A small group of Communication Studies students accompanied Associate Professor Gregory Payne on a highly publicized trip this month to Kazakhstan, where he spoke with media professionals on how to handle crisis communication situations.
The Central Asian nation has been home to an emerging democratic style of government since the early 1990s, and is in the beginning stages of developing a free press.
Several news outlets covered Payne’s visit. A video interview of Payne was conducted in English by Altay Abibullayev, spokesman for the Central Communications Service of Kazakhstan—the country’s state-run news agency.
Payne stressed the need for public officials to release information as quickly as possible in a crisis situation.
Kazakhstan is growing in importance globally, with its gross domestic product soaring from $30 billion in 2004 to $186 billion in 2011, largely because of the country’s vast oil reserves.
Payne was invited as a guest speaker for the U.S. State Department International Information program. The students were hosted in Almaty by KIMEP University.
Caitlin Collins ’13, a Political Communication major from Cumming, Georgia, accompanied Payne on the trip with three other students.
“We were able to learn about a culture in a way that’s not reading a book,” Collins said. “Everyone there was extremely hospitable. I never felt so welcome in a place.”
Collins said she and the students went to fine art museums and interacted with diplomats.
“It definitely gave me a glimpse into the life of a diplomat,” she said. “I saw all the different meetings they went to, and how they have to be informed about a lot of different things around the country and the region.”