When Ali Velshi was offered the chance to teach economics to a group of students at the University of Central Asia (UCA), it was a great opportunity for him to learn new aspects about the industry he has worked in for 25 years.

For this TKN assignment, Velshi, an MSNBC Anchor and Business Correspondent for NBC News, developed a curriculum which he delivered over one week to UCA students in Tajikistan who did not have prior exposure to Western theories of economics.
“This was a lot like my day job in that I was talking about the basics of economics and had to break down complex issues using real-life examples that the audience could relate to,” Velshi explained. “It was remarkably instructive for me and teaching is one of the most effective ways in which I can give back.”
During that week, he spent half the day teaching macroeconomics and the other half preparing students for a business plan competition organised by the university. Students had to identify a business problem and use what they were learning to find a solution that could be applied at a local level.
Velshi exposed the students to the concept of entrepreneurship by sharing examples of how some American entrepreneurs struggled to come up with a unique idea and others were able to improve people’s lives through their work.
“One of my biggest takeaways was that, even though the students did not have prior exposure to economics and innovation, they were able to make the connection between macroeconomics and how they could help their communities prosper,” Velshi noted. “They were remarkably curious and their economic sense was innate.”
“We were delighted to have Ali Velshi join us this year as part of UCA’s Connecting to Your Discipline programme,” said Dr Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Chairman of UCA’s Board of Trustees. “The students benefitted enormously from his perspectives on the dynamics of the global economy, and the role of entrepreneurship in the development of Central Asia.”
Velshi had previously been involved as a TKN volunteer many years ago, so this assignment was a welcome opportunity for him to re-engage in TKN service and make another meaningful contribution. Moreover, he wanted to experience UCA firsthand, an institution he has followed with great interest.
This was Velshi’s first time in this part of the world, and he relished the opportunity to connect with people whose life experiences are entirely different than his. “Tajikistan is stunningly beautiful. I kept going outside and taking pictures of mountains. To be in that remarkable environment, among the most hospitable people, was so rewarding.”
UCA is most grateful to Velshi for contributing his extensive expertise in business and economics and for introducing students to a topic that they otherwise may not have been exposed to as an area of study.