Yu-Lin Shen interview
Mechanical Engineering Professor Yu-Lin Shen being interviewed for a local television program in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
Credit: Courtesy of Yu-Lin Shen

Mechanical Engineering Professor Yu-Lin Shen spent spring break in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan traveling as an Albuquerque ambassador for the Sister Cities Foundation program and talking about The University of New Mexico.

Shen taught a short class at the new International University for the Humanities and Development on “Computing and Modern Technologies” for freshman at the university. This is only the second year the university has existed.

Shen said students spent the first year learning English since classes are taught in English. The freshman class is now beginning to focus on specialized courses in computer and information technologies, business administration, economics, management, international law, sociology and journalism.

The university is seeking visiting teaching staff with a Ph.D. or other terminal degree or a Master’s Degree with extensive teaching experience. Retired university level faculty will also be considered.

Yu-Lin Shen presents a UNM pennant to officials at the International Universities for the Humanities and Development
Yu-Lin Shen presents a UNM pennant to officials at the International University for the Humanities and Development

“There are a small number of Americans living in the city, mainly on a visiting basis,” said Shen. ”When I spoke with some of them, they seemed happy to be there.” The U.S. State Department has some grant funding available for faculty willing to work in Turkmenistan.

The three-person Albuquerque delegation to Ashgabat, the capital city of Turkmenistan included Shen, Amy Christensen from Central New Mexico Community College and Russ Fisher-Ives from Inquiry Facilitators, Inc. The trip was sponsored by the U.S. State Department through the U.S. Embassy in Ashbabat, which is interested in furthering cultural and educational exchanges.

Shen said Ashgabet, a sister city of Albuquerque since 1990, has many similarities to Albuquerque. It is in a desert environment, an oasis city in the Karakum Desert on the ancient Silk Road, with nearby mountains and a multi-ethnic population of around one million.

The country declared independence from the former U.S.S.R. in 1991, but many citizens speak Russian as well as the local language. It has been rebuilt since a major earthquake in 1948 caused serious damage to the city. Today Ashgabat holds the record for the world’s highest concentration of white marble buildings.

Shen said he found that students in Ashyabat were interested in traveling to the United States to study in universities, and The University of New Mexico should be a fitting destination for them.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about possible faculty teaching opportunities can contact Amelia Meyer at ashgabat@albuquerque-sister-cities.org.