Posts tagged Abay Kunanbaev

“You Want to Read Good Student Essays, Don’t You?”

I recall a conversation last spring semester I had with a teacher when I was NOT teaching reading and writing classes.  I had observed from the outside what the Kazakh teachers were doing in their classrooms by showing their students how to access information in the library computer lab.  Prior to this I had given several workshops to the teachers on how to use the electronic research databases from our great library.  I showed them the luxury of having Ebscohost, Pro-Quest and J-Stor on their campus and that the students would be able to use keywords to access information of interest to them.  I believe in a student-centered approach that if you can ignite the students’ interest in whatever they are looking up, they won’t see it as an onerous task but one of benefit to them.  

The first week of class this fall semester, I wanted to find out about what my own students’ grandparents or great grandparents had gone through in their years of growing up. When I taught freshman composition in the U.S. I had my students interview their grandparents and write down the hardships they endured, such as surviving the Great Depression.  NOTHING compares in solving those past difficulties to what the Kazakh people encountered, the Americans had it much easier.  But it is all in one’s perspective and I greatly respect what the Kazakhs have gone through in the last 100 years. I had one Kazakh student whose grandmother as an 18 year old bride was sent to ALZHIR as a wife of the Enemy of the People.  She survived ten years of grueling, manual labor.  A third of the population of women did not survive the cold hardships in the Astana area back during the years of repression.


The conversation I had with one teacher last semester went something like this:

Teacher-centered: Poor me, I have so many students and so many papers to grade.

Student-centered: You want to have good essays to read, don’t you?  Are you making sure your students are finding good material in the electronic databases to write about?

Teacher-centered: I don’t know how I’m going to survive this semester with all the papers I have to look at, I’m swamped.

Student-centered: Have the students picked good topics that they are engaged in?  Do they have enough sources to get them thinking about the topic and its issues from different angles?  You want to have good essays to read, don’t you?

Teacher-centered:  You keep saying having good essays to read, why do you say that?

Student-centered: Because if you want to enjoy your work as a teacher, you have to make sure that the students enjoy what they are doing.  If the student just does the essay because he is supposed to do it a certain way according to your guidelines which makes it easier for YOU to grade, he will see it as drudge work.  However, if he finds out the joy of discovering information that is out there in the journal articles, then you may have a budding researcher. But at the very least you have a student who doesn’t pay attention to how much time he is spending on his paper. Part of the skills learned in Process Writing is that the thesis statement might go in a different direction from what was initially supposed OR the outline might have to remain fluid due to what the student finds and reads.  Writing should be a joy and not a painful experience.  Your job as a teacher can be a joy too!!!

I had one student whose great grandfather was the famous Kazakh named Abay and another student whose grandfather was a mathematician and he survived 15 years in a Siberian gulag.  I believe my students enjoyed their final portfolio experience. The following is just a sampling of what my hard working students wrote for their final problem/solution portfolio project.

“Second World War, Social Organization”

“Overcoming Famine and Starvation with pure honor and hope during WWII”

“Life during the Collectivization and Repression 1920s-1930s”

“Role of Patriotism during the Great Patriotic War”

“Economic and Job Opportunity Problems during Soviet Union Period”

“Soviet Education: Abay Kunanbayev and Kazakh Enlightenment”

“The Gulag and its Victims in the Soviet penal system”

Leave a comment »

Aray’s Grand Heritage and Her Illustrious Grandfather

Life is short and it is necessary to spend it beneficially in order not to regret about those days which you wasted. But I’m lucky, because I set up my own aims and quietly achieve it. This type of character I inherited from my ancestors: my father, my mother and my grandparents. My grandfather Baltabek Yersalimov is grand nephew of the greatest Kazakh poet and minder Abay Kunanbaev.

This year my grandfather celebrates his 70 jubilee. But in spite of that he remains working, doing social work. Now he is a director of Abay Kunanbaev’s fund. He released 5 books dedicated to his people. Although he began to work 59 years ago, being 11 years old boy he was ferrying the cattle from Mongolia into Kazakhstan. According to his stories, I understood that it was very hard and adult work. And at night he used to smoke strong tobacco in order not to fall asleep, because he had to guard the cattle from wild wolfs.  Even during his study he also worked hard to provide for his family. He worked as the courier. In spite of that, he finished school with the highest marks. But he didn’t have an opportunity to study in university during the day time. Then he entered KazGu externally to the faculty of journalism.

After graduating from the university he began to work in regional press, where he showed himself as the responsible, devoted, demanding, at first to himself, worker. And immediately he earned the respect of all the staff, which in future will choose him as the leader. He had been working as the director of the press for ten years. Then he already had four sons and my grandmother was expecting the fifth child. I’d like to describe that moment, when he came to maternity home to congratulate his wife with a girl.  Back then there wasn’t any machine to diagnose the sex of the child. But everyone predicted him a girl. He really wanted a girl. So, he was standing at the reception, with a bunch of flowers and box of candies, hoping to hear those cherished words:” Congratulations, it’s a girl!” instead he heard: “Congratulations, it’s a boy!” … ! He had unlimited disappointment inside of him. He dropped the flowers on the floor, gave the candies to the nurse and went home. Now, of course he doesn’t regret that he has five sons.

In the 20th century there was the leading party of the USSR – the party of communism, so my grandfather was one of the members of that party. He was very devoted and did all the commission. And at last he had been appointed the regional Philharmonic’s Society Director. Holding a high post he faced with the inside world of the theatre, with artists, who, in fact, are very difficult persons and relationships between them are difficult as well. It was everywhere and every time. So being not so old man he, having no experience with such people, he had to be with them and moreover led them. It was hard. When he was telling me about that time it seemed to me that I understand him. But on the other hand, he had a big opportunity to invite artists of all-union significance. They were: Anderey Mironov, Popanov, Leonov, Ksenia Georgiadi, and Nikulin …. Of course my father was happy to communicate with them. As a rule, after each concert, my grandfather invited all the artists to his home. Up to now he has the photos which remind him of that time.

On the whole my grandfather is an amazing person. When I was born my second grandmother advised my mother to let him name me his eldest granddaughter. He was very happy and treated with big seriousness. He wrote an official letter to my mother with congratulations and purposed her to name me Aray, which means beginning of the new life, birth of the new day. Giving me this name he blessed me. My parents are very grateful for him.

In October, 25 this year it is the Golden marriage of my grandparents. They had been living together for 50 years.  In this space they gave a birth and brought up five sons, eight grandchildren. Being the eldest one, I want to achieve all my heights and I want my parents to be proud of me.

Leave a comment »