I read this poem from Isobel Kuhn’s book “Nests Above the Abyss” and LOVE it still today. I believe the meaning of this poem fits the university in Astana, Kazakhstan where I used to work and teach. This flagship university only opened their doors a year ago with 500 Kazakh students but want to be known and acclaimed as the “Harvard of the steppes of Central Asia.” If so, the administration needs to continue to work hard at their goals of keeping standards high and not lagging in achieving those goals honestly.
See what you think of this poem when thinking about Kazakhstan striving to be in the top 50 of developed nations by 2030. I witnessed this same kind of obsessive drive with China when I taught there for two years in Harbin in 1986-88. My Chinese students were programmed to talk about what they would do for their motherland. The word “reform” kept coming up over and over again. See where China is today economically…but to what cost as far as their human rights issues? What does China do against their own people? What does Kazakhstan do or NOT do to their own people who are not fortunate enough to live in the big cities of Almaty and Astana?
De sunflower ain’t de daisy and de melon ain’t de rose,
Why is dey all so crazy to be sumfin’ also dat grows?
Jes’ stick to de place you’re planted and do de best you knows.
Be de sunflower or de daisy, de melon or de rose,
Don’t be what you ain’t,
Jes’ you be what yo is.
Pass de plate if you can’t exhaust and preach.
If you’re jes’ a little pebble don’t try to be de beach.