The other day I posted my Professional development students’ reactions and feedback about an American embassy person’s talk. Some interesting insights into the Kazakh mentality were revealed in the students’ responses. Subsequently, my husband sent that blog entry to an old Kazakh friend of his and the following are his post Soviet thoughts:
“I think it is difficult to adjust western structural ideas to CIS realities because history and present is absolutely different and most important is the fact that people are very different, their attitude to each other. Even for you after staying in CIS so long there are many questions you can’t understand. As you know, all bad things from your world have been picked up very quickly because people were ready to accept those with enthusiasm. But to introduce good things like agricultural extension…takes many efforts.
For example, the book of which Raj Paroda and Madina Musaeva are co-authors is a good example. Actually, it was not the book written for Central Asia, it was just book written by an Indian scientist and translated from English into Russian about five years ago. Who has read this book? What is its value then? I don’t think that one more book explaining what is extension system in USA will help farmers in Central Asia. It is my opinion but it doesn’t mean that the book should not be written. In general I am in a 10% group of skeptical people you know.
Student’ comments are in general correct. But people from embassy of Kazakhstan in USA would also visit American universities when they are invited and would interact with American students just like yours with our students. But he is right that feature of Kazakh chinovniks to show their superiority to common people. In this respect I am also not a typical Kazakh. People always make notes that I am not looking like an academician because they got used to recognizing academicians from first look. All those guys are looking at students with haughtiness and arrogance. And this is normal in our society while my behavior is abnormal.
Dishonesty in education. Suppose that I give impression that I miss Soviet Union making comments about present life. I was also critical of SU but there were many very good things in that society as well. One thing is obvious that dishonesty in education was not an issue. Both professors and students were very different as distinct from today’s realities. In SU for professors it would never occur to take bribes from students while today it seems to become a normal thing, everybody talks about it, including also defending degrees.
Incidentally from now on an old system of defending degrees of candidates and doctors is abolished. Again, first of all because of dishonesty in that system. You may imagine that in SU times there were some five-six doctors of agricultural economics, now there are close to one hundred and you know most of them. “
(to be continued)