Posts tagged Communist party

Quotes and a Joke from an American Optimistic Realist

I love a quote used by John Piper which I found on his Facebook status. Back in the mid-1980s I first heard about Kazakhstan when he talked about this Central Asian land.  Perhaps he knew about it from his German connection. Back then, nobody really knew this country existed during the Soviet Union’s Cold War period.  Many in the western world still do not know this land of about 16 million people live in a country the size of three Texas states put together. 

So I have to give credit to Dr. Piper for getting me here to Almaty indirectly when I first arrived in the summer of 1993.  Piper wrote,“If we are not hated by someone, we don’t know enough people, or we don’t speak enough truth.”  I KNOW I fall into the latter category, I’ve been speaking the truth as a realist during my time at this Western university in Almaty.  Another quote I like is: A pessimist sees the dark tunnel, an optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel and a realist sees the train coming down the tracks.”  I also love Winston Churchill and what he stood for, here’s a quote attributed to him about optimism: “I am an optimist and it doesn’t seem hard to be anything else.”

Yes, I am optimistic about Kazakhstan’s future because I have been working with their youth for the past 2 ½ years.  I did not get re-hired by the hiring committee because I fell into the third category of this joke which my husband loves to tell.  Apparently I know too much, especially about Soviet teaching pedagogy. But I’ve been accused of being culturally insensitive. I’m sorry that my words have been misconstrued and twisted by the very people I came to help.  I know I am needed for what I know, but I am not wanted.  Common malady among many of us Westerners, “needed but not wanted.” Read several blogs back.

 The Communist Party (CPSU) membership committee was interviewing candidates.

 The first candidate arrives, sits in front of the commission, and is asked:

“How much is 2 + 2?”

The candidate hesitates and replies, “6”?

“Are you sure?”


He is dismissed and discussed.  They vote him in after one of the committee says,

“I like him.  He is flexible.”

The second candidate arrives, sits in front of the commission and is asked:

“How much is 2+2?”

The candidate does not hesitate and immediately replies, “6!”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure, 2 + 2 is 6!”

The second candidate is dismissed and discussed.  The commission votes him in as a new member of the Party, after one of the commission members says,

“I like him, he has the courage of his convictions!”

The the third candidate arrives, sits in front of the commission and is asked:

“How much is 2+2?”

The candidate does not hesitate and immediately replies, “4!”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course. What kind of stupid question is that.  2 + 2 is 4!”

The third candidate is dismissed and discussed.  The commission votes NOT to admit him in as a new member of the Party, after one of the commission members says,

“He knows too much!”

Pres. Kennedy is quoted as saying, “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.”  Finally, one more quote by John Maxwell: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”  I’ve tried to do that with my fellow teachers and I’ve tried to be a leader in the classroom full of students, whether they are Kazakh or Kazakhstani (Russian, Korean, Uighur, Tatar, German, or  mix of whatever else).  I have made enemies amongst some who do not want to see reality for what it is.  I still chuckle to myself for coming up with the quote that my Yale law school trained, work mate loved: “The truth will prevail, it may just take a little longer in Kazakhstan.”

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Icy Cold, Resolute Pine Trees and Kazakh Apples

PB100114Reading “Apples are from Kazakhstan” for the third time brings new insights into old thoughts and vice versa.  I liked the part that I read to my listening students today about the President of this great country of Kazakhstan, in his own words spoken to the author, Christopher Robbins.

The Communist Party was like an army in those days.  It was simply not done to disagree even slightly with your superiors.  We were all meant to be “soldiers of the Party” and soldiers had to obey orders. (p. 261)

The leader of this great land continued to reveal what it was like for him under the Communist Party system:

Years of exhausting hard work, with no solution at hand, build a slow-burning anger.  I saw all the flaws in the system.  Every year the numbers were faked, and every year everybody worked flat out to show 101 per cent. You dared not show only 99 per cent. That would have meant everybody would be kicked out of their positions. (p. 263)

Somehow I can relate to these two above quotes as an English teacher at a westernized university in Almaty but maybe my problem is that I have put in 110 percent.  Maybe I’m feeling the icy, cold reception to my ideas, my student-centered ideas. I’m misunderstood by my “superiors”  in a land that is supposedly hospitable and friendly to foreigners. 

I’m caught in a wedge now because I also have Kazakh students who are lazy and are turning in their final papers and wanting all sorts of breaks.  My response, “Sorry, this paper looks like a blah, blah paper,” or I’ll say, “sorry this is NOT your own words” or “This paper used personal pronouns, OR you are to use the other authors words but give them PROPER attribution!!!”

A lot of fakery going on, I’m afraid.  I’ll end with one last quote from “The Howling of Wolves” chapter from Apples are from Kazakhstan.

“The Soviet system was trapped in an enormous vicious circle.  Bureaucratic legerdemain made it appear that plans were fulfilled when the reality was the opposite.  Projects known to be doomed to failure were approved for political reasons, and when they inevitably collapsed the plans were quietly revised…in other words, the more inefficiently it worked, the better it seemed to be doing.” (p. 264)

Oh, just ONE more last quote which seems appropo, again the KZ president speaking of Soviet years gone by,

Whether you liked it or not, you had to follow the unwritten rules – you had to fawn on your superiors and offer hospitality…the only way to get investment was to be clever and resourceful, and in our system this led to degradation, crime and corruption. The system virtually demanded it. (p. 266)

How do you like THEM apples?

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Nurlan believes everyone should know their family history

My grandfather’s name is Aubakirov Gabdulla. He was born in Semipalatinsk in 1908. His father’s name is Aubakir and he worked as a teacher. Gabdulla grew up in big family; he had four brothers and one sister.  My grandfather was the third child in the family. When he was eight their family moved to Ust’-Kamenogorsk. Gabdulla studied and graduated the high school  in Ust’-Kamenogorsk. After that he worked as the teacher of high school.


In 1941 began the World War2. At that time all men had to go to war and my grandfather went to war too.  Gabdulla was  commander of  mortar battery. His task was to specify a location of the enemy. Sometimes for exactness he had to cause a fire on itself. I think that not everybody can do it, so I think my grandfather was a very brave man. I am very proud of him. He took part in the Battle of Leningrad and was injured. After the war he was rewarded with a lot of medals and awards, some of it was given for valour and bravery.


At the end of the 1940s my grandfather worked in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee, also at that time he studied at a university in Almaty, his specialization was as teacher of history. Later he studied at the Moscow university.  In the beginning of the 1950s my grandparents moved in Kokchetav.  In that period the Communist Party organized the campaign of breaking fresh ground in this area.  At the end of a 1970s my grandfather worked in Council of Ministers and he retired in 1980. When I was born in 1986 my grandfather was seventy eight years old. He was very happy and he bought a baby-carriage for me. In spite of his age, he was very active and sometimes he walked with me in the park.  He died in 1993.


Next, my grandmother’s name is Zhibek.  She was born in Orenburg in 1918. My grandmother grew up in a children’s home.  She knew nothing about her family.  She studied in medical university. But she didn’t finish university because of war. My grandparents got married in 1941. In the war time she worked as a nurse and waited for her husband. She was very happy when he returned from war alive, in spite of that, his one hand did not move.  They had two of their own children: my aunt and my father. My aunt was born in 1945 and my father was born in 1965.  Also they cared about children of their grandfather’s older brother, who perished during the war-time. My grandmother was very kind and hospitable.  The last years of her life she had problems with health, she suffered from high blood pressure.  She died in 1979 of a stroke. My father was thirteen years old. The difference in age between my aunt and my father is twenty years, so my aunt cared for my father after my grandmother’s death.  I never saw my grandmother.

I think everybody should know history of their family.

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