What is with this Buddy Bear exhibit? What does this have to do with Kazakhstan? Well, I believe it has a LOT to do with this culturally rich country. As many bears that are out on display, 125 close to the Baiterek tower, that’s how many different nationalities co-exist in this lightly populated country of 16 million people. This land is the size of 3 or 4 state of Texas and has an eastern border with China, a country that has over 1 billion Chinese. There used to be many more Germans and Russians in Kazakhstan and there are also Uighurs, Tatars, Korean, Turks, Kyrgyz, Mongols, Turkmen, Uzbek, etc. Where China has many more people and a great variety of different Chinese, Kazakhstan has fewer people but many nationalities. With different cultures, you will have diverse languages and religions.
I believe Kazakhstan prides itself in being able to handle the steady mix of people groups. I know when I lived in Almaty for two years I was surrounded by different nationalities and enjoyed it. But then again, I’m an ESL/EFL teacher, my job is to teach English to those people who want to learn it. I’ve studied or tried to learn eight different languages and am a master of none. The Kazakh people by law have a mandate to know three languages: Kazakh, Russian and English. Will that work, can they do it? As I’ve written before, it is a do or die proposition because another alternative could be Chinese. If I were Kazakh or Kazakhstani, I would try to learn all three languages simultaneously too. I’ve studied Chinese, I’ve written its calligraphy, I know just how difficult it is to speak in the four tones. What is so very interesting to me is that among all the nationalities represented in Kazakhstan, China has a very low profile. Enjoy my photos of more Buddy Bears, especially Vietnam’s quote: “Who doesn’t love, doesn’t live.”