Archive for March 11, 2010

Impressions After Meeting 500 Kazakh students in Taras

Yesterday was a fun day with an auditorium packed with eager, inquisitive Kazakh students.  We had different slideshows prepared in Russian and Kazakh and I did the English version with Russian translation.  The students were at the edge of their seats listening intently to all the details they need to know in order to register, apply, take the qualifying tests and finally be accepted as first year students to this new university.

Fun to get the questions from the students on the one standing mike in the auditorium.  One asked in Kazakh, others in Russian but some of them wanted to ask me directly in English their questions.  As if to show off their expertise already and in being ready for this HUGE step to listen to English (British) and take notes in English and I emphasized that they would have to begin reading and writing a LOT in English!

Afterwards, I talked to some of the students and I got my picture taken with four of them. Especially touching is that they know the Peace Corps volunteer Jamie who was in a near fatal car accident about 2-3 months ago.  The others in the car were killed but she narrowly escaped because another PCV was trying to call to see if she made it home safe and the cell phone was answered by someone in Russian.  He told whoever answered her phone that she was an American and maybe things moved quickly from then on.  She was medi-vacced to Germany and then to family in northern California.  She was in a coma this whole time, but now I learned from those students yesterday after our recruitment meeting that she is doing much better, she is up and talking.  They sent her a big card.  It was if they wanted to talk to me, a connection to a young woman I have never met but have prayed about.  Jamie, know that you are loved by those you left behind in Taras.  I’ll have photos of these four students in tomorrow’s post.

I also met a young teacher named Marina who felt jealous that the students have this great opportunity to go to a brand new university.  She has taught many years but she knows an American friend of mine and her English was very good.  I told her that we are planning to have some seminars and workshops for teachers such as herself and she was brimming with smiles.  I think we will have other teachers like Marina who want a chance to improve themselves but it is a question of getting up to Astana to see the facilities with their own eyes.  That will sell the campus and the concept of this new university.

All in all, it has been a very pleasurable visit in Taras, known by some as the Big Village.  It really is, even someone said that it was a “laidback” city, perhaps “laidback village” is more like it.  I will have another presentation to do this morning and then flying back to Astana.  More photos to come…

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