Seems what I thought were just rumors and rumblings is TRUE. Peace Corps will no longer exist in Kazakhstan because a few powerful people thinks it to be a fully developed nation with no need of outside assistance from American volunteers. How do you spell “Pakazooka?” I know that may be an insulting Russian word to some of those Kazakhs who are in the lofty positions of authority in Kazakhstan, however I think the word aptly fits. Peace Corps volunteers give up two years of their lives to go to out of the way places in Kazakhstan where those in administrative positions in Almaty and Astana do not subject themselves to. These two cities hardly make for a “developed country.”
I did not travel as much as I would have liked in this very large country of Kazakhstan, especially to see the western part where the supposed “oil money” is. Yet I saw enough just outside of Almaty and Astana to know there are still many schools and libraries that are woefully far, far behind any western developed nation. Pakazooka really means “just for show and without substance underneath.” No different than a Potemkin village set up in Ukraine that was supposedly to satisfy the powers that be while the Ukrainian people were really languishing in poverty.
Since I was a Peace Corps trainer at the very beginning back in the summer of 1993 where we were housed at the “Bang Institute” I know the caliber of the Peace Corps volunteers as English teachers back then. I know that they were very good volunteers willing to help where help was MOST needed in the educational systems in rural Kazakhstan. I saw many quality PC volunteers since in the three and half years I was teaching in Almaty and Astana. The following bulletin is just putting a nice face on what must be very bad politics underneath. I’m reminded of this saying: “Pride goeth before the fall.”
Press Release of the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan
November 18, 2011
On the work of the Peace Corps in the Republic of Kazakhstan
Over eighteen years the United States Peace Corps has fruitfully worked with Kazakhstan in accordance with the Agreement between the Governments of the United States and Kazakhstan regarding the activities of the Peace Corps in the Republic of Kazakhstan signed in 1992. During these past years, more than 1,000 Peace Corps volunteers have undertaken great and useful work highly regarded by the Kazakhstan side.
On November 18, Peace Corps informed of the suspension of their activities in our country providing a number of comments in this regard. The relevant release says the decision was made “based on a number of operational considerations” and cites the fact that Kazakhstan is one of the most developed countries in the world where Peace Corps has run its programmes.
Due to the fact that Kazakhstan has achieved great progress in the political and socio-economic development over the 20 years of its independence and today is a country with an income above average, we believe that the suspension of the activities of the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan is a rather logical step. As it is known, this organization assists mainly the least developed countries. In addition, many programmes of the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan, in general, have come to their conclusion.
We proceed from the understanding that this decision is connected with an internal review of priorities, the adjustment to the organizational plans and the redistribution of volunteers to other parts of the world. As it is known, the spectrum of activities of this organization includes more than 70 countries.
We can state with confidence that US volunteers and our countrymen alike who benefited from the invaluable experience of communication and mutual cultural enrichment with this organization will remember all these years of effective partnership with warmth and gratitude.