Archive for December 16, 2010

Kazakhstan’s Independence Day Today

Since a nation has to start somewhere, it might as well be today, Dec. 16th.  Happy Birthday Kazakhstan and this revolves around a student demonstration that was in Almaty back in 1986 if I’m not mistaken.  Living in Astana removes me from the statue and area where the police came to straighten out the Kazakh students who were upset about a number of matters.  I have gotten various reports about what actually happened during this chaotic time, so I’ll move on to what I know happened at our university on Dec. 7th.  That was a significant day when the president of this country came and talked to the whole student body and faculty.  I was able to get a headset so I heard what he was saying in Russian with the simultaneous English translation.  I took notes as fast as I could and this is just the skeletal version of his inspiring talk to the group assembled in the atrium

He started out by saying that the OSCE summit meeting brought in 5,000 intl. guests, 1,500 journalists from all over the world.

The President claimed that 4,000 students eventually will come to our university but that there are 484 students presently. Half the students are used to winning medals and awards in academics.  [We have the cream of the crop from all over Kazakhstan.] According to the President, five years ago it was proposed to start NU.  He spoke of the partners such as UCL, Harvard, Wisconsin, Pittsburg, Singapore, Berkeley and others that have been entrusted the task to teach the young people of Kazakhstan.  He said something to the effect directing his attention to the UCL teachers, “We trust our young people to you, thanks for accepting our invitation…it is a united effort as a team, with a great responsibility…”

Changes in education have happened rapidly since 1992 so they have needed specialists with modern knowledge so that is why there have been 20,000 Bolashak scholars who haver returned from their western education to take on responsible positions in Kazakhstan.  Also to be a part of the 21st century what is needed is modern innovations. So far we have 20 schools for gifted children in Kazakhstan [that will be feeder schools into NU]

According to the President, UNESCO revealed a survey where Kazakhstan came out first place out of 129 countries in education. However, what is needed are scientists in the innovation spheres.  He admitted that during Soviet times, students could get theory but were lagging behind.  He knows that most successful centers were those theorists who could do practical work.  He also said, “It’s not about amount of knowledge but the ability to use it”

The president made reference to the Industrial age but now we are past that and he wants to bring Kazakhstan to the international level with the Information Age.  He recognized that the paradigm is rapidly changing in this post-industrial era.

Accelerate the access to knowledge for all spheres. The President recognized that an American company will invest $35,000 in training their staff and bring about a profit of 1 million dollars.  He wondered aloud, “Think of what can happen if 50,000 American companies train their employees?”  He then asked a rhetorical question: ” Can Kazakh businesses do this? No, they cannot yet.”

The president stated that there should be a cult of continuing education in order to change the image of Kazakhstan. Be a practical class of people who know how to expect crisis and know what to do with it.  2/3rds of time should be used in training how to solve problems.

“You young people, born in 1991 don’t remember about Soviet Union was already lagging behind the western world by 50 years.”

Try to reach the individual policy of the modern technologists.  They won’t provide this knowledge for free because the world is competitive

Should use the modern technology and education of western teaching staff. The world is integrated, there is no other chance, this is a great opportunity.  Come to school to study and prove that you are the best intellectual.  Yet you need huge spiritual integrity, so you must work for benefit of your country. Get knowledge that is needed, have highest morals, be among and in the midst of other clever people. NU students should be an example. The very best time to be creative and innovate is 25-30 years of age.”  Then the President gave examples of Newton and other scientists.

“Serve people, be generous, have a noble heart, that is the key mission.”

Some may think to be successful is to have a house, etc. but more important is health of students, join sports team, follow example of foreign universities with their students’ involvement in sports

Day of Independence coming up soon – hard work by past students who sacrificed, they should be respected because they are the strength of motherland.  Now today’s students should:

1)    construct strong state of unity in Kazakshtan

2)    have tolerance

3)    be innovating

The president mentioned about Kyrgyzstan and the lack of peace there, he thought it was about everyone saving himself last spring.  He said, “My young talented friends, set high objectives, witness achievements…Be careful with peace and serenity.”

He said, “Only education can help us, the Future – generation of ideas for the good of our Motherland.”  He further inspired the students with this final word, “the key task is to respond to the global level and its example, I wish you great success.”

The President took questions and then he had other dignitaries give talks and words of inspiration.  What a day to remember for all the students, they had their photo taken with the President.  This pep talk was very much needed because these students have been working hard at the university and now they are on vacation.

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