Alif Khalfan has a motto that he applies to both his professional career at Disney and his TKN assignment at the University of Central Asia: “I’ll always be learning, and I’ll always be teaching.”
He was selected to participate with other field professionals as a teacher and mentor at the UCA Naryn Campus’ “Connecting Your Discipline” programme in May, which offered a series of engaging workshops, guest lectures, career panels, interactive activities, simulation and real world applications to help students navigate their undergraduate specialisations: Earth and Environmental Sciences, Computer Sciences, Economics and Communications and Media.
Though daunting at first to be in a new classroom with a multilingual group, Alif and his co-teacher Naki Taiirova, a computer scientist from Bishkek, introduced the students to the subject using a series of interactive activities, such as counting with bits, playing guessing games to create algorithms, and even performing a card trick to teach lessons.
“Our time together gave them not only the information and tools that will serve as a catalyst for their future pursuits, but also the confidence to eagerly explore a subject that they were not previously familiar with,” he describes.
Alif is no stranger to teaching, having facilitated a number of courses for The Walt Disney Company since joining the organization in 2010 in San Francisco. He has also been passionately involved in working with youth in the United States to support them with college applications and other defining milestones.
His time at UCA inspired lasting relationships with the students he taught. “We connected at a deeper human level, and it was rewarding for me to be able to encourage them on their academic paths. Despite coming from different parts of the world, we were able to bond through our shared interests and grow from a relationship of mutual teaching and learning,” says Alif.