The mosiac is from the Astana Vokzal (train station), and the oil painting portrait of Nicolai Ivanovich Vavilov is from “Dry Lands Grain Farming Institute” named after agriculturalist Baraev, north east of Astana. We went by car with Murat, son of Kanat, a friend of Ken’s along the newly opened expressway. Once we arrived to this place where it was once considered THEE place for the most prestigious of agriculturalists in the former Soviet Union, we toured the institute’s museum. About a month ago, I read to my listening students the sad story about Vavilov from Christopher Robbin’s book “Apples are from Kazakhstan.” Vavilov was an important man due to his work and was highly promoted by the USSR but who later suffered much at the hands of Stalin when he contradicted his collectivization policies.
Much sadness observed in the ALZHIR area but we met these friendly, little girls who wanted to practice their English in the small town of Akmol. Are they aware of the sad past as portrayed by the mural at the newly built ALZHIR museum? Maybe they have distant relatives who came to be punished at ALZHIR during the 1930s and 1940s purges. The final photo is one young man making a wish on top of the Baiterek tower overlooking Astana. Maybe he is hoping for peace while outfitted in his military uniform.