Uyghur Dance Workshop

Instructor works with students as they practice weaving a central asian carpet

Central Asian Carpet Workshop


In addition to language courses, all CESSI students are expected to attend regular co-curricular activities including the CESSI Lecture Series, “Dastarkhan” (CESSI’s Central Asian-style community meal), and other cultural activities. See what CESSI has to offer!

CESSI Lecture Series

Each summer, CESSI invites experts on Central Eurasia from across the country and the world to speak at the summer institute. Lectures are on a wide range of topics across many disciplines, including history, political science, sociology, and literature. For lecture descriptions, please see the CESSI Facebook page.

CESSI lectures are part of the CREECA Lecture Series, which is free and open to the public. Recordings of recent CESSI lectures are available on the CREECA Lecture Series Podcast (on SoundCloud, iTunes, and Google Play). Recordings of lectures prior to summer 2018 can be found on the CREECA Lecture Archive page. We also livestream the lectures for those unable to make it in person.

Dr. Togzhan Kassenova gives a lecture for the CESSI 2022 Lecture Series. Photo taken by Jennifer Tishler.


The spread from CESSI 2022! Photo taken by Sarah Linkert.

Dastarkhan originates from the Persian word for “tablecloth”, or a place where people gather to eat. This word has been adopted into many Central Asian languages today. During this event, CESSI students bring a dish to pass and enjoy chatting, listening to Central Asian music, and playing some traditional games. See the highlights below!

Thanks to Moldir Oskenbay for the fantastic video from Dastarkhan 2022!

Cooking Demonstration

In summer 2022, CESSI students and instructors participated in a cooking demonstration, where they all worked together to prepare some popular dishes from Uyghur and Kazakh cuisine.

Besbarmaq, a Kazakh dish, prepared by CESSI students and instructors. Photo taken by Megan Feeley.
CESSI students and instructors prepare the dough for lagman. Photo taken by Courtney Johnson.

Textile Workshop

In CESSI 2019, students participated in a Central Asian pile textiles workshop. Students were able to create their own mini-rug to take home as a fantastic souvenir of their time at CESSI!

Language Tables

In some years, CESSI instructors organize weekly language tables for students of all levels of a given language to attend! These language tables are a fantastic opportunity to allow students to get to know each other outside of class and practice using the target language in a more informal & relaxed setting.

CESSI 2022 Kazakh Students participating in Kazakh Language table at the Memorial Union Terrace.