Islam Karimov Foundation

Interview with the scholar of the Umid foundation, Laylo Usmanova

EN: Many clearly remember the iconic image from the late 1990s, which shows President Islam Karimov meeting with scholars of the Umid Presidential Foundation, who at the time were students at leading US universities. This historic photograph, which was taken during the Uzbek leader’s visit to Washington DC, had a truly symbolic meaning, embodying the high hopes the founder of independent Uzbekistan had for its younger generation. The image had a powerful impact as it inspired many young Uzbek people to learn, develop and broaden their intellectual horizons.

Today, we are showing a video interview with Laylo Usmanova, one of 21 students who attended that historic meeting with President Karimov. She was pictured wearing a traditional Uzbek gown and standing next to the Uzbek leader.

Thanks to the Umid scholarship programme, Laylo received a Master’s degree in International Commercial Law from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

“I received a phone call from the Uzbek embassy and was invited to attend a meeting with the President. Of course, I was very emotional. I was so happy, and could not believe that this was really happening to me. It was more than I could ever have imagined. When I met our President, it was such an overwhelmingly emotional moment that many students cried. We were very moved by the strength of his personality; he called us his children and talked to every one of us. We wanted to give him a hug, hold him by the hand,” Laylo says, recalling this historic encounter.

After returning to Uzbekistan, Laylo worked as a lecturer at Tashkent State Law Institute. She subsequently worked

at the Ministry of Health of Canada, Chigbu & Co law Firm (Vancouver), Ventra Oil Company in Canada, Ronaldson & Kuchler LLC law firm in Chicago.

She is a mother of a six-year-old boy and runs the Thellia Esthetics company in Tashkent.

The Umid Foundation was set up by the Uzbek President Islam Karimov in 1997. From 1997 – 2002, scholarships from the foundation enabled over 800 young people from Uzbekistan to study at universities in the UK, Germany, Italy, Canada, USA, France and Japan.