“Why do you do it?”

Yesterday I gave a talk about Kazakhstan to a group of about 20 people at a Rotary meeting in my hometown.  The usual questions came afterwards, “What’s the weather like?” “What do people eat in Kazakhstan?” (Last talk I gave about KZ I answered “horse meat”)  But the inevitable question came up “Why do you do it?” In other words, “Why do you want to go back to a complex place that noone has really heard much about, that is the “ends of the earth?”  From port to port, on a good traveling day, it takes over 24 hours to get to my final destination from my hometown.  So, good question.

However, I’m ready for that question because I keep asking myself the same thing.  I am going back for the Kazakh students.  Also, I have met some fabulous friends who are waiting for me.  Not only that, I have plants that are waiting for my eventual return (thanks Benedicte for watering them) and also my stuff is stashed in about four different locations.  Ken and I moved to a new flat that is half the price of our old one and twice as far away from our university.  Fortunately, it will be up in cleaner air away from the highly trafficked Furmanova and El Farabi streets.  That is another upside.  The downside is that I won’t have the fantastic view of the mountains that we were paying for. 

I told the gentleman who showed genuine interest in what I had to say about Kazakhstan that I felt called to go.  I also added that noone goes to Central Asia as their first country to live in.  All my friends are seasoned travellers who have survived living in other countries, this place is NOT for greenhorns.  He finally said that he admired my going to the ends of the earth, to Kazakhstan. True, there are so few of us that go to this place and since there are only about 15 million (correct me if I’m wrong) Kazakhs who live in this vast land that covers the size of four Texases, not many Kazakhs make themselves known in other countries.

Why do I do it?  I love teaching, I love teaching my Kazakh students, I love Kazakhstan!!!

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