Posts tagged Asian Winter Games

Photos from Borovoye (Part III)

My body is finally back to normal after the 300 meter x-country race I “won” on Saturday in the pine forests of Borovoye.  I’ve never raced before, just always considered x-country skiing as a solitary sport out in our back woods in Minnesota.  Yes, I suppose the Asian Winter Games has inspired everyone to compete in winter sports. I think everyone at my university thought how could an “old lady” like me beat some other athletes?  Yeah, good question which my aching muscles the next few days were crying out for a reasonable answer.  Well, I could load my readers down with more amazing facts about Borovoye from travel brochures translated into English, but I think the photos will do for now.

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Potpourri of Astana Photos

Today, my PDP class is going to ALZHIR (Women’s gulag in the 1930s-1950s for wives of Enemies of the People). This museum is about 10 miles out of the city of Astana and so I’ll have photos to show from that field trip tomorrow.  For today I’ll show photos that I didn’t use before but will now, it is on my jump drive and I have too much to write so my fall back is to show photos.  What I REALLY regret is that I didn’t get the photos I should have of the Asian Winter games billboards.  I saw them every day when I would ride to work, I had NO idea that the people would pull them down so quickly.  If I don’t act quickly I won’t even get the photo billboard of Dennis Ten at one of the busstops.  I did get a small poster of the snow leopard poster at the Ramstore.  However, that is nothing compared to the colorful, abstract billboards of figure skaters, hockey players and speed skaters.  Rats!  I was too slow on the draw!

Below is the inside of the arena that looks like a bikers helmet on the outside.  What I really would like to write about but don’t feel I have enough information is about the polylingual issues that are taking up people’s attention, especially today.  I’ll miss most of a seminar that is about how to improve the problems of Kazakh language teaching methods, problems of teaching English to polylingual students, learning Russian as a mother tongue and as a second or third language and finally the vision of the Model and Concept of trilingual education.  All complex issues and there will be a brainstorming session about it at the end.  All this I’ll miss because we already scheduled this fieldtrip to ALZHIR about a month ago.  I hope the roads are safe from all ice and snow.  Note the books in Russian and Kazakh that I have on my bookshelves.

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What else I learn from my adult learner students

The other day was a potpourri of various talents who showed up for English practice that is meant for advanced speakers once a week.  Some of these university employees were more shy to speak up once the talkative ones found their stride.  Represented were those from Center for Energy Research, Economics, Admissions, Legal department, Strategic planning and the Library.  We got on the topic of occupations as a kind of carry-over from the week before when we discussed teachers and builders.

The conversation went all over the place from talking about Kazakhstan’s sports like boxing, football and hockey to the recent Asian Winter games to Tour de France, to Roza Bagnalova’s son to the profession of policemen to the upcoming presidential election.  Finally an hour was up and we were talking about Olympics and the Goodwill Ambassador Vladimir Smirnoff who represented Kazakhstan.

One of them asserted that the most popular professions in Kazakhstan are lawyers and economists, especially looking at what students are majoring in for their subjects at university.  Others didn’t agree so we quickly moved into sports.  Apparently the most famous footballer is Pele whose name means “useless” or perhaps “crafty.”  We talked a long time about his name and how his name means smart but doesn’t let on that he is, like in Russian (heat-tree.) I can’t tell from my notes because I had to write fast with six people all having an opinion about this athlete.  Supposedly he was quoted as saying that if Russia wins the World Cup, then Brazil will have a hockey team in hell.  Something like that, like I said, my notes after trying to decipher them 24 hours later leave much to guess work.

This I DO know they talked about and was new information for me, that the Klitschko brothers who are so famous in Ukraine for their boxing feats were actually born in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. Their father was a military man and it is said as a kind of joke, I’m not sure if this actually happened.  One of the Klitschko brothers ran into Sasha Cohen in New York City, who made that despicable movie about Kazakhstan (which really wasn’t true to Kazakhstan and was filmed in Romania).  Anyway, since Klitschko is really a Kazakhstani, he had some strong words for Cohen and it put the fear into him.  You don’t want to mess with a boxer if you get him riled. Maybe this was just a joke but the point is, that the film has done little to bring good repute to Kazakhstan.

One thing that was supposed to bring Kazakhstan’s reputation up a notch or two was the Tour de France that was won by a Spaniard Cantador while he was biking for Team Astana last year.  We shall see who will rise from the Kazakh athletes to take over in cycling.  A nice stadium that was built just down the road from the university for the ice skating for the Asian games is really for cycle races.  It looks like a bike helmet from the outside.

We moved on to what all Kazakh people know internally but is little known in the western world about Roza Baglanova who died just last week.  She was a much loved singer and represented Kazakhstan in the former Soviet Union.  Apparently one of my adult learner “students” went to school with her son Tarzhen.  When he was born his grandparents went to register him with a good Kazakh name but when the father found out about it, he was furious and had it changed to a good communist name, Tarzhen. I’m unsure of the meaning but it sounds like Tarzan to me.  Apparently Tarzhen didn’t follow in his mother’s footsteps in music but his father’s as a businessman.  He is entrepreneur and his quiet and keeps to himself, a good father of 3-4 children.

Then we got into the subject of names of Kazakh children and what it was like in the past if you wanted to appear politically correct.  I mentioned that during the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s many young girls were called “Hong” for Red.  Someone said it was true in the USSR’s past that many had the names related to Lenin or Marx.  One poor lad was named after Albert Gore after he visited Kazakhstan.  With the Asian games now over, some girls are called Aizada (Asia) or boys might be called “Summit” after the OSCE summit last December. Or parents might use the word “Khan” or “Bai” or Abai going back to ancient times.  Some babies are given the name of the day of the week that they were born.  This has deep Kazakh roots to give names that honor an event.  Being BORN is an event here in Kazakhstan!

Somehow our conversation was directed back to occupations and several of these Kazakh people drive cars, so we talked about policemen.  After a Kazakh driver is stopped by a man with a white and black baton, the requisite forms are filled out. Some said they never pay a fine and talk their way out off whatever ticket.  Others who are in a hurry will pay the bribe just to get back on the road again.  You see, if you don’t want to go through all the steps of going to the bank and the police office to get the necessary paperwork down, you can give 1,000 or 2,000 tenge to the officer. However, this is NOT usually done directly, it might be slipped into a book or it might be left in the back seat of the squad car.

If you were to pay directly and officially with all the extra time spent to do it, it would cost about 6,500 tenge.  In the capital city of Astana it is not as bad to pay bribes to police officers as down in the south of Kazakhstan, like in Almaty. Perhaps this doesn’t happen in Astana because the police are more tightly controlled or they have other more important functions to deal with such as security for the president and other VIPs.  Maybe they are better paid than those officers to the south.

We talked of other things of course, such as the football match with Tartastan where the Dutch played in Moscow and the temps were -20 C and they played in the cold and mud with a score of 2-0.  Better than the score during the Asian games where a hockey match was 30-0. That would have been no fun to watch but one of my “students” witnessed that lopsided game.  Others saw the same ice skaters I did and we all talked about the opening ceremony.  I was surprised that one Kazakh woman didn’t even watch the Asian Games Opening ceremony on her t.v. I think she is too busy with her job and raising a family.

That’s it, from Lake Kaz-be-gone.

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Asian Winter Games photos (Part II)

This decision, as I alluded to in yesterday’s blog, for speeding up the Kazakhstan elections came on Feb. 3rd, just last week so that is probably why I didn’t know about it. We were all caught up in the Asian Winter Games.  Here are more photos from this past weekend.  The security was not as tight to get into the skating arena as they had been for the Opening Ceremony.  What was interesting was that I had to take a photo of a Kazakh volunteer to prove that my little digital camera was just that and not something else.  What else, I don’t know.  Once the guard saw her colleague’s photo, then I was waved through the x-ray thing like all airports use.  The volunteers were very helpful for helping us find our seats and it was GREAT to be in an ice arena that doubles for a bike racing arena as well.  The outside of this structure looks like a biker’s helmet.  Inside we had a wonderful view of the women’s figure skaters and the men’s free skating events. I think everyone has been inspired to pick up skiing or skating now after all this energy was expended in the competitions.  I know we all felt inspired to go out to skate on the river this past Sunday morning.

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Photos from the Asian Winter Games

This photo shows the stadium that held 30,000 spectators for the opening event on Sunday, January 30.  I see this complex going to work every day. Like I blogged about yesterday, we almost have nothing to look forward to after the OSCE conference last December  and the Asian Winter games that just finished this past Sunday.  Except now Kazakhstan will have the national elections coming up this April, which is earlier than normal. I think it has been bumped up a year and half ahead of schedule!!!  That should be interesting but this blog is about all the GREAT photos from the amazing event.  So no more commentary on the latest development here in Astana, not until I know more!!!  

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End of Asian Winter Games and More Positive Quotes (Part III)

The Asian Winter games are over in Kazakhstan and it is starting to feel like spring is in the air.  But as a seasoned Minnesotan who has experienced winters only too well (or not too well), we could still get another blizzard and still have temperatures take a nosedive in the double digits well below zero in Astana.  I enjoyed watching the women’s figure skating on Friday when I went with my friend to the stadium that looks like a bike helmet for racers like Lance Armstrong. Of course the Kazakh crowd went crazy over their own skater named Abzal in the men’s free skating.  He did an act to the sound of “Circus” and wore an outfit that Michael Jackson would have been proud to wear, colorful and showman-like.  He won with all his spins and jumps and despite one fall got the highest score.  I was surprised that he did so many jumps during his warm-ups but he had a Kazakh crowd to please and they LOVED him!

First impressions are not always right, there was one Japanese girl who looked really choppy and NOT graceful in her warmups along with the other 4-5 skaters on the ice.  She skated more like a guy but it paid off in her performance.  In any case, she was fast and she put on quite a show and she won me and the crowd over.  What a remarkable performance by many of the athletes from the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, China to name just the ones I can remember.  The scoreboard showed the name of the skater, their best score of the season, who their coach was, the musical number used as the background music.  I really enjoyed watching this event.  I saw so many people I knew during the intermission and talked to others that enjoyed it as much as my friend and I did.  Hopefully, a good time was had by ALL sports participants in Astana and Almaty.  I haven’t heard what the final tally of medals were but I’m sure with “home court advantage,” Kazakhstan probably won.

Japanese proverb – “One kind word can warm three winter months.”

Charles F. Kettering – “The opportunities will go to the men and women who have enthusiasm.”

Thomas Edison – “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

Margaret Hulsey – “Some people talk simply because they think sound is more manageable than silence.”

“The only dumb question is the one that isn’t asked.”

William James – “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

Henry Brooks Adams – “They know enough who know how to learn.”

Joseph Joubert – “To teach is to learn twice.”

Peter Ustinov – “What is education but a process by which a person begins to learn how to learn.”

Sophocles – “The reasonable thing is to learn from those who can teach.”

Anna Freud – “Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.”

Margery Wilson – “It has been proved that the deepest yearning of the human heart is for recognition, for honor.”

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Critical Comment on my Blog and Positive Quotes

No one likes to get criticism unless it is meant to be constructive and said in love.  I got a vaguely caustic comment from some Aliya in the U.S. who has a Russian “ru” e-mail address.  Presumably she is Kazakh and maybe on a Bolashak scholarship or on some other scholarship at some American university.  In any case, she felt entitled to call herself “Anti” and give me some negative feedback.  Fine, I just deleted her comment because I didn’t know what she was referring to and what she was so “ANTI” about.  I used to get critical comments on my blog in Russian but now my dissenters are becoming more bold in English.  That’s fine, bring it on.

Today I am thinking ahead to a month from now when I will have expatriates of the international community come out to our university to listen to my ten students give their ppt presentations on their research topics.  This will raise the bar to have native speakers of English and other ambassador’s wives from various countries come and listen and give their critiques and evaluations of each speech.  I believe they are in for a treat because my students are up to the task, their English is VERY good and their research topics are compelling!

I thought the following were appropriate for my Professional Development students to think about as they gear up for their speeches:

Andrew Carnegie – “As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say.  I just watch what they do.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson – “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

Henri Fauconnier – “In the last resort, nothing is ridiculous except the fear of being so.”

Mark Twain – “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”

Dale Carnegie – “Remember, fear does not exist anywhere except in the mind.”

Winston Churchill– “Courage…is the quality which guarantees all others.”

Marcus Aurelius – “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson – “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”

Samuel Johnson – “Self confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.”

John G. Shedd – “I like a man who bubbles over with enthusiasm.  Better be a geyser than a mud puddle.”

Mary, Queen of Scots – “We are not who we are but what is said of us and what we read in others’ eyes.”

I feel sorry for Aliya, the Sourpuss, who must be miserable where she is studying.  She probably wants to be back with her family and friends in Kazakhstan and is having difficulty adjusting to life in the U.S.  She is missing a wonderful time here in Astana and Almaty with the Asian Winter Games going on.  Be positive Aliya, think positive!!!

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