So glad it is Friday and “Little by Little” progress in the classroom

This week was a creative mess, the students were well behaved after a week off with Spring Break. It helped that I got back on board first, as an example, and know exactly how some of these students felt.  I did NOT want to go back to school again after the week off. It felt like two weeks because I packed so much into those seven days off.  Therefore, in order to be proactive, I set up a calendar schedule of what the assignments that are due, when, so that the students could plan the end of their spring semester accordingly. They seemed to resonate with that plant. However, the problem was that I didn’t put all the assignment requirements in the little boxes…but that is what they were referring to when assignments were due today.

Oh my, at least they read that and my powerpoint but didn’t read the LAST slide where it was clear I wanted an introduction, working bibliography and outline of their fourth paper.  They missed the “outline” part and so I got things in fits and starts today in class…and AFTER class by e-mail. I put up a list of all the approved topics they will be writing about in their 2,000 word research paper with 8 academic sources for the APA formatted reference page.  Little by little I will get them to work on this project.  Some are really excited to do a paper on what they are knowledgeable about. I had them give feedback to others on their topic so they know they have an “audience.”

Here is a “Little by Little” poem that I put up several years ago on this blog.  Someone wrote the following for me and added extra stanzas than what I had.  “I eventually ran upon an archive of the Rockland County Journal (NY) dated December 9, 1865, with this poem titled Little by Little, attributed to the London Band of Hope:

One step and then another,
And the longest walk is ended ;
One stitch and then another,
And the largest rent is mended ;
One brick upon another,
And the highest wall is made ;
One flake upon another,
And the deepest snow is laid.

So the little coral workers,
By their slew but constant motion.
Have built those pretty islands
In the distant dark blue ocean;
And the noblest undertakings
Men’s wisdom hath conceived,
By oft-repeated efforts
Have been patiently achieved.

Then do not look disheartened
O’er the work you have to do,
And say that such a mighty task
You never can get through ;
But just endeavor, day by day.
Another point to gain,
And soon the mountain which you feared ;
Will prove to be a plain.

“Rome was not builded in a day,”
The ancient proverb teaches ;
And nature, by her trees and flowers,
The same sweet sermon preaches.
Think not of far off duties,
But duties which are near ;
And having once begun to work,
Resolve to persevere.

A little more looking, and it seems the London Band of Hope, or UK Band of Hope, etc., was/is a temperance society formed in 1847.”

I’m thankful for my readers of this blog, it has not been getting top priority from me for several years but I still care about Kazakhstan and maybe I will go back one day.  I’m thankful for my comp I students, little by little they will persevere and finish this course. I want them to succeed.

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Happy Nouruz and Happy Spring

Carnegie north wingfixed up North WingNot sure how to spell the Kazakh holiday but I DO know what spring should look like around here.  We have been fooled into thinking spring is here and then BOOM, we got an inch of snow surprise several mornings ago.  We have a faint layer of snow on the ground now but that won’t last long if the temps rise above freezing today.  We survived Daily Light Savings time switch a week ago. Of course, I felt tired for losing the one hour sleep but I think I am back to normal now. I just finished having a wonderful spring break for ONE week and so it felt like I was away from teaching for TWO weeks because I accomplished a lot.  I will show pictures of the Carnegie building we have been working on.  One is an older photo, the other is a photoshopped photo.

We had a committee meeting with six of us talking about the future of the Carnegie and how we need to raise money to do all the renovation that is necessary in order to have it a place for community gatherings.  Lots of GREAT ideas for five months from now, but also lots of work. We have 200 boxes full of OLD books that need to be processed.  I am buying up 4×6 and 5×7 inch picture frames at thrift store so that we can put colorful pictures or etchings from 100 year old books behind glass. We will sell these mementos for $25 a piece and hopefully raise at least $25,000 to start work on what needs to be done first in the Carnegie building.  So much work to do in the downstairs basement area where the archives will be. Glad to have two librarians and an archivist working with me on the book purging that we are doing.

Well, tomorrow I am back in front of my students and they don’t want to be back as much as I don’t want to be there.  I worked on my lesson plans for the next month so there is a light at the end of the tunnel for ALL of us.  Yes, give me summer but then there is the tyranny of the weeds to pull in all 15 of my different gardens outside. The snarly weeds got the best of me last year because of my accident, so now I have to serve double time to get those chokers out.  I’ve lost some of my perennials to weeds but maybe I can get out and do the work that needs to be done.  Which work do I prefer, Carnegie or outside gardens? That’s a toss up!

Happy Nouruz to all my Kazakh and Central Asian friends!

carnegie library looking SE

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Happy International Women’s Day!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat a wonderful spring like day in our parts of the country…I can’t believe I was able to walk in 45 F degree temps on our gravel road for two miles…in the early part of March!!!  Happy International Women’s Day to me.  Nobody breathed a word of this occasion in church today…no one in the U.S. really knows about this holiday that is celebrated in most other countries of the world.  I first learned of it when I lived in China in the late 1980s.  I know it was a big deal in the former Soviet Union when I lived in Ukraine for six-seven years…it was an even bigger deal in Central Asia.  I liked getting the attention, the flowers, the cards, the treats from my employers and my students.  I tell people that for American women, it is International Women’s day every day.  We have so many privileges that we take for granted that many other women would just dream of enjoying. At my university tomorrow there is a function I should go to because I DID sign up for it but I need to practice my violin because we are playing at an international dinner in the evening.  A Mozart piece that is a bit challenging for me.  I have most of the notes right, just not all the trills and certainly not getting the vibrato in there.  I am using some of the upper positions but trying to avoid open string notes.  Anyway, I need to practice more than listen to people give lectures on women’s rights.  I know we are blessed. In fact, after I finished my two mile walk I helped my Dad pick up tree branches and stumps out in our woods for him to take for his furnace.  He is trying to save on money for fuel and I guess he likes the excuse of getting out to the country to see the fields and breathe the fresh air.  I am hoping we can clear enough of the dead branches so that the plum trees can thrive again.  My husband had cleared away that area and cut them back and they were doing well for a couple of seasons but now it has not been producing as much.  We have our domestic plum trees we planted closer to our house that are starting to produce.  However, we did not have as much last year.  Perhaps if it is warm the trees are fooled into blossoming and then a cold snap happens and then they can’t produce the fruit as much.  That’s my theory. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnyway, last night my husband and I had our first bonfire out in our woods. It was spectacular to see the sunset in the background. I do feel blessed to be able to walk in the fresh air in MARCH and to have a Dad who has enough energy to come out to gather wood.  The sun is shining and all things seem bright and beautiful.  Well, tomorrow I have my students handing in their rough drafts about human trafficking. They are to write 1,500 words in a problem and solution essay and some of them are not capable yet of using the APA formatting style.  I don’t know what their high school teachers let them get away with, some of their grammar and spelling needs a LOT of work. Then I pile on top of that all the rules that goes with researching from the university databases and to show in-text citations using APA. I should put together a quiz for them based on the research chapters from their textbook.  Maybe I’m not so happy about spring now that I have to do my own work for tomorrow’s classes.  There will be Spring break from March 16-20 which means that once Friday rolls around, they will be taking off for Florida or south or at least not sticking around campus for that week off.  Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on my different projects…like practicing my new violin! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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What happened to Boris Nemtsov?

The news has been all abuzz about what happened to Boris Nemtsov when he was walking with his girlfriend near the Kremlin. I suppose after listening to his interviews that are on line, he kept saying that Putin and his thugs were robbers and thieves. I don’t expect you can believe you are protected by the laws of Moscow when the person in charge of ALL of Russia and beyond doesn’t like to have that repeated. There will be many more people who come in opposition to him as a result of this senseless murder.  Nemtsov was speaking the truth as he saw and understood it. He claimed that the last election was rigged and false numbers were used to show how much Putin was favored.  Not the case at all and yet Boris was NOT for revolutions like he witnessed of the Orange Revolution in Kyiv a decade ago.  No, he did not want to have anything bloody and crazy, he was all for a peaceful resistance.

People going to mourn his passing will go peacefully to the bridge he was on where he was gunned down. It is a busy street with the St. Basil’s cathedral in the background and the Kremlin nearby. I was able to see the video footage that was preserved from some building close by and see what apparently was a cleaning truck (what we would call a dump truck) pass Nemtsov and his partner and then you can see where there are not many cars behind after the shooter got a clear shot of Nemtsov from his vantage point of the truck.  If there were a way to show that on here, I would do it. I’m not so sure I can transfer that info.

Okay, now let’s see if this info will actually transfer:

Anyway, enough of this about Nemtsov, he will be remembered…he felt sorry for Putin because he believes things will NOT go well with him once people find out that he is in it for life…12 years after the next election and then on and on.  The Russian people will wake up to this sooner, than later.  What does this have to do with Kazakhstan? I think the people are watching this very closely in Central Asia…if Putin had his way, he would have all of the countries back again under the umbrella of the former Soviet Union. Are we back to the Cold War again, maybe?

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Kyrgyzstan terms from “Two Kyrgyz Women”

On Friday I had my composition students download the free version of the book titled “Two Kyrgyz Women” by Marinka Franulovic. About five years ago, I had had my ten Kazakh students read this book in hard copy that I had been gifted with from Marinka.  Now I am glad I can have my American students read the free e-book version. Here it is:

I think it is always a good idea for the teacher to read or do whatever assignment he or she is giving to their students.  I’ve read this book several times before but now I see it with fresh eyes after what I have learned much more about modern day slavery. Actually this book helped to jump start me on this path as an educator to inform others about this great evil. In any case, I will quiz my students on Wednesday whether or not they have read the first story about the first Kyrgyz woman who was in slavery in a tobacco plantation in Kazakhstan.

On p. 24, the first slave named Ainura revealed a little bit about her husband who had become an alcoholic and didn’t help support the family with their two children.  He would often tell Ainura, “Nobody is getting rich by working.”  This was according to the Kyrgyz Post-Soviet moral relativism that pervaded the country soon after the fall of the USSR.  When my American students read this part, it will go against everything they have been taught by their parents and grandparents who worked hard to own their farm or run their business.  My students have a high cultural value of believing in hard work or having a good work ethic. Most of my students value hard work and they had better because I am going to work them hard in the next ten weeks of this semester.

Interesting to read on p. 29 “Some of the world’s most spectacular architectural treasures were built by slaves, and no one is embarrassed to appreciate them.”  Immediately I think of the Great Wall in China and KNOW that there were thousands of slaves who died creating that monster structure which can be seen from outer space, maybe even from the moon.  Marinka, the author, further wrote: “Some of these new land owners in Kazakhstan may earn money by using foreign workers for free, and they do not seem embarrassed by this either.”

On p. 32 the slaves were reminded by their “owner” to NOT speak in Kyrgyz if they met anyone who was a stranger to the farm.  These Kyrgyz slaves who had been brought up to their northern neighboring country didn’t have the right documents. The manager put more fear into these “slaves” that they may be beaten or imprisoned if the Kazakh police found them without proper IDs on the farm.  Apparently on the next page, one girl who was from the Krygyz city Osh and not used to rural life spoke a different kind of Kyrgyz.  As it turns out, Altanay was much more educated than the other slaves and she just did not know how to work quickly like they did.  The masters dubbed her with the name “White Hand.”  She did NOT last long under their abusive jokes and shaming techniques. Actually she was only on the farm for two weeks before she disappeared.

I have seen the movie “Nefarious: Merchants of Souls” and will probably go again next month to another screening of this 1 1/2 hour documentary of slavery in our modern 21st century.  Nothing is new under the sun and the unfortunate like Altanay who was called “White Hand” probably ended up as a sex slave. Many young girls are picked off who do not come from a loving home where the father protects but rather assaults his own daughter. According to this documentary, some mothers in other lands sell their daughters off to be sex slaves.  The question was asked, how can a loving mother do this?  Some of their responses were that they love their daughters enough to sell them to local dealers and not to dealers in some place far off.

These two Kyrgyz women were mothers who happened to be married to selfish and uncaring husbands.  I found out from Marinka that the two women ended up going back to their family and their husbands because what they had been through as a slave did NOT compare to what they thought was a bad home life. They were desperate enough to believe a lie about getting a job in Kazakhstan to support their family.  Little did they know they could have died under the conditions they were subjected to.  In their shelters they were separately told to NOT tell anyone in their family what they had gone through with slavery, they would have been ostracized by the very people they needed to love them.

Anyway, I hope to have some spirited conversations with my students on Wednesday when they come back to our class after a LONG weekend. Today is President’s Day so we have the day off.  Good thing, I could use the break as I know my students can too.  However, reading this 150 page book will open their eyes to the depravity of man.  It is NOT just in Kazakhstan, it is all over the world and slavery is going on right at our doorstep.


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“Spring Thaw” Event This Friday in February!!!

Whoever came up with this event at our university to have a “Spring Thaw” in February must be from California.  Anyone who grew up in these parts of Minnesota would not even consider to tempt the weather minstrels with the thought of spring thaws in February. We can have some of our worst blizzards or storms in February and March. It would be more realistic to have a Spring Thaw in April or even May based on experiencing past winters. We have nothing to complain about with our winter so far, nothing like the brutal beast of a winter we had last year.  However, to get into the mood for a Spring Thaw means that you are probably going south to Florida or even farther south during Spring Break which DOES happen in March.  One full week of no teaching, hurrah!!!

Today for this event I will be playing in a six piece orchestra that we have slammed together with practices every day for a week.  The music pieces we are using are from Broadway hits and movie hits.  Songs like Edelweiss, Beauty and the Beast, Circle of Life, Cabaret and Memory.  Then movie hits like Chariots of Fire, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13 and Somewhere Out There.  Should be interesting to get the responses from people who show up for this fun activity of food, drinks, cashbar and photos and games.  I hope I can hold up playing my violin that I haven’t picked up for over 20-30 years!

This “celebration” starts at 4:30 today. Everyone will be there ON time (closing time for many office jobs) but they will be out the door and on their way home by 5:30 p.m. After all, it IS a Friday and people have their weekends planned out already.  I plan to go to a movie screening tomorrow titled “Nefarious: Merchants of Souls” which is about human trafficking. A friend of mine already went to it down in Texas and she had a hard time watching the whole thing. Victims’ testimonies but also footage from the traffickers themselves.  We live in a depraved world and unfortunately human trafficking is escalating instead of the numbers going down.  What does that say about our sin sick world?

I’m also watching the events unfold in Ukraine with extreme sadness. The Russian separatist terrorists (given equipment from Russia) are riddling the cities with civilians living there with bullets so that they can take over the east end of Ukraine. Their goal is to move on to Kyiv and then the other eastern European nations. The leader in Russia is not dealing with the reality or he is forcing the hands of many leaders from other nations. Things will be bleak for those living in Russia because their economy is currently plummeting. However, their “fearless” leader, who many Russians still believe in, is waiting for Ukraine to buckle first. After what Ukraine has been through over the century with the Soviet rule, the memories run too deep, they will NOT let Russia rule over them again.  They would rather fight and die first.

I wonder if this leader in the north has the same designs for the assets in Kazakhstan?  Would the Kazakh people be ready to fight and die for their own sovereignty?  I wonder…are we going back to the Cold War mentality.  So much for the spring that, right?

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Super Bowl Kick off about to Happen

So, the Super Bowl has a LOT of spectators now, either in the stands or at home watching TV or some other big screen.  Not me, my husband and I were going to visit the football players where they were required to go to the one big room with about eight screens but we didn’t know they had study hall first from 2;00 to 4:00 p.m.  So, in about five minutes the kick off will happen without us.  I guess some people watch the Super Bowl just for the expensive ads that are entertaining.  Others will watch the halftime with Katy Perry or whoever she is. I’m really out of my own culture, I might as well be living in Kazakhstan. I don’t care WHO wins, the Green Bay Packers or the MN Vikings are not there so why bother, right? Yes, I DO know who is playing today and I really, really don’t care!!!

Well, here is an ad for something entirely different but has everything to do with the Super Bowl.  It relates to my blog from yesterday. The human traffickers are busy with their wares and the girls (and boys) that are brought to this multi-million dollar event are the victims.

Watch this video and think twice about who REALLY is making the money.  It’s another Youtube video by “Shared Hope” about YOUNG girls in a “Doll Box” at the Super Bowl.

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