Archive for February 7, 2011

Positives and Negatives in Kazakhstan

Asian Winter Games are over and it is as if there is a big sigh of relief or even a melancholy letdown despite the fact that Kazakhstan came out ahead in number of 70 medals won.  What will the Kazakhs do now without an adrenaline rush to push them to the next level?  Altogether the hosting country of Kazakhstan was awarded 32 gold, 21 silver and 17 bronze.  Apparently Japan and Korea tied for number of gold medals with 12 each but Japan came out ahead with more silver to come in second after Kazakhstan.  Then after Korea was China and finally Mongolia.  That was a surprise because apparently Kazakhstan beat Mongolia in hockey with a score of 30-0.

I guess that is why I enjoy figure skating and not watching a lop-sided team sporting event like hockey where the score was so poor.  Last Friday night I did not stay long enough to watch the free skater Dennis Ten (Kazakhstani who is Korean background) win in his division over Abzal, the one I had witnessed in all his glory.  Where Abzal fell, apparently Dennis did not. I don’t have their final scores.

How fun it was to go out on the river in the old part of Astana again on Sunday morning and I did not fall once again but this time I had better figure skates on.  Also, the weather was not as cold as it had been the Sunday before.  I’ll show photos tomorrow of our skating and also of the great skating we saw in the new ice arena that doubles for a biking race track.

My detractor on my blog by the name of “Anti” but her real name is Aliya asked that I broadcast the positive to my Kazakh students, only the positive.  Aliya sent me a link that my economist husband looked over, here’s what he wrote:

It would be interesting to know who this person with “” address  monitoring your blog is? She seems to want you to write a certain way.

Basically, I think she is saying that the UN and CIA data show that the oil wealth of KZ has been more equally divided than in other countries.  It’s complex to evaluate, and I’d like to print it to see it all at once.  I notice that the last date [for Kazakhstan] available is 2004.  International data is hard to evaluate.  But, it’s the kind of thinking I’ve always done.

Gap is related to poverty and KZ and world programs to help the poor when world food prices “spike” as they did in 2007-2008.

Forecasts show that KZ and its wheat exports will be on front burner.  Kansas and rest of winter wheat belt have been hit by large amount of “winter kill” because of cold temperatures and low snow cover (blanket).  Australia has too much rain, spoiling crop.  World Stocks are down.  Prices will rise in KZ again.”

I just LOVE my economist husband for making sense of some very complex charts (see link above). Could it be that my Kazakh “friend” Aliya is missing her home country of Kazakhstan? Sadly, while she may be studying in the U.S. she realizes that almost no American that she is associated with, and I do mean “no one” really knows about what positive event just happened here in Kazakhstan with the Asian Winter games.  All the media attention has been focused either on the debacle still unraveling in Egypt or your garden variety sports fans were just finishing watching the Super Bowl, not the Asian Winter Games.

Really, if there were no CNN or BBC media trucks here to take in this event to broadcast to the rest of the world like they would for the Olympics, then it means that this was just an internal Asian event.  Perhaps China could have walked all over this sporting competition with their sheer size and mass of people but they supposedly sent in their second string athletes.  Or so I’m told.  I DO know that this has had a very positive effect on all Kazakhs I’ve been in contact with in Astana. I’m just wondering how it has been perceived by those in the farthest reaches of this great country?

Thinking about the Sino neighbor just on Kazakhstan eastern borders not walking away with more medals, reminds me of a line in the movie I just watched the other night “Pursuit of Happyness.”  Will Smith is advised by his boss who is going after a client in a golf game, “let them win.” I suppose after looking at these charts about income equality across the world put out by the United Nations and the Central Intelligence Agency that there might be some kernel of truth in it even though the data is old by our Information Age standards of the 21st century.  As you know, I’m very suspicious of Wikipedia and there have been many things that have changed throughout the world in the last year or two, economically and politically.

Maybe “Anti” wants to have everyone talk about positive things concerning Kazakhstan because she is feeling vulnerable as a Kazakh in a big country like the U.S.  However, if we as educators don’t address the problems about the human trafficking or that the rural areas are NOT getting the industry to work, the unemployment  will continue to be very high in the Kazakh villages.  I think we need to support the Peace Corps volunteers who are out helping in the very out of the way places, some are commited to two years of deprivation.  Once Peace Corps volunteers work themselves out of their jobs or once Kazakh citizens don’t need to go overseas for their higher education, then we can talk about how income equality is distributed in different countries.

What I know just looking at the U.S. is that North Dakota, the neighbor state to Minnesota is doing VERY well financially while other areas of the country that were the “in” place to be like Florida, California and Arizona are hurting economically.  Hey, I am no economist, I leave that to my husband.  But if Kazakhstan can get back on their feet again as an independent nation that helps their OWN people to pick themselves up and to help their neighbors like Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, then I think we have a developed nation with maturity.

Let’s have easy to read graphs and charts about philanthropy instead, one of my husband’s favorite topics.  When Kazakhstan becomes a giving nation to those from the outside as well as helping their own, then we have a VERY positive thing happening.  But it takes a change in society from the old Soviet way of doing things and thinking creatively on how to solve age old problems to a newer way that is about loving your neighbor.  Thanks Aliya for your contribution to my blog.


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