Lecture on Leadership and Volunteerism

PA290071Thanks to my Aussie friend who stepped in to give a lecture to my masters students last night. Kathy Banham (holding the flowers) is the president of AIWC (Almaty International Women’s Club).  She knows of what she speaks as a leader but also working with a group of many volunteers from all over the world.  I appreciated her consenting to be videotaped.  She spoke about her work and leadership experiences from the past that ultimately led her to Almaty, Kazakhstan with her husband’s job, but especially liked hearing her answer my students’ many questions.PA290062

But before Kathy spoke, I showed the class what Kathy’s next door  neighbor, Julia, had talked about the day before, Kazakh carpets.  I was mystified, along with Julia, why the production of carpets had stopped in the mid-1970s.  Kirill, a masters student,  matter-of-factly answered that question.  The Soviets did not want any country within the Soviet Union to freely express their artform of their former nationality.  To be politically correct in the Soviet times, all must see themselves as Soviet citizens and the Kazakh carpet challenged that notion.  Mystery solved but I am still wondering about when bride kidnapping started and why.  Seems that if the carpet had been a tradition for many centuries to be the brides dowry, then to short circuit that meant she didn’t have to make a carpet which took a year to build.  Also, perhaps during the Soviet times, the materials would have been difficult to come by, everyone was suffering.

Back to Kathy’s talk. She covered many points about her favorite place in Kazakhstan was Charyn Canyon (east of Almaty about 3 hours) and that she had been there eight times already.  She said that travel outside of one’s own country is an important stretching experience. Also, if you don’t know the language, a smile goes a LONG way to communicate, along with hand gestures.  Much else was captured on videotape.  I think we all appreciated her strong leadership views and I found out something else about Kathy I didn’t know before.  She is the oldest of six children and has three sisters and two brothers, as do I.

We both already knew that we perhaps share the same birthday even to within a day.  At least we are the same year and month and if we figured out time zone differences between Australia and Minnesota in the U.S. we might have been born within an hour apart.  (We both have not found out from our mothers when the exact hour of our births were to compare) How many people can say they have a birth sister?  Kathy is a very lovely leader who is a Super Volunteer. Thanks Kathy!

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