About

My husband is the scout in our family, he is the one who leads and goes before me.  He did in 1992 when he first was assigned to Almaty, Kazakhstan through USDA.  I followed in May of 1993 when I was the first Peace Corps trainer to English teachers.  We met my second day in country. Peace Corps has since left Kazakhstan as of several years ago supposedly because they had progressed from third world status. I have my suspicions that it was no longer safe for young female volunteers to be placed in the countryside. (note my keen interest in human trafficking issues in my more recent posts)

My husband was the nomad again in the fall of 2007 as he scouted out the territory in Almaty and gave me blow-by-blow accounts of what he was experiencing in Kazakhstan at KIMEP university.  Not an easy place to live especially after having lived in Kyiv, Ukraine for 6-7 years of the last ten years.  Many similarities, of course, but many differences due to the influence of the Soviet Union empire.

I have joined my husband in Almaty in October 2007, I was able to see for myself all the changes that had occurred in the town of our courtship from the early 1990s.  The subsequent blog posts after my arrival to Kazakhstan were my own impressions and photos of this GREAT country of Kazakhstan!!!

UPDATE as of June 1, 2013:  I have been away from Kazakhstan since spring of 2011 when I left my teaching position Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan. I had a one year contract to teach ten Kazakh teachers in a Professional Development program that I had put together using all media sources available to me.  We used Moodle and worked with academic research databases for writing research papers.  Much the same as what I am doing back in northwestern Minnesota with Korean and Chinese students as well as Americans in their first year of studies.

As you can see, my attention has changed from writing about Kazakhstan and I have focussed more about human trafficking.  The reason being is that I believe there is a spirit of “slavery” existing in the countries of Central Asia.  I would hope with better education people in the former Soviet Union would be aware of the risks and dangers involved with trusting strangers who say there are good jobs to be found to get them out of their poverty.  My heart goes out to those in the countryside who want a better life but are snatched up by people who have no morals. I have found the same is going on in the Midwest as well. Traffickers know no boundaries, this is a GLOBAL issue.

Perhaps one day my husband and I will return to Kazakhstan…for now I wait to write a book that I have collected stories about Ukraine and Kazakhstan titled “Unbroken Souls.”  Stay tuned!

93 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Andyz said,

    Hello from Atyrau!

    Thank you for nice diary, for me is very interseting, have been reading all you notes for 2 hours. Unfortunately have to go to sleep. (will continue tomorrow) I am 21, young lady from west KZ, working for Italian company as Docunment Control. I will be happy if you reply me, take care.

    Andyz
    Atyrau city

  2. 2

    lily said,

    your story is interesting. i like your writing style, it flows along and takes me with it. thanks. x

  3. 3

    Funny said,

    Hello,
    I am seeking an advice from you about writing.
    how did you learn to write? do you have any practical advice?

    thank you.

  4. 4

    kazakhnomad said,

    Funny, the best way to improve on writing is to keep writing and doing a blog is an excellent way to go about that. For me, it is a daily discipline every morning and it is manageable to do if it becomes your priority. With incremental steps, you might note improvement especially when your readers start giving you praise for your writing. (btw, I have never thought of myself as a writer) Thanks for your compliment, I’m glad you are one of my faithful readers.

    One other thing that helps is to have a passion about your topic. I happen to have a very strong desire that westerners know what happened in Kazakhstan in the past, what is going on presently and the hope we all hold for Kazakhstan’s future. This all started when I found out Ukraine’s sad and recent past.

  5. 5

    Frank R. Thoms said,

    You cannot imagine the surprise, goosebumps, and delight in discovering my writing from nearly twenty-years ago on your blog! Only a few weeks ago did I find old floppy disks with the book (if its still there), as I had lost all contact with the writing in a move. Now I see you have it – and respect its ideas.

    Do you have the whole book? I am trying to visualize Tatyana to whom I must have given a copy.

    I am eager to hear from you!

    Frank Thoms (I rarely use the R.)
    Lowell MA

  6. 6

    kazaknomad said,

    Some Kazakh, by the name of Rustem, deemed it fitting to put rude and crude remarks in this “About” section. Rustem wondered why I don’t write all my stories about Kazakhstan’s history and the people who are being honored on this blog in the Kazakh language!?!? I guess his nationalistic spirit has gone to seed. I am an American teacher trying to reach my western audience about Kazakhstan’s sad past in the language I know and which happens to be considered an international language.

    If Rustem has the energy or skill, he can translate whatever is on my blog but perhaps he is too lazy to do so. I know my blog has been translated into Russian and Italian and other languages. I pity those Kazakhs, like Rustem, who have a chip on their shoulder and want to blame others for their misfortune or backwardness.

    For me, I am refreshed surrounded by young Kazakh and Kazakhstani students who want to improve their knowledge of English and other subjects taught in English in this westernized university where I teach.

  7. 7

    Paul said,

    Dear Kazakhnomad,

    I am a British journalist writing about some of the great undiscovered cities of the world for a British newspaper. I am trying to get three or four sentences from an Almaty resident about what makes the city worth visiting – it could be about the cuisine, the atmosphere, the architecture, the nighlife, arts & culture etc. Do you think you could send me a few words about your city and a name I can attribute them to?

    I know this is an odd request, but it would be helpful if you could share with British readers why Almaty is a city to visit.

    Thanks, Paul McCann

  8. 8

    kazakhnomad said,

    Thanks for your interest Paul. Please check out my blog for today and tomorrow and you will see the answers my students gave about why Almaty is a GREAT place to visit (and to live!)

  9. 9

    m said,

    hi,
    Really enjoying your blog posts.
    I was in Astana, Karaganda and Dolinka last month (early November 2008).
    I was wondering if it would be possible to correspond with you by email re: these places.
    I’m a writer working on a project, part of which has to do with the KarLag system.
    Hope to hear from you.

  10. 10

    kazakhnomad said,

    M.T. sorry I haven’t gotten back with you sooner about your interest in the KarLag system. Busy with end of semester projects to do. I will respond later about your interest in this. I hope to keep up a dialouge with you since your last e-mail seems that you are blessed with a rich heritage of your grandparents or great grandparents being sent down to Kazakhstan during the purges.

  11. 11

    Jose Luis said,

    My name is José Luis Mejías, spanish photographer from Madrid aged 34.

    I am looking for documentation about the kazak nomads today, specially in China: lifestyle, traditions, festivities, culture.

    I have been granted by Casa Asia, the spanish cultural institution for Asia issues, to develop a non profit art and educational photographic project about kazak nomads in China (called “NOMADAS LIBRES”), that I proposed to Casa Asia on 2008.

    There will be held and exhibition with my photographs about these peoples in Spain.

    This is part of my artwork http://www.awarenessphotography.com

    I must document the project and I wonder if you have documents or contacts in the region

    I should be travelling to Atai Mountains in march. If you had further suggestions, that could help me a lot

    Best Regards

  12. 12

    kazakhnomad said,

    Seems I’m getting several Russian speakers/WRITERS who prefer not to write in English. (I systematically delete all comments written in Russian) Apparently they are regular readers of my Kazakhnomad blog but object to the content of my daily blog entries. Hmmm…please, if you really must comment, make it understandable to my readers of English what you intend to write, whether you agree with me or not. No one is forcing you to read my blog, or are they?

  13. 13

    Anne Marie said,

    I enjoyed reading your blog tonight and the submissions of your students. I came across your blog as I was googling Kazakhstan so that I could learn more about the country where my newly-adopted great-niece was born 6 months ago. I’m so excited for my niece and her husband on the adoption of their new daughter, I want to create a small book for her that contains some stories — folk tales, love tales, fairy tales, or even lullaby songs — from her native country. Would any of your students possibly be interested in helping me find English translations of some stories that would be appropriate for a young Kazakh girl growing up in the USA?

  14. 14

    Kazakhnomad said,

    Anne Marie, I enjoyed reading your comment and encouragement about finding out more about this GREAT country of Kazakhstan. I have some friends who have lived here in KZ for about 10-12 years and have learned the Kazakh language. They wrote a book in Kazakh with some folk tales in it and and it has wonderful pictures painted by Nelli Bube to help illustrate the stories. I think it has an ISBN number so if you looked up their names on Amazon, Erik and Kim Aasland, you would perhaps find it. If not, let me know okay?

  15. 15

    Kazakh in UK said,

    Hi, just stumbled upon your blog, must say it is very well writen! Became imbued to it straight away. Nice to see a western person like yourself talk about your experiences in Kazakhstan.

    Keep it up, believe in your students, tug, push and lead them to the next plateau, and sometimes poke them with a sharp stick called ‘truth’.

    Sincerely,

    Kazakh in UK

  16. 16

    Kazakhnomad said,

    Kazakh in U.K., I take your praise as a high compliment. Especially since I am writing about YOUR culture while you live in another somewhat simliar to my own, well we speak the same language anyway. I DO very much appreciate my Kazakh students!!! Yes, if only I would NOT feel harassed by those Kazakh middle managers (read former communist and current day Soviet thinkers) and other top-heavy administrators, life would be almost perfect in Almaty!!!

    Truth, aye, I will do what I can to build in my students a curiosity to see outside the prescribed boxes they have pencilled in for them. While at the same time I will demonstrate to them how I am seeking after truth about what happened in their culture in the not so distant past, the extremely sad history of Soviet Union’s domination in this very fair land of Kazakhstan!!!

    Thanks again for your encouragement!!!

  17. 17

    Mia Olsson said,

    I found your blog when googling for information on Kazakhstan and I’ve been following it with great interest. I am a PhD candidate in Political Science at Lund University in Sweden and planning a research trip to Kazakhstan in September. The topic of my dissertation is “Puzzles of (non-)Democratization”, or why there is very little political opposition in some Post Socialist states. In Kazakhstan I plan to interview politicians (both incumbent and opposition), other persons who are politically active and some members of the business community. All depending on the possibilities of doing that type of research of course. I have some contacts within some opposition parties, but still struggling to find politicians in office.

    Seeing as you are teaching at a University, I was wondering if you have any students who would be interested in working as an interpreter for my project. Unfortunately, I do not speak Kazakh and my Russian is very poor. I will be able to pay for their work. It may be a good learning experience for them.

    In any case thanks for a very interesting blog, which has really contributed to my general knowledge of Kazakhstan.

  18. 18

    kazakhnomad said,

    Mia, Thanks very much for writing and for your encouraging words. I never really know who are among my blog readers until they write me something first. Thanks!

    I actually do have someone in mind that might be compatible for your expressed needs. She is a young teacher in the Economics department and studied in Sweden a few years ago. I will let her know of your interest for the fall (by copying your note to me and send to her) and get back with you on that.

    Otherwise, I will scout around to see if there are other former students of mine who might help you. One person I also have in mind actually is from Astana and perhaps her parents would have some connections. To survive here, it is ALL about connections!!!

  19. 19

    Hi!
    I have to say your blog must be visited and read by those willing to know what really Kazakhstan is about. I’ve read tones of traveler’s-view-on-Kazakhstan themed blogs, but you know mostly they’re “2-3 days visit” travelers POVs and only reflect the first impression. Yours is deep and complete, entertaining and reader-friendly. Good luck!

  20. 20

    Kazakhnomad said,

    Thanks so much for your most welcome comments!!! I take it that you are perhaps a former student of the KZ university I write about? If so, then you may have an understanding of what a challenge it is to be here as an “expat” teacher. You might possibly be a graduate student in U.K. and know about the complex cultural differences that exist. In any case, you have to take it all in long strides of humor, right? Note my blog for today, I continue to marvel at what I learn from my teaching colleagues.

    In any case, I’m glad you find what I write worthy of your time, it is always nice to be complimented. Believe me, these are dismal days for those of us who are going through the pains of downsizing because of dropping enrollment.

  21. 21

    misty said,

    I find your blog fascinating and can relate to so many of your thoughts and reflections. I lived in Russia for 4 years and taught in a small English studio, but am now back in the US looking into future options. Do you have an email address that I may contact you at? I am interested in teaching in Kazakhstan.

    Thanks so much. I love your writing and you have a beautiful heart for truth and education and justice.

  22. 22

    kazakhnomad said,

    Misty, thanks for your complimentary comment about what you have found on my blog. I’d love to find out more about your four years of teaching in Russia, I’m sure there are many similarities since the two countries share a border. Yet, the Kazakhs are so vastly different in culture and make-up. I find it bewildering that more people don’t know about this great land that is the 9th largest in the world and has a history that goes back to the Iron Age. If you survived four years in Russia, then perhaps you are equipped to try your teaching skills out in Kazakhstan. Greenhorns beware!!!

  23. 23

    Ce. said,

    Hello nomad,

    Well, I’m not sure if you’re the nomad or your spouse is, but either way! I’m a grad student in the US, studying Central Asia, and I ran across your blog. I love how you post examples of what your students write! If you can access my email from this form, please feel free to email me – I’m hoping to find a university in Almaty at which to study Kazakh next year, and would love to hear about your experience in Almaty!

  24. 24

    Lucky said,

    Hey just stumbled across your blog, really good work.

  25. 25

    kyzyl_mai said,

    That was fun to read 🙂

  26. 26

    SC said,

    Hi,

    I came across your blog and felt very drawn to it. My husband is currently living and working in Almaty since a year ago, while I’m still in our homecountry. Kazakhstan is completely foreign to me, and I’m glad I found your blog which I can read to have a glimpse of a non-local’s (a woman/wife) experience in living there. Thank you for sharing it out. 🙂

    SC

  27. 27

    Kazakhnomad said,

    Thanks SC for picking up on my blog and benefitting from reading about the history of Kazakhstan but also about what foreigners encounter on a day to day basis currently. This blog is a place where I vent or gloat about the trials and tribulations of living in this complex society. Sometimes I make strides forward, other times I feel I fail. This country is a fascinating place with a rich and deep culture, I hope you have a chance to join your husband to observe for yourself what life is like here in Kazakhstan.

  28. 28

    SC said,

    I’m so happy that you replied. You may not believe it, but i’m reading your posts starting from the begining (Aug 2007).. it’s like reading an ‘online novel/biography’. I used to think about writing it out when I was living in a foreign country, but it only stayed as a thought (which didn’t last too long) and a page of blog. The idea of ‘writing down what happened daily/weekly in my life’ is both fascinating and daunting to me! That is why I am impressed with your dedication, discipline and ability to write. Having came across your blog is as if God answered one of my prayers to let me know how Almaty or Kazakhstan is like to a foreigner who’s living there – thank you. Yes, I do hope I will have a chance to join him there one day, or at least visit him.

  29. 29

    kazaknomad said,

    Thanks S.C. for your most welcome encouragement. I guess reality t.v. shows are currently popular and so I never thought that my daily journaling for the rest of the world to peek into is similar, like “reality diary.”

    Yes, it is a discipline to figure out what to write every day but right now I am coasting with using my students’ stories about their grandparents. These 18 and 19 year old students can tell it better than I ever could. It gives a snapshot into the life of the past and helps explain why things are the way they are in Kazakhstan now.

    I believe, similar to Ukraine, that we are dealing with a “post-genocidal society” but since nothing was really documented in writing about the starvation period (1930s) during the Soviet era, the best I can do is get the grandchildren to write about what they know in English. What I have witnessed by reading these accounts is the bravery of the Kazakh soldiers in the Great Patriotic War but also what the womenfolk in the families had to do to regroup if the father didn’t return. So much heartache, so many different nationalities mixed into this complex society. So much sadness.

    Anyway, this country is an incredible place and I believe the rest of the world needs to find out more about it, thus my blog. Yes, my feelings and impressions hang out there for all to see, for better or for worse.

  30. 30

    Wayne Hall said,

    Dear Kazaknomad,

    I’m a Canadian English teacher currently working in Korea, and last year I met several Kazakh students while studying Korean at Daegu University. They were all really nice people and we still stay in touch, and they have piqued my curiosity about teaching conditions in Kazakhstan. I’ve been teaching in Korea for 10 years and would like to broaden my EFL teaching experience. Would you have any advice on how to go about finding English teaching positions in Kazakhstan?

    Thanks in advance!

  31. 31

    kazaknomad said,

    Wayne, I’m so happy you wrote, your timing is perfect!!! I’m also glad you have been impressed by the Kazakh students you met in Korea. Actually, as you probably know, there is a strong connection between Korea and Kazakhstan and if you read my earlier blog posts you will find out why.
    In any case, you are asking the right person about finding employment for EFL teachers in Kazakhstan as I have a new position of hiring qualified, experienced native speakers of English to teach at a new university in Astana, the new capital of Kazakhstan. We are looking for people like you to interview if you are really interested.
    I will write to you separately about sending your c.v. to me. It seems you are a good candidate if you have a MA degree and you already have 10 years of experience teaching EFL in Korea. That’s great!!! Let’s stay in touch! Kazakhnomad

  32. 32

    Andrea said,

    Dear Kazakhnomad,

    I’ve been reading your blog since last summer and I find it absolutely fascinating, esp. your comments from your students about the state of education in Kazakhstan. I work in Higher Education myself and can relate to many things your students say.

    I travelled on business to Kazakhstan for the first time last September and will be travelling out again in April.

    May I ask you for some advice please:

    I will have a bit off time to do some sightseeing in Astana and Almaty. I am looking for a student who could show me around the old town of Astana and Almaty or who would be willing to accompany me to some cultural events. I am very interested in the arts – literature, museums, opera, theatre – and am always open to new suggestions. I speak English, French and German and am currently trying to learn a bit of Russian.

    Would you be able to put me in touch with a student/students you know and who may be interested? Needless to say, I am happy to cover expenses or take the student out for a meal – as I said, I am very flexible.

    I am happy to tell you more about myself off-line.

    With best regards from Edinburgh, Scotland
    Andrea

  33. 33

    Alan said,

    Would you have any advice or resources you could direct me to on how to help Kazakh students with pronunciation issues in English? I have a group of Kazakh students in an ESL pronunciation class here in the U.S. – have you encountered certain English patterns/sounds/words that are especially difficult for them to pronounce, that I can be on the lookout for?

    Thanks a million for any thought you might have on this! Your blog is great.

    • 34

      kazaknomad said,

      Alan, thanks for your question. I find that the Kazakh people don’t have any real problems in pronunciation as I have encountered with ESL students from Vietnam, China and other Asian cultures. They are quick learners of other languages because they are expected to memorize and they come from an oral tradition. Language learning is all about memorizing and mimicking what you hear. Their biggest problem is writing because they have not been exposed to much reading, again an oral culture such as Kazakhstan has is very rich in their storytelling and knowing their own proverbs.

      But if you want some guidance on textbooks to use just for fun, I like using Carolyn Graham’s “Jazz Chants” which zeroes in on grammar issues but also stress and intonation patterns. If anything, there might be problems with not the segmentals (individual vowel or consonant sounds) but with the supersegmentals (stress, intonation, etc.) because of their learning Russian as their other language besides Kazakh. So, you might want to look at Celicia-Murcia’s (?author’s last name?) book on pronunciation to see what problems Russian speakers have, there might be the carry over to their speech patterns if they are really beginning level English speakers. Have fun! Ask them to tell you stories about their grandparents, always heartwarming to hear their pride in their ancestors!!!

      • 35

        Alan said,

        Thank you so much for taking time to answer this, really appreciated. I will ask about the grandparents for sure. Thanks again, and happy teaching!

  34. 36

    Ryan Moore said,

    Hi,

    I’m a 23 year old American grad student in Russian and Eastern European Studies. Nerdvana, no? I’ll be in KZ in a little over a month for a couple of months. I was wondering if there was any advice about KZ you might have for someone who’s never been there? Feel free to email me.

    Ryan

  35. 37

    Ryan Moore said,

    Love the blog by the way!

    • 38

      kazaknomad said,

      Ryan, thanks for reading my blog and your compliment. Keep reading through it and looking at the photos, you might get a sense of what I see and know from a teacher’s point of view ever since the fall of 2007. Writing every day for nearly three years you will see what drum I keep banging. Read today’s post, you will see.

      Nerdvana, that’s a good one! Of course, in your studies you have probably encountered the book “Apples are from Kazakhstan” by Christopher Robbins or titled also as “The Land that Disappeared.” Easy read. I far prefer the first title and I have read portions of that book to my listening students. It’s chuck full of relevant facts from the Kazakh past, present and looking to the future. MUST read!

      Also, “Silent Steppe” is another MUST read so that you have a better understanding of what really happened before the Soviets took over with their policies that did not favor the Kazakh nomad. Of course, there are different opinions on this delicate topic, some good things happened on account of the Soviet Union but you have to know that 1/3 of this country was used as a penal system for outcasts from other republics of the USSR. That area for banishment was about the size of Texas, similar to Siberia, and was used to punish the dissenters of the Soviet system.

      You probably know all that already from your studies, but I want you to know that if you come to Kazakhstan and don’t understand this culture and how they operate, best to know what has happened to them in the past. Perhaps that is why I ask my Kazakh students to give me their stories about their grandparents. I learn so much from them. Once here in Kazakhstan, ask the taxi drivers and others about their family and their past. Ask and listen, you will have plenty of material to write home about.

  36. 39

    Gulsana said,

    Hello,Kazakhnomad!
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions about my country. I am glad that there are western people like you who are actually appreciate KZ and know so many things about KZ traditions and culture…Even though I am a Kazakh girl, born and raised in KZ, I am not ashamed to confess that I am learning from you a lot about my country(sighing..). Thanks to you, I have come up with great ideas, such as interviewing my grandparents and making a family video about my family’s heritage. I will keep the video and hope to pass it to my kids and their kids.
    I also wanted to add that there are some westerners out there who make sarcastic jokes, criticize and stereotype us(found some on facebook). And it really makes me upset, but oh well…I guess those jerks inhabit every country/nation and I think I can relate them to your “favorite blogger” Rustem (smirking).
    Anyways, thank you again, Kazakhnomad!I hope to meet you one day and I think it is very possible.

    Best wishes,
    Gulsana
    P.S. my name in English—(Beautiful(sana) flower(gul))…”blushing”

    • 40

      Kazakhnomad said,

      Gulsana, I feel so HAPPY that you commented on my blog, your words have very rich meaning to me. First, because you have accepted my challenge that I gave to the ladies yesterday at the International Women’s Club to ask questions of your elders (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc) about your family NOW while they are still alive and have a memory of such things. Videotaping is even better but going through old photos and documenting the names and the dates and places are key too. Maladetz!!!
      Second, my not so favorite commenter Rustem has his comments deleted as is true of all people who write in Russian. This is a blog written in English about the Kazakh culture from MY perspective as an American. Of course, I’m not going to get some things right, it will go through my westerner grid. But I am open to learn and to be corrected.
      Third, as an American, of course, there are hateful things said about us, terrible stereotypes. I am sorry that there are cruel things said about Kazakh people, but you are right jerks inhabit all the world.
      Finally, if you live in Astana, maybe we will meet some day. I LOVE your English meaning of your name.
      Again, thanks for posting your comment, your English writing is VERY good!!!

  37. 41

    I’ve written extensively on Solzhenitzen and his time in Central Asia. Your webpage is interesting.

  38. 42

    kazaknomad said,

    Thanks, I’d be interested to know what this very fine, Russian writer had to write about Kazakhs. He did not have too many good things to write about Ukrainians. I’d appreciate any thoughts you have learned about Central Asia while researching Solzhenitzen and his time spent in Kazakhstan.

  39. 43

    Lucy said,

    Hello. we’ve just written about you on our Blogs of the World section, which highlights blogs about different cultures all over the world. I’ve enjoyed getting to know your blog and learning more about Kazakhstan. Here’s the link to the post – please let me know if there is any problem, or any correction needed.

    http://pocketcultures.com/blogsoftheworld/2010/09/02/take-another-look-at-kazakhstan/

    • 44

      kazaknomad said,

      Thanks Lucy, your website looks good! I hope others enjoy the different cultures you feature. Of course, Kazakhstan is the best!

  40. 45

    Nicole said,

    I just stumbled upon your website. It is wonderful. My husband and I have BAs in Russian & Eastern European Studies. Although I never had much of an ear for the language as my husband, I had a great love of the regional geography and literature. Some years after leaving school, my husband and I adopted from Kazakhstan. My love from afar 🙂 brought us to Kazakhstan. We spent 6 wonderful weeks in country meeting & learning about our daughter and her homeland. Its an absolutely beautiful country that is sort of a hidden gem. Unfortunately we spend most of our time in the north, in the dead of winter so we didn’t see nearly as much as we would have liked, although the beauty of snow on birch trees can take your breath away. Anyway sorry for my ramblings. Just wanted to let you know that I love your blog and am looking forward to reading your old entries.

  41. 46

    kazaknomad said,

    Thanks Nicole, always nice to get positive reviews about what I experience and then write about in Kazakhstan. Yes, this country IS a hidden gem and if only people, like you and your husband, would come for not only the adventure but also loving children who have been put in orphanages, we would all be a richer world. As it is, there are many sad, sad stories about children that might have a disability that can easily be remedied with immediate medical attention, instead the parents put them in orphanages because they can’t afford the operation or medicine. I hope your daughter grows to be a strong girl who knows her heritage, though I suspect she might not be Kazakh if you were in the northern part of Kazakhstan. In any case, thanks again for your upbeat feedback!

  42. 47

    Dianne C said,

    We are the parents of a Tatar boy adopted from Karaganda in 2001 to USA. I have read some things about Tatar people in Karaganda, mostly that they came from Crimea area around the Black Sea, and were forcibly removed by Stalin to a gulag in Karaganda. I don’t have much other information. Reading your blog about your trip to the memorial was interesting. I try to give him as much information about his family’s history as I can, to fill that void. Thank you for sharing something quite painful, but important to the history of people in Kazakhstan.

  43. 48

    kazaknomad said,

    Dianne, perhaps you would like to take a trip to Sevastopol area of Ukraine or to see Yalta where important decisions were made with Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt. It is very beautiful along the Black Sea coast and so the Tatar people are amazing, those who still exist. I’ve had a few students who are Tatar and I perhaps have their stories in this blog, I don’t recall. In any case, it is true that there has been MUCH pain in this part of the world including the Karaganda region. The gulag system was HUGE in KZ and yet we always hear about Siberia. Tell your boy he comes from good stock, his ancestors suffered much to be torn from a very beautiful land along the Black Sea and put in the middle of the steppe in Kazakhstan. I’ve been to both areas. I just wish I knew more about the Tatar people.

  44. 49

    Maria said,

    Hello, I’m Maria and I’m writting from Poland. I’m looking for ANY informations about two polish climbers, lost in Kazakhstan in August 2010. One of them is my husband. Please, read my webside: lostinkazakhstan.blogspot.com
    Thank You. Maria

  45. 50

    Abay Otar said,

    Hello, I don’t understand. Are you kazakh or not?

  46. 51

    kazaknomad said,

    Abay, sorry for your confusion (you have a very strong Kazakh name!) As you can see at the top of this blog, I am a westerner and give MY perspective. Do I have to be a Kazakh to have the screen name of Kazakhnomad? I don’t think so because there are so few who are representing the Kazakh nation in English. We, as westerners, will never know much about your country if you write in Kazakh or if people don’t write anything at all about your great country. Keep writing in English, keep informing the best parts of your land and we will ALL benefit in the blogosphere.

  47. 52

    Zeynep said,

    Greetings from Seattlle, my name is Zeynep Tufekcioglu (from Turkey) and I have been looking for such a blog for a long long time and today I have spent hours reading and will hopefully finish reading your entries soon. I have been connected to Almaty through my husband since 2009 and just like you, we have also communicated via Skype and emails. I am doing my PhD in Germany and currently enrolled at the University of Washington as a visiting student. Therefore, i am also into education very much…and here may not be the appropriate place, but i’d like to ask you for your suggestions for finding an English speaking nanny in Almaty. I am currently pregnant and will soon move permanently to Almaty so that we can be a full family. However, I will have to continue my PhD -at home- but will soon need someone to help me look after the baby. Since I do not speak Russian or Kazakh, I prefer someone i can communicate with in the English language, preferably a native speaker…im thinking you may know someone? thank you very much in advance. You can reply to my email account if you like…and thank you for this wonderful blog!!!

  48. 53

    ESA said,

    Dear Kazakhnomad:

    I am a recent PhD grad and have been offered a position at a university in KZ. I was wondering if I could touch base with you and your husband about your experiences in Kazakhstan and to ask if you know anything about the school that I’ve been offered a position at? Any help would be appreciated… Thanks ahead of time!

  49. 54

    kazaknomad said,

    Dear Esa, thanks for your inquiry. I would say that you should be very wary of the contract you sign with this university no matter what city it might be in. They will have to have it translated into Kazakh, Russian AND English which is time consuming. But the most important thing to have in this contract is the assurance that the university will pay for your RT ticket to and from the U.S. (KLM or Lufthansa can be pricey at about $1,500 or $2,000 depending on origin of trip). Also, the flats can be quite expensive so make sure the university provides housing for you. The contracts that we know in the West are to be adhered to, the mentality elsewhere and especially in the former Soviet Union is that contracts are made to be manipulated and sometimes changed without due warning to the professor. A slime-ridden business indeed, negotiating contracts in Central Asia.

  50. 55

    (Khadija) said,

    Hello! I work for an interpreting agency in Minneapolis. We just got a request in for a Kazakh interpreter to assist a hospital patient who does not speak English. The appointment is for Wednesday, June 8th at 8:30am and unfortunately, we do not have anyone who speaks this rare language on our staff at this time.
    If you know of anyone in the Twin Cities area that speaks Kazakh fluently, please urge them to give us a call. We would be happy to answer any questions should they be willing to help someone out in their community.
    Thank you in advance for your help.

  51. 56

    kazaknomad said,

    Sorry I got this at such a late notice, I know of some people who speak Kazakh in the Twin Cities area but it is now 1 1/2 hours before the appointment. I’m surprised that this particular Kazakh person doesn’t know any Russian. It is rare that someone from Kazakhstan would come to the U.S. and not have a grasp of Russian and ONLY speak Kazakh. I’m sure you have enough Russian speakers in your listings to call on. Perhaps it is a young person from the rural areas of KZ, I hope their appointment goes well. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help to you.

  52. 57

    Emily said,

    Hello! My husband and I are thinking about relocating to Almaty. We would like to get some information on what it is like to live there including the current cost of living, etc. It seems recent information is not so easy to find. I would really appreciate it if you could send me a personal email to discuss this further when you have the time. Great blog by the way! Look forward to hearing from you.

  53. 58

    kazaknomad said,

    Thanks for reading my blog, I hope that you can make an informed decision about going to Almaty. The cost of living IS high in Almaty especially the higher up the mountain you go to avoid the pollution that hangs in the valley below. Housing is premium but it IS beautiful if you find just the right place. If you read all my entries from the first two years I was living in Almaty starting the fall of 2007, you will get an idea about the climate and what I did on a teacher’s salary. The airfares in and out of Almaty are pricey and you WILL want to do some traveling around the countryside. Hope that helps.

  54. 59

    MNTeacher said,

    Hey kazaknomad! I am a teacher in MN and I was just offered a job in Astana, at the new University, and am not at all sure what to expect. My accommodations on campus are being built as we speak and I am supposed to be in country in about 10 weeks. Since this job was offered, I am wondering if you have any experience or information about Astana, KZ you can tell me. Any information about that or what I might need to bring would be greatly appreciated. I know it is hard to do in a public forum, but it is a start…

  55. 60

    kazaknomad said,

    Minnesota has a very fine tradition of producing GREAT teachers and I am glad you have accepted this teaching post in Astana, Kazakhstan. Simultaneously a challenge and a wonderful opportunity to experience a very dynamic culture on the move. First, I would recommend that you read as much as you can about the history of KZ, for starters “The Silent Steppe” and also Christopher Robbins “Apples are from KZ.” Once in country you will be so busy with the coursework that is expected from you as an English teacher, that you won’t have much of a chance to read up on this fascinating place. Second, I hope also that you have a chance to ask your Kazakh students about their grandparents and what they went through in the Soviet past. They have an enormous respect for their elders and that goes for their teachers as well. They will LOVE you if you first show that you LOVE them and are not there in their country for the money. Many DO come with that as their motive but understand that there are many Kazakh people in the rural areas of KZ who are sacrificing much while the two cities of Almaty and Astana look glitzy and bright with promise. I could go on and on…but suffice to say that you will experience cold weather. But being from MN, you will be hardened to that grim reality. Finally, bring your sense of humor along, you will need it when you experience things inside and outside of the classroom that make no sense at all.

  56. 61

    Батырхан said,

    How I got here I don’t remember but I was more than surprised to find such a pleasant and thought-provoking blend of insights, humour, personal stories, philosophical and all kinds of other write-ups of someone who truly loves Kazakhstan and its people.

  57. 62

    batirkhan said,

    Oh yeah, I absolutely love all the photo entries too – Astana, people, events etc

  58. 63

    kazaknomad said,

    Thanks Batirkhan! Fun commenting back and forth with you on the different entries I have written over the past three and a half years of living in Kazakhstan. You should do the same with your newly adopted country, blog about it on WordPress. I’m glad you like my photos even though it is not taken with the best of digital cameras. I used photos when I blogged when I didn’t have anything to write about. Picture is worth a 1,000 words, so they say!

  59. 64

    Andy said,

    Dear Kazaknomad,

    I write on behalf of a group of 5 students with Stratchlyde University, Glasgow, Scotland. We are current international students undergoing a Masters in Business Administration. As part of the program, we are undertaking a “scenario planning” research work using Kazakhstan as a case study. Kazakhstan is very interesting to us due to it’s being the biggest country in Central Asia.
    We hope that you can provide us some insights to the questions we have through email.
    Regards

    • 65

      kazaknomad said,

      Andy, I would be happy to answer any questions you have about Kazakhstan. Although I am only an outsider looking in to a very complex country and thus have a rather narrow view of the country at large. Yes, Kazakhstan is a very large country and I only saw the tip of the iceberg with living 3 1/2 years in the two main cities of Almaty and Astana. I’ll do my best to accommodate you since I want as many people to know about this great country of Kazakhstan as possible and this seems a worthy cause. Cheers! Kazakhnomad

  60. 66

    hi lovely stories! i wanted to ask ur permission to use one of ur nelly painting pictures if thats ok?

    • 67

      kazaknomad said,

      Thanks, I’m glad you like my stories, I have MANY of them. Which Nelly Bube paintings are you interested in? You can simply google images most of them. But still I’m wondering which ones, just out of curiosity? (;-)

  61. 68

    JiHenn said,

    Dear Kazakhnomad,

    I’m a student currently doing an MBA course with a UK university. As part of an assignment we are doing research on Kazakhstan to envision several scenarios for the country.

    My group and I are interested to interview you perhaps on email? Would you like to take part in this interview?

    Thanks!

    • 69

      kazaknomad said,

      Dear JiHenn, Are you friends with Andy in a message above? Seems he wanted to do the same thing of “envisioning several scenarios.” What is that all about? I think you can just read my past blog posts and you will get a good sense of what Kazakhstan is like from an educational point of view. I can’t provide much info in the way of business or economics. Sorry, wish I could be of more help to you.

  62. 70

    JiHenn said,

    No worries Kazaknomad! THanks very much anyway. Will take some time to read the blog to gather some answers..
    thanksss!

  63. 71

    glennSKii said,

    hello…
    Nice blog! i will come back and read more.
    Here is mine from my time in VietNam, Poland, and the U.S. with my dogs…i hope you will take a look.
    glenn

  64. 72

    Michael Davies said,

    Interesting blog. I came across it while searching for where I might be able to buy a traditional carpet in Astana. I am going there soon for work and will have very little spare time. I saw in an earlier entry that you were thinking of buying a carpet. Did you find any? The only ones I can see on the WWW are in the Radisson Hotel, which does not promise a very local experience or good price.

    Michael Davies

  65. 73

    kazaknomad said,

    Michael, I bought my meter by two meter dowry carpet back in the summer of 1993 when I first went to Almaty, KZ. Back then I had no idea of its history and paid only $80 for it. Now I prize it. Every now and then there was a carpet dealer who came to the Radisson in Astana to sell his carpets during special events put on by the International Women’s Club. These sales of KZ crafts also happened when I lived in Almaty at the Intercontinental Hotel. I think this carpet seller is from Almaty. If you were to get in touch with someone in charge of either club, they will maybe get you through to someone who would know this carpet dealer’s contact numbers. You will find everything much more expensive in Astana, if possible you should try to fly into Almaty where you are much more likely to go to actual carpet shops and get the bartering experience with a better price. Hopefully they would ship it home for you. Sorry I can’t be of more help to you.

  66. 74

    Tracy Banks said,

    I’m a teacher looking to teach abroad. I found your blog as I began investigating Kazakhstan as an option. My recruiter sent me information on various openings in Kazakhstan, all of which entail “pioneering” in new schools. My interest was piqued! My husband and I, along with our son, began researching this mysterious place and are intrigued by it’s beauty and culture. But, as only a teacher can be, I am excited by the challenge presented in education reform, passionate about education (no matter the age group), and energized by the prospect of adventure and professional development that just cannot be beat. I don’t know if I’ll make the deadline for interviewing for September positions in Kazakhstan, but I am open and available to leave at any time. Your blog, your passion and dedication, have inspired me to pursue opportunities in that neck of the woods. I look forward to following Kazakhnomad.

    Tracy Banks

  67. 75

    kazaknomad said,

    Tracy, I’m flattered you want to follow my footsteps to Kazakhstan. It’s not an easy place to live or teach but there are many pioneering possibilities and opportunities to be found if you are up to the task. The Kazakh students are endearing and lovely while the educational system is trying to get back on its feet again. If you are ready for challenges of new ideas battling the entrenched old methodologies in the higher education institutions, then this may be your calling. You should only go if you are prepared to love those you work closely with, I mean the administrators and fellow Kazakh teachers. You will lose your heart to the students, that’s a given. I hope you make the deadline and you find yourself on the long flight over to the land of Kazakhs. Keep us updated on your status. Thanks for writing to me on this blog.

  68. 76

    Traveling guy said,

    Dear Kazaknomad!
    Thanks for an inspiring blog. I will be in Almaty in July and I’ve only been to Almaty once before and therefore I might have a few questions for you. I wonder: Would it be possible to receive your email-address? E.g. I would be interested in getting in touch with those of your students who told about their ancestors (incl. Abai), if that is possible. Hope you don’t mind me asking.

    • 77

      kazaknomad said,

      Hey, Traveling guy, I don’t mind your asking me these questions. Yes, I would love to try and help you but I am so far removed from any of my former students especially in Almaty. Many of them have different e-mail addresses and some of them have the mail.ru suffixes that no longer are operating. I wish I could be of better service to you but that is the reality of my being away from Almaty for over three years now. I keep in contact with many of my former students and colleagues in Astana and at NU.

      If you DO have a chance to get to Astana, I would highly recommend that you go to ALZHIR which is about 20 km west of the capital. A wonderful museum has been built to show where all the women of “Enemies of the People” were sent for 8-10 years of hard labor. These women were highly talented and brought in from all over the former Soviet Union. They lost their husbands first and then were separated from their children.

      Much sadness in stories can also be found in Dolinka about half hour drive from Karaganda where the KARLAG reigned supreme. If you want ancestor stories, you MUST travel there as well. I suppose if you have time to travel, then you should go to Semipalatinsk to find out more about Abai but that is also where the nuclear testing was done.

      One last thing that you should do is pick up a copy of “Apples are from Kazakhstan” by Christopher Robbins. It is a very delightful read about different aspects of present day reality with the backdrop of past cruelties under the Soviet system. Hope that helps. Have a GREAT time in Kazakhstan, the people are exceptionally warm and friendly!

  69. 78

    duman said,

    Hi Dear Kazaknomad!

    I really enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for doing this! I would like to share how I actually found your blog. I was searching on google if there were any kazakhs in Minneapolis, MN than you blog came out and I opened it and have been reading since then for 2 hours now. 🙂
    The reason I was looking for kazakhs in Minneapolis is because I and my wife will be moving to Minnesota from Texas at the end of this year.
    Anyway, I would love to get to know you and share some of my thoughts. Also, before I forget I just wanted to apologize for the kazakhs like Rustem or generally for kazakhs if there were any rudeness or any kinds of disrespect towards you. I am a kazakh born and raised in Almaty, KZ and I pray and hope that there will be change in our society, government, and peoples’ mentality. I love US just as I love my own country and people. Anyway, thank you very much for the blog. All I can say is keep up the good work and if you need any help from me I will be more than happy to help. Duman.

  70. 79

    kazaknomad said,

    Thanks Duman, I LOVE hearing from my Kazakh readers because it certainly informs me about what your thoughts are about MY perceptions of your country. Kazakhstan is a place close to my heart, I hope you can tell that from what I write. As in any country, there are people who are not so nice and others who go out of their way to be kind. It balances out. I’m glad you are moving to Minnesota, it is a wonderfully diverse state. However, you will not find the mountains of Almaty here!!! But there certainly is fresh air and freedom to breathe in. Yes, let’s try to find an opportunity to get together once you arrive to Minneapolis. I would love to meet your wife and hear more of your stories from you culture.

  71. 80

    iggy said,

    very interesting blog, i hope it stays “alive”
    thank you!

    cheers
    Iggy
    Vienna

  72. 82

    Olesya said,

    Good day! Very nice and thoughtful blog! it is so interesting to see Kazakhstan from a foreigners point of view. Is there anz chance zou could contact me via email in order to discuss something?

  73. 83

    Divingintoadventure said,

    Hi there,

    I am a teacher considering a contract for a school in Karaganda. Would you be able to email me some of your thoughts and observations on Karaganda as a city? It is difficult to find much about living there on the net! Thanks so much!

    • 84

      kazaknomad said,

      Diving into adventure, thanks for writing, I was in Karaganda for a conference at the university there and was treated very well by the teachers I met. Karaganda is a complex place to be with a very sad history. If you read about my side trip to Dolinka, you will understand better what might be lying under the surface in the people you come in contact with. Sorry I can’t be of more help. It is true there is not much about Karaganda out there in English, that is perhaps purposeful because there are sad stories to hide about the KARLAG system during the Soviet era.

  74. 85

    david said,

    Please notify me when your book comes out!

  75. 86

    Jenni said,

    Hi Kazakhnomad,

    I really enjoy your blog. My name is Jenni Boyle and I am an editor at an American educational product called CultureGrams, which is series of over 200+ country reports. I was wondering if you could assist me in updating our existing Kazakhstan report. We pay about $200.

    Regards,

    Jenni

  76. 87

    kazaknomad said,

    I am glad I answered Jenni’s post. Indeed, I DID get paid the $200 for the assistance I gave to CultureGrams. Thanks also to my Kazakh friends who gave me reliable information about their country to give a fuller view of Kazakhstan. I want many other people, who are curious about Central Asia, to know the TRUE character of the Kazakh people.

  77. 88

    […] topic of the Western view (read Anglo-Saxon), a Western blogger calling herself oddly Kazakhnomad, (living in the bustling city of Alma Aty, not the most amazing nomadic place is it?) saying that […]

  78. 89

    […] on that topic of the Western view (read Anglo-Saxon), a Western blogger calling herself oddly Kazakhnomad, (living in the bustling city of Alma Aty, not the most amazing nomadic place is it?) saying that […]

  79. 90

    David said,

    Dear Kazakhnomad,

    thanks a lot for your very interesting and personal views on Kazakhstan, I enjoyed your articles. As a landscape photographer I´m always looking for new inspiring places around the world and thus finally I got in touch with Kazakhstan. This year I visited Kazakhstan for the first time and I was really impressed by the beauty and diversity of landscape and nature and also the kindness of Kazakh people. Sure, within a few weeks I only got to know the peak of the iceberg, but already that was more then impressing. So I am really surprised that only few westerners know about this remarkable country and that there is not very much information in English. So I´m glad, I found this blog.

    Best regards from Germany,
    David

    Btw: if you are interested, you find some of my Kazakhstan pictures here: http://www.davidkoester.de/destination-bilder/kasachstan/

  80. 91

    madina said,

    I love your blog! thank you for your honesty and sincerity!

  81. 92

    Meagan Dill said,

    Hi there!

    I work for a website called Expat Arrivals and I was wondering if you might be interested in contributing to our Kazakhstan guide? We’re always on the look-out for fresh and authentic voices and your blog caught my eye. If you’re interested, please feel free to pop me an email at the address I’ve included in this comment.

    Thanks!
    Meagan

  82. 93

    Leonid Levin said,

    Hi Kazach Nomad!

    I’ve been taken to your blog by chance, while pursuing a different line of research. I was about to leave it, when I came across some of your disparaging remarks about the former Soviet Union. You write about the cruelties of the Soviet system, its cruel domination of Central Asia, etc. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I perceive a deep anti-Soviet sentiment in your writing.

    I come from White Russia (Biélorussie), former USSR. Born in 1973, I was lucky to experience life both before and after the fall of the Soviet Union. Myself a member of a minority (Jewish), I and my family faced some of the less pleasant aspects of Soviet society. And yet I will tell you one very important thing: the vast majority of Soviet people lived much better, secure and fulfilled lives than under the neo-liberal regimes of today. I am sure if you would ask them, the overwhelming majority of the former Soviet citizens would go back to the USSR without a moment’s hesitation.

    We, the Soviet people, built, on the ruins of feudal Russian empire, a new country, with new ideals of brotherhood, internationalism, equality, better future for all mankind. We provided free primary, secondary and higher education, health care, children daycare, housing to all people regardless of their social status, income, nationality. We built great science, industry, culture, which profited the whole population and not just a chosen few.

    We had to defend ourselves from Western powers, who right from the start we determined to strangle the young Soviet Republic. We went though a devastating war against the Nazi’s, suffering immeasurable casualties. And after the war, our “allies”, who let us bleed until 1944, only joining the war fearing they will lose all of Europe to the Soviets, these so-called “allies” turned against us, realizing the enormous appeal of our system to the working and oppressed populations of the world.

    Unfortunately, gradually the elites that formed in the higher echelons of power became enamoured of the idea of market economy, which would allow them to monetize their power. Mercantile ideals became prevalent among the so-called “intelligentsia” and wider population. We, myself included, listening to the radio Liberty/Svoboda and other propaganda, started to disparage our own history and achievements, betrayed the ideals of brotherhood, equality and internationalism. Party elites and various nationalist movements in the republics smelled the blood and decided to take power, turning overnight into the new tzars, leaving the betrayed population to suffer under enormous misery of the so-called “liberal” reforms, massive pillage (called “privatization”) of our common wealth, corruption, crime, ethnic violence, destruction of industry, education, health care, etc.

    We betrayed our forefathers, who payed a huge price with their lives and hard work so that we can live a better life. We betrayed billions of poor around the world, who looked up to us for inspiration and help. We betrayed our culture, songs, literature, heritage for cheap glitter, trash music, and other “heights” of western civilization.

    We are in the rut, we have nothing to show except privatized, pillaged natural resources and cheap labour. The great social experiment called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics failed. But history repeats itself, and mankind devastated by the neo-liberal policies of Western powers, of trans-national corporations, of their local lackeys in the form of greedy national elites, will turn back to Marx and Lenin. Everything will have to be built from scratch, great sacrifices will have to be made again. But there is no other way than for the exploited of the world to rise and build a new society of equality, social justice and peace.

    Workers of the world unite!

    P.S. And good luck with your writing!


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