Archive for April, 2010

Astana Spring Birthdays and Misc. Photos

Seems a rash of birthdays at work lately.  All of us dutiful employees troop to whatever office has been designated as the party room.  Several speeches are given, gift given to the birthday celebrant, clapping and then we trundle back to work.  This past week there has been no cake, juice or other goodies. Perhaps people have run out of time, energy or funds to underwrite each celebration in this busy month of April. As I write this, I’m baking the third cake for my husband’s birthday party later this evening.  I wanted it to be a surprise for him but it won’t be, I had to explain all the ingredients that I needed for Ken’s favorite carrot cake.  Since he is the main shopper in our family, not as easy to pull of a surprise in Kazakhstan.   If all show up, there will be 15 people enjoy the frutis of my labor in our living room, spilling over into our kitchen and balcony.  It is cool as I write this, while I wait for the third batch of cake to come out of the oven.  More photos taken in the last week.  Enjoy the view.

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Photos of Astana on a spring day

What’s amusing is a week ago I was writing about a country south of us that had just suffered a tragic revolution and it was barely touched by the world’s news media. Maybe because “Kyrgyzstan” is just too difficult to pronounce.  Let’s all try to pronounce  EYJAFJALLAJOKULL!  All together now!

Spring like weather brings out the best in people in a place as cold as Astana.  Some go out biking, others walk, young couples are out with their babies in strollers.  Heartwarming to see doting grandparents with the toddlers who have just learned to walk.  If it weren’t for the bad volcanic ash air that has rolled in after a week of exploding in Iceland, the Astana air would be great to breathe now.  Well, last weekend the air was good.  I’d hate to think what it is like to breathe in Europe, hopefully this volcanic thing will be capped soon, I need to make travel arrangements to go home to the U.S. in about a month for my Dad’s 80th birthday!!!

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Nauryz Celebration Photos (Part II)

Last Sunday we were surprised  to happen upon this festive celebration, a continuation of Nauryz in Astana.  They had started celebrating this event a month ago around March 20th so perhaps this is the last of it.  I was the only weigoren (Chinese for foreigner) wandering around  the grounds taking photos.  I was invited to join their feast in the yurt but I declined, (notice the shoes in the foreground). I had to catch up with my husband as we were going to the Artoym market to buy fruits and vegetables.  Maybe next year in Astana!!!

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Nauryz Celebration continued in Astana


As promised, I have some photos from this past weekend.  One of the first weekends where we could walk around and REALLY enjoy the spring-like weather.  Of course, Almaty has been enjoying warmer temps for about a month or more. I felt like many Astana people, we all just wanted to get OUT in lighter layers of clothes so we could breathe the fresh air that Almaty does not enjoy.  What a surprise to see so many yurts set up with the animals nearby and Kazakh people all dressed in festive robes and dresses.  

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Two more Kazakh student essays

I have photos to show on tomorrow’s blog of Nauryz celebration from yesterday, but first two more student writings.  The first paragraphs were written by a Kazakh high school student.  This sampling is fairly rough but she got her idea across with a little help from my editing.  The second writer needed no editing and I hope that she does very well on her IELTS test.  For now enjoy reading what both had to write in only 30 minutes.

My Grandparents

I have my grandparents only on my father’s side, because on my mother’s hand they died.  I love them very much…They are very kind and in my childhood they didn’t get tired telling me fine fairy tales and encouraged me to do good things.

When I grew up, they told me about my grand grandparents, how they fought in the War…It was terrible and awful time…Sometimes they tell me about their own story, especially grandfather about how they lived in Soviet Union…for him, I think, it is good time in his life, because he said that  this time all his young age…He was an accountant and he worked in the city of Karaganda.  And my grandmother worked in the restaurant, she was headmaster cooker…Nowadays they are old, but my grandmother always cooks for me, very delicious and tasty cakes, dishes and so on…

The above had only 143 words, the one below had twice as much and more developed thought to her essay.

“When we are motivated by dreams that have deep meaning, by pure love that needs completion then we truly live life… “Greg Anderson

Why are we living?  What’s our purpose in the life?  What is it’s meaning?  I’m sure almost everybody asks himself these questions, and tries to find out the answers.  I also don’t differ from these people.  I am an excellent student and I always tried to be the best.  However, I hadn’t known why I was  doing it except for making my friends and relatives happy…No, not for being famous, not for money.  But, after an event, which helped me understand my goals in life clearer, everything changed.

Once, in my summer holiday, I went to my grandparent’s house.  There were my three little cousins, and they always played in the outside with other children.  Two of them really differed from the others.  At first I couldn’t understand their behavior.  They behaved like adults, who had long stopped playing, their clothes were old.  Only then did I understand their behavior.  They were well-balanced and serious, since they don’t have parents who would take care of them.  Orphans don’t have any expensive toys, clothes or they couldn’t buy sweets, fruits.  Furthermore, what’s more important is that they couldn’t study on a paying basis in the best colleges and universities, since nowadays everything needs money.  But they don’t have parents who would pay for them.  As if there is no justice in the world.

That’s why I decided I will help orphans.  IN the future, after I finish my degree program, I will establish a company, where I will help these little children.  I will call the company “AKGUL” and honor my Aunt Akgul, the most children-loving person in the world.  Being a child, I remember how she always bought me whatever I asked.  And despite the fact that she is not alive now, I will carry her in my heart forever.  And I believe my dream will come true soon.

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Three Different Kazakh students short writings

These Kazakh students’ writings (averaging about 160 words) were written in 30 minutes by my young, impressionable students.  What they wrote caught my eye because they had a clear message.  Whether you agree or not with these students and what they wrote doesn’t matter.  For my purposes, I just asked them to write what their grandparents thought of the past.  A few answered the question directly, others just gave OTHER interesting information. I’m going to have to work on their specifically answering the question as they prepare for the IELTS test…

Essay #1 I have a great story…Great story about my grandfather.  He died 3-4 years ago. But his name will never be forgotten because of his way, sacred way…My grandfather’s name is Nurmakhan.  He lived in southern Kazakhstan, near the city of Shymkent, in Abais ayl.  So in this ayl (very little city) there is a place where there’s a lot of stones.  When he was just a little boy, his mother (my grand grandmother) placed him near these huge stones.  And I think that the ability which he had, he climbed up at this young age.  Today this place name is “Gaiyp eren Kyryk shilten” [not sure what this means in English] and many people as tourists come to this place.  If you have a problem with your health, or if you want anything else you can go to this place.  As a result, many people thanks our God.  It’s really sacred place with healthy water, with interesting and amazing stones.  Just I can’t describe this place, just go and see for yourself!!!

#2 I don’t agree with my grandparents

I know my grandparents thought very well about the Soviet Union because they’ve never seen Kazakhstan without Soviet Union.  They thought that Kazakhstan couldn’t live, couldn’t exist without the Soviet Union.  My grandparents said to their sons that Moscow is the capital city of their Motherland.  I don’t agree with my grandparents.  I think my Kazakhstan is a country which can decide own problems about country.  Nowadays I’m shocked how my grandparents said that Kazakhstan lived only with Soviet Union and Russia. It is not really so.  Of course, Kazakhstan and Russia are partners, economically and politically.  But Kazakhstan isn’t a republic which depends on another country.

My grandfather was a tractorist and my grandmother was a teacher.  My grandfather participated in the II Patriotic War.  Maybe it influenced my grandparents.  I know that for my grandparents, their motherland is Soviet Union.  Maybe for my parents too.  But for me, my motherland is my Kazakhstan, my KZ.  I love my motherland!

Essay #3 Kazakhstan’s economics is not so good

There are many problems but first of all, I think we should fight against corruption.  Why do I want it?  Because corruption disturbs the development of our country.  For example, the level of education might be better but unfortunately many of our students often hope for their dad’s money, therefore our country doesn’t have enough clever workers.  And second, what I have noticed is that many buildings are built not good enough.  Due to half of that money which should have been spent on good houses or on different buildings, some people take.   We have many, many problems like this in our country.  Now, I don’t know how I can solve this problem but I can just offer to study hard and not make the same mistakes as other parents.  To sum up, I think corruption is our great problem, so it will be my first aim to solve it.

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I am NOT indifferent to Kyrgyzstan, but must move on…

I’m deeply saddened that this will be my last blog entry about Kyrgyzstan’s plight after their April 7-8 revolution which toppled the Bakiyev government.  I am NOT indifferent!!! It feels like I’m turning my back on unfortunate victims of flood, hurricane, earthquake and volcano all rolled into one. What has happened in this beautiful, pristine spot in the world the world media seemed to ignore? Everyone’s focus is elsewhere, such as Haiti, China, Iceland and all other places on this planet that are recovering from a natural catastrophe.

Revolutions are NOT natural or considered an “act of God” so I MUST move on, it is so wretchedly political. What has happened in Bishkek, my former home in the early 1990s is very troubling to me.  Revolutions are not pretty and currently the people south of Kazakhstan are trying to pick up the pieces and according to their spiritual orientation now have time to reflect on what their future with a new government will be.  Hopeful or hate-filled?  May this NEVER happen in Kazakhstan!!!

The following is from one of my American friends who loves Kyrgyzstan and the Kyrgyz and Russian people.  He and others are helping to put things back together:

“Kyryz people shared from their hearts about their pain, but also of their pride in their country. Russians asked for forgiveness for looking down on them. We prayed that the walls between Russians and Kyrgyz would be broken down within our own church. One young man came who was a part of the protests down on the square. He realizes that his life was spared as he witnessed those around him falling to the ground.

About 30 of us went to different hospitals. Some people are still in comas, others will never walk again. People lined up to give blood for those wounded during the uprising. To date, 81 people have died and over 1000 have been wounded. We got to talk with those injured in the uprising and found out their immediate needs for food, water, and medicine. We then bought about $500 worth of items to help them for the next couple of days. People were so grateful that they were crying and hugging us. The doctors told us that aid from the Red Cross will not be distributed until later, so these people are in great need of antibiotics and care until the Red Cross is able to help. We want to be used in practical ways to the people of this country during this time of instability and unrest.”

If you want to help Kyrgyzstan but have no connections to people in Kyrgyzstan, please consider AprilRelief.com to donate funds.

Dear friends,

This message is addressed to all of you who are not indifferent to the recent events, which took place in Kyrgyzstan on April 6-7-8, 2010. We are turning to you with a request to join us in our efforts to help victims of these horrible events. As you know from the news, 84 people were killed and 567 people were wounded. Out of 567 wounded, 65 are still in intensive care and in desperate need for medicines and special treatment.

The events also had a lot of immediate social ramifications victimizing many of the most vulnerable members of the society: orphans, elderly, and handicapped who were left with little provision of food and drugs, and they are currently struggling.

We, the young people around the globe, took initiative to set up a fund to aid the victims of the revolution. We currently have several teams in four countries:

In EU and UK efforts are coordinated by Karachach Sadybakasova, Edil Ajibaev, Saina Otorbaeva and Zarina Osmonalieva.

USA efforts are coordinated by Aibek Hakimov.

Kyrgyzstan efforts are coordinated by Aselia Kasenova.

We promise to ensure transparency in all our actions. Here is how we will work:

FUNDRAISING: All teams will be working towards raising funds via local bank accounts. Funds will be then transferred to NGO “Students In Free Enterprise” in Kyrgyzstan, which has been functioning since 2003 and has set up a separate bank account at the international bank for this purpose.

AID: Distribution of funds will be carried out by the Kyrgyzstan team via NGO “Students In Free Enterprise”. All transactions will be documented and financially reported.

BENEFICIARIES: The list of beneficiaries will include the wounded, families of the killed, vulnerable members of our society directly or indirectly affected by the events on April 6-8, 2010. The team held negotiations with the local association of NGOs and will be cooperating with its members, which collect specific information about various groups of victims in order to ensure coordinated and effective approach in distributing aid.

REPORTING: The Kyrgyzstan team will report to donors, justifying each of its decisions on placement of funds. Reports will be published online on a monthly basis. Financial reports will be checked and audited by a group of independent professional auditors (who have volunteered to do the audit) before closing the fund. NB: Any donor has the right to request to view any supporting financial documents at any time.

We would like to ensure our donors in our sincere aspiration to help our country fellows. We will appreciate any help. Your participation will mean a universe to those who will receive your support.

TOGETHER WE SHALL STAND.

The April Relief Fund Team

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