunities. Students reported having unforgettable life experiences that allowed them to broaden their worldviews, learn about different cultures, improve their social and communication skills, and gain awareness of global issues.

Dr. Mukatayeva says: "I understand that some students might be afraid of changing their study environment, but I would like to encourage youth to take advantage of these study abroad opportunities, so that they can learn to be more open-minded and respectful for other cultures."

MARIALINA: I agree! As an international student, I've experienced firsthand the amazing and fulfilling benefits of living abroad. Interacting with people from different backgrounds teaches us so much, and I’m so grateful that MSU's international environment honors such diversity, encouraging us to respect and appreciate differences even more.

DR. MUKATAYEVA: Indeed, studying abroad in an environment with students from diverse countries and ethnic groups fosters understanding and helps create a generation of global citizens. HEIs must train highly qualified specialists who are well-prepared to work in an international environment and uphold universal values. Today every aspect of life is influenced by globalization, and skills related to diverse cross-cultural contexts are so important nowadays!

MARIALINA: I think another key point that we should mention when thinking about studying in the U.S. is the importance of having English as a second language. What are your thoughts on that?

DR. MUKATAYEVA: Today there are so many tools available for international students and I want to share my personal experience of improving my English skills at MSU, through conversation clubs such as OISS Coffee Hour, Go Connect, Spartan International, Friendship House, and Lansing Community Learning Center.

MARIALINA: Thank you so much for being here and talking about your work. I wish you good luck with your future plans!

View the full interview on GYAN’s YouTube page.

Past Spotlight Interviews