Posts tagged Charity Bazaar

Where’s Walda at the annual Charity Bazaar?

I have too much to write about in Astana, Kazakshtan.  So putting up photos is the easiest thing to do and besides I’m having fun with the “Where’s Walda?” theme.  The Kazakh girl who did this didn’t even know such a book series exists in the U.S.  Where’s Waldo? is about a funny guy with glasses and a red stocking hat and a striped shirt who is very difficult to find in a crowd of people.  My nephew and I would devour the “Where’s Waldo?” books to not only find Waldo but even smaller objects.  If I find an example, I’ll put in tomorrow’s post.  Check out yesterday’s photos.

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Silent Taxi Driver and “Where’s Walda?”

Today, I had our other regular taxi driver, Yerik, shout after me to take his taxi or so I thought when I was about to wave down a gypsy cab to go to work. (see yesterday’s blog) Apparently Yerik and Yaheya are friends because Yerik jumped out of Yaheya’s car and indicated I should go with Yaheya.  Well, I thought this might be another talkative session going to work this morning, like yesterday, but he was silent today.  Does Yaheya read my blog?  OR do other people read it and let him know what a kick I get out of his monologue in Russian?  Anyway, since I don’t have much to report (though there is a backload of many things I could write about but no time to do it), I’ll use photos I got from someone who was at last weekend’s Charity Bazaar.  Apparently we made 8.6 million tenge in sales from all the booths and raffle tickets. That means charities around the Astana area will get a slice of the pie from about $58,500 total, if my math is correct.  That’s a LOT of money in one day of selling!!!  Where’s Walda?

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Why I Continue to Blog in Kazakhstan

Always nice to meet my blog readers as I did yesterday at Astana’s annual Charity bazaar.  I met an ambassador’s wife who was buying some books from our book table.  How she knew it was ME who wrote this blog, well it never came up. But she DID say she enjoyed reading my daily updates and asked where I got all my material.  I told her that I get much from my own Kazakh students or my classroom experiences. Some days I run a little dry, other days I have too much to write about and wonder which direction I should go.  Other things I experience as a western teacher in Kazakhstan remain unwritten and if it is important enough, it will pop up again.  She only owed us 1,000 tenge for the two books she bought, she ended up giving 5,000 tenge instead not wanting the change.  She knew this was for charity and she told me that my blog helped her to see Kazakhstan through western eyes which in turn helped her to like her new environment in flat Astana.

The other day I received an e-mail from a reader who is Kazakh but living in the U.S.  What a thrill for me to get her message about Kazakh rugs.  Tomorrow I will share with you about the reaction from my American friend who has been doing her own anthropological work on this very challenging topic.  This may help explain why I continue to blog in Kazakhstan, there is soooo much to write about and so few writers.

I did not edit anything from this message from the Kazakh woman, so that it will be convincing that this Kazakh woman is authentic in her earnestness to get the word out about the importance of Kazakhstan’s history being soon lost forever. She believes, as I do, that if more people don’t take up the cause of putting the fragments back together of this broken rug, the proud history of Kazakhstan will be lost forever. May that not be so…

“Dear Kazakhnomad, Thank you for your attention. Thank you for your blog. This is very important that you try to tell your story about new country.

I do feel like my country was forgotten at the edge of world history. And you open new corner of the history with your blog and the story of Kazakh rugs. I’m really grateful for this.

Soviet government didn’t allow any private business for any soviet citizen. This government plus KGB destroyed millions lives of rich farmers and businessmen in 20’s, then 30’s and made them a factory slaves of new Socialistic Industrial world.

Many of those farmers tried to live in villages and still be a hunters, farmers, to feel like a “free man on a free land”.

My granddad was one of them. He was a miner at first. He was working at Ural gold mining. ( Ural mountains or real name is Jayik, are north from Astana). And meanwhile my granddad was hunting and a small farm with 3 horses, 4 cows, 10 ships, 10 goats, and bunches geese, ducks and chickens. His wife and 10 kids were helping him to take care of their little farm.

So they all live in Russian part of our land. It was all Kazakhstan, lately teared apart by Soviet government.

My granddad would cut a ship’s hair, wash it, color different vegetable dies, and make Kilims, flatwoven carpets. He would probably make other carpets too, but he didn’t have a loom. It was almost impossible to find a loom at that times.

Once again, Soviet Government headed by KGB expropriated everything from farmers during “raskulachivanie”. This is a term Government created for their robbery of honest farmers.

So officially you won’t be able to find a law “no handwoven carpets”.  It was a law no profits, no Bazaars, no flea markets, no profits for private artisans. But people tried to survive after world war 2. They had baby boom and tried at least barter their art for food or clothing. So did my grandfather’s family. It cost him a life. He spent 6 years on WW2, but couldn’t survive “peaceful” Soviet time.

I do live now in USA. I love this land, Navaho arts reminds me a lot of my Kazakh arts.

Thank you for your kind view at my poor country. Poor, because many memorials of Kazakh history was stolen, destroyed, forgotten. Kazakh people do not remember their own REAL history now. Only old people, like my grandma, can tell a little.

I was lucky, I remember my greatgrandmom. She spoke Kazakh&Arabic, no Russian language. She couldn’t communicate with me.

I grew up with my grandmom and she thought me a little of her art.

I came to USA, and I was lucky to rediscover real Kazakh history.

SInce you live in Kazakhstan, you might be know that our culture is Turk’s. We are Turkic people. If you don’t know, you can google “Turkic people” at wiki. We look Mongolian, cause we mixed with Mongols. This is why our rugs look so similar to Turkish rugs, Uzbek rugs, Kurdish rugs. Armenian& Azeri people try to tell that geometrical Kazak rugs is their art. This is not true. But nobody even argue, because Kazakh people don’t remember their history anymore and not interested to protect their rights on Kazak rugs.

I know a little of this, because I was working with Turkish rug dealers. I like to google “Kazak rug” and see what is interesting in web. This is why I found your blog.

Thank you so much for your great job. I understood that you are American only after I posted my comment already, sorry.

I have another concern about Kazak rugs. I know some not very honest Western people who come to Kazakhstan get our antique rugs as a present from locals and collect them. This is not right to take an advantage of too kind and uneducated Kazakhs.

This is why I thank you so much for your great job. This is important to educate our people, to tell them how rich and great is their history. I wish they would make “Kazak rugs&Kilims” museum their and understand their real value.

I wonder what brought you to Astana and what state are you from? 🙂 I traveled a lot cross USA and learned a lot about this wonderful country and people. I actually think that USA and Kazakhstan are very alike and people are very similar too. Open, kind and smiley.

Pls keep in touch I’d be happy to talk to you more.”

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A continuation of yesterday’s blog entry…What I don’t understand is that I’m being flattered by some of my Kazakh teaching colleagues to give talks which will ultimately help them look good in front of their Kazakh students. Yet at the same time some of these same flatterers will run to my boss and say that I’m not teaching according to the syllabus or something else they deem wrong. Words, words, words!!! Other things that have been said against me have trickled back to me. I must rise above the fray.

Yes, I’m being complimented left and right about how I can lead seminars and workshops for my Kazakh colleagues so these same teachers can passively sit back and take it in while I actively put the talks together.  All the while trying to grade the rough draft papers that are supposed to hit my desk within this week and returned to my <100 students by the end of next week.  (My numbers in my five classes have dwindled somewhat dramatically since I gave out some dismal midterm grades several weeks ago.  I have an average of 16-17 showing up in each class that used to have 20 or more.)

Here is my schedule of speaking engagements and topics that I will deliver before the end of the semester:

Nov. 4, Today – AIWC (Almaty International Women’s Club)– “Violence against Women” with my MBA student from last semester presenting on what she found in our library’s electronic databases.

Nov. 11 Next Wed. – will lead 35 potential MATESOL students in a Computer Lab in a hands-on workshop “How to use electronic databases successfully” (Ebscohost, ProQuest, J-Stor)

Nov. 19 – talk to my Kazakh colleagues about the research I’ve done with my ESL, EFL and American students in the last 15-20 years regarding learning styles, multiple intelligence and temperament sorter inventories.

Nov. 24 – talk to these same Kazakh colleagues about the differences between student centered and teacher-centered paradigms

Dec. 1 – willing to talk to my writing teacher colleagues about student-centered learning and assessment.

But somewhere in all this, what is left of our fall semester, I am supposed to also help with Professional Development and explain to my Kazakh peers about the Internet sources I use, such as Thesis Statement Builder, Citation Builder,, etc.  I’m not sure where that will fit into my already packed schedule. I want to have these teachers go to the computer lab to learn this for themselves and USE it.  I would rather teach them how to fish rather than give them the fish.

I didn’t mention that I am in the middle of assembling the 50+ wonderful and beautiful photos I got from my <100 students for a Photo contest that I’m sponsoring.  We (I have four judges lined up) will present the winners at the AIWC Charity Bazaar at Miras School on Nov. 22.  I also didn’t mention that I am in charge of the Book Stall at this bazaar where we hope to sell 1,000s of books, DVDs, CDs and other things at this event on Sunday to help raise money for orphans and pensioners. [BTW, for those who live in Almaty, I’m still taking donations of books, etc. to be sold at this special Sunday event.]

I guess all that I do is for charity and is volunteer work if you tabulate the extra hours that I put in as a teacher at my “westernized” university.  Others know that I am doing front line battle with plagiarist students and also with lazy, unmotivated teacher colleagues who have job security while I don’t.  Other foreigners and some of my teaching colleagues help me do battle in this great land of Kazakhstan. Yes, I’m flattered that I am so needed, yet this reverse flattery of not being wanted reminds me of what Ezekiel encountered:

“…do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house.” 2:6

Yes, I am needed but NOT wanted. I have no contract to teach next semester.  Like I said, I have no job security, NONE!!!

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