Posts tagged Enemies of the People

Three Kazakh Girls Talks (Part II)

This blog entry is a continuation from yesterday where I showcased threearays-grandpa of my former writing students who gave a talk at an AIWC weekly meeting to about 40 ex-pat women (and men) who are from all over the world.  They shared from their hearts about their grandparents stories, quotes and photos.  First up was Aray, whose great grandfather is the famous Abay.  Her grandfather is pictured behind the president of Kazakhstan some years ago, he is wearing medals. 

 This is what President Nazerbayev said about Abay in 1995 which was voted as “The Year of Abay” by UNESCO: 

“Honestly, there is no need to find the basis of our strong Kazakh beginnings somewhere abroad. All we need to do is find Abay… the world of Abay is our guiding star. Each person who cares for the wealth of his nation, ought to read Abay, ought to grasp his wise advice.”

On the last slide Aray showed a photo of Abay with the following quote: 

“The world is the ocean. Time, like a wind races the waves of generations, changing each other. They disappear but the ocean remains the same.”

lauras-grandpaThe next speaker was Laura whose grandfather was sent to Siberia for 15 years because it was thought he was a Kazakh nationalist when he presented a paper titled: “About Preparing Scientific Specialists in Kazakhstan.”  He was sent to one of the most terrible gulags as part of the intelligentsia.  However, not only did he live among other political prisoners but also there were killers and thieves at his gulag.  Many died not only from hunger and cold but some prisoners were murdered.  This is what Laura wrote:

“But as my father told me, everyone respected my granddad because of his justice, erudition, wide reading and strength of will.  Fifteen tormented years he struggled with death, repeating to himself again and again: “I will survive.”  He was not one of those men who ever gave up.

He DID survive and several years after his release, my grandfather defended his dissertation in math and was a highly respected professor at a university.”

Finally, Aida spoke about her grandmother who had survived ALZHIR, a prison camp for women who were married to “Enemies of the People.”  She was still a young newlywed when her husband was taken away and she was sent to do hard labor for ten years.  She found out later that her husband had been killed, she remarried and the photo below is her family that she hoped to live and see.

aidas-grandma

Aida had interviewed her on May 25, 2005 and these are her words from that interview, she has since passed on.

“One day when we came after very difficult working day to our barracks, I started to recite the poem of the Alexander Pushkin about bravery and hope…The jailer of our barracks stayed silently and then added: even if we separate you from your family and your high elite community and force you to work, you are still morally unbreakable.  I wonder at your power!”

Is it no wonder that I love teaching these kinds of students who have such amazing stories passed on to them from their grandparents?  Indeed, I am very, very privileged to know these three Kazakh girls among the 100s others who have been my students this past year in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

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USSR’s Past Problems, My Students’ Grandparents Solutions

The following excerpts are just some brainstorming my students are doing about their final essay and portfolio project for our academic reading and writing course. Problems aplenty, their grandparents had creative solutions in order to get out from under the burdens of the Soviet regime.  I am looking forward to reading their FINAL PRODUCT!

 

Russian empire’s system of education – The nature of this problem led to repression and political organization in the early Soviet Union.  The nature of problem is distribution of state money in Russian empire, less of it was spent on education and thus not developed educational system.  Consequently, enormous amount of uneducated “marginal” people and this problem concerned every person and effected every sphere of their living.  Main effect is revolution [1917] and after that fatal because no competition of any competent personnel.  The effect was an absolute fall of science and culture. Natalya

 

Education – Problems with education with no teachers, not enough schools.  Also, I think it is a problem for Kazakh people because in Soviet period all things were put into Russian language. Many Kazakh people didn’t get hired on jobs.  Many Kazakhs learn Russian language and forgot their own language.  I think some of parents don’t know their mother language because their parents spoke Russian language.  Their solution to survive was to learn Russian. Madina

 

Education – Some problems in education was overteaching, too much to read in some classes which children don’t need.  In the Soviet time, education was censored.  All pupils learned by only one book and nowadays we can choose our books and the way of learning ourselves.  It was in the whole Soviet Union because the Soviet government made that for “brain cleaning.”  For showing their way of history and showing dictators from good side.  It started from kindergarten and ended in the university, after this education they are believe that only their dictator is the best, only the Soviet Union is the best, etc.

Solution: – Now people only smiling when reminded of these times.  People learn how to think for themselves and how to learn themselves.  Askar

 

Famine – The topic of my problem/solution essay is starvation and WWI.  I think that is one of the great problems of that period of time because a lot of people died and their families stayed alone without help.  The nature of the problem is unemployment because it was difficult to have a good education in that period and people did not work and died from famine.  It had a great impact on the people and many small children began to work very early.  I think that this problem needed to be solved by the older generation because small children struggled from these problems.  Also, a lot of people died during Great Patriotic War, many people lost their relatives and it was really difficult to stabilize the situation that existed in that period of time.  Nowadays we haven’t so difficult situation, like starvation and I think our great grandfathers did everything for that. Zhanna

 

Famine after WWII – Nature of the problem is famine after and during WWII.  The main cause is war and approximately all men were taken to war.  Everything was put on women, most products (food) was sent to war places.  This problem was not in the whole country, but mostly in auls (villages) and nearest places to front.  This probably was needed to be solved because many, many people would die.  Finally, if this problem wasn’t solved, then people simply would die, because people first of all needed to eat to survive. Diana

 

Soviet Living Conditions – All these problems of bad lifestyle, lack of food and clothes, no place to live and long lines to stand in, led to illnesses and depopulation.  Older generations tried to solve that problem by using their own experience, and in my problem solution essay I will use quotes from my grandmother in how she solved these problems.

If no solution had been found, people would have died, so the conclusion is “the strong people will survive.”

All these problems are very important for former USSR, because our older generation suffered from these problems and I want to show it in my paper. Kristina

 

Broken up families/poor families – Many Soviet women had to bring up their children alone because their husbands had died during the war, famine, etc.  The effects of this is that many children, especially oldest sons didn’t have “proper” childhoods, women had to work harder, also start to do some “man work.”  The fact that there is no man in the family didn’t effect well psychologically on little children as well; women started to emancipate in many fields of life.  Maiya

 

Soviet repression – I’ll choose the problems which were social problems about gulags and prisons.  During the Stalin’s repression, a lot of people became an enemies of the state because of different causes.  In Soviet period, there are a lot of educated people, “intelligence” they were against an ideology, Stalin’s regime and that’s why the government decided to imprison them.  This problem was extended in the whole USSR.  Many people were imprisoned in gulags and died there.  Then the population was fallen dramatically.  That time was a scary time when people were in fear and always worried about themselves and their relatives. Akbota

 

Evacuation – People who were relocated during WWII faced new living conditions they weren’t used to.  This problem was caused by evacuation during WWII.  These problems needed to be solved because it was the only way to survive.  If no solution had been found, all the people who suffered a lot, both local people and those who were evacuated would have died.  This problem was very widespread during that time because families were destroyed, relatives were placed in different regions of the country.  But still, they had to be strong to start a new life in a new location. Yelena

 

Enemies of the PeopleSoviet Union claimed that my grandparents were enemies of the USSR.  They were the elites and came from well-educated and well known families and the communist party wanted to make all the people as equal as possible and started to destroy the elites of Kazakh, to not let them mobilize all the poor and not to educate people to protect their rights and do not proclaim themselves as independent, a sovereign republic from USSR.

The elites of Kazakhs at that time wanted to be free as their ancestors, to establish as Kazakh autonomy country and they could mobilize people to fight for their sovereignty.  But most of the elites were killed by communist party’s representatives and their wives were sent to working camps such as gulag ALZHIR.  But the wives could stay straight even under a lot of problems came and they survived.  They worked hard and helped other people and finally they achieved their goals.  Kazakhstan is independent and a sovereign republic. Aida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Noone is Indispensible But We are Disposable

Today is Father’s Day in the U.S. and I’ve already sent my e-greeting to my dear Dad back in Minnesota.  Fortunately, he is looking after mowing our lawn, making sure everything is in order by the time we get back to our “dacha” farmhouse in less than a month.  Can it be, we are finally going to our own home soon?  However, it will be a quick visit before we return to our jobs where we are “disposable” targets. 

What do I mean by that?  Since my husband and I are “guests” as Americans in an institution that is a “guest” kind of western styled university in Central Asia, we are viewed with much skepticism if not outright derision.  Our institution of higher learning is really an anomoly among all the others in Kazakhstan.  From the Commander in Chief Nazarbayev, our place of employment has had his blessing from 15 years ago when it started up to now.

That could all change once his leadership baton passes to the next.  Leadership at our institution should and must change if we are to sustain a distinction of being a western university in a land proud of their own traditions.  As foreigners, we have NO job security and to pretend that there is a tenure system in place for us as it would imitate what exists in America or other western countries is laughable.  We are at the mercy of whomever doles out the work permits.  Someone in some ministry somewhere in the capital of Astana decides if there are too many westerners and that the job can be better filled by a native Kazakh employee.  Work permits are seemingly becoming tighter with each passing year.  As foreigners we are dispensible and should be easily disposable.

If last Sunday’s graduation ceremony was any indication of how many foreigners actually teach or are administrators in our western organization in Almaty, we will all soon be quickly disposed of.  Our expertise in whatever given subject we have taught in or have experience in as administrators will all eventually be taken over by Kazakhs.  So, essentially we are working ourselves out of our own jobs.

Education is a tricky thing, especially when it leaves God out of the equation which is what much of western academia has essentially already accomplished.  That is a given, western educators have done so with the zealousness of a communist atheist.  So much puffed up ego is involved with supposedly knowing more than the next person and having a title to PROVE that you know more is part of the game played.

What I’ve witnessed about Women Studies programs in many universities and what angry women have done to promote themselves as “womyn” saddens me.  Their tactic is to the detriment of what is really true and good in educating our young people.  They hold up women as far superior to men with this “feminine goddess” idea and that men are to be reviled as mere sperm donors.  These “educated” women (there are feminist men too) would want all people to continue with this “logic” that men are dispensible and disposable.

In the former Soviet Union, especially in countries like Ukraine and Kazakhstan, men as fathers and husbands were systematically taken out because of the communist ideology.  Many men were branded as “Enemies of the People” if they happened to be good breadwinners and worked hard to earn a living for their family.  (Seems that lazy men who later became thugs were safe.)  These unfortunate family men were targeted as either farmers or stockbreeders.  They were simply doing what men were equipped to do, be the head of the home raising and protecting their wife and children. Once these men were “kulakized” and either killed or sent off to the gulag, there were women and children who were forced into the collective in order to survive and expected to tout the party line.

What is the connection between what happened in the past under communist times and what is happening to us as western educators in Central Asia?  First, I am reminded of my experience of teaching in China in 1986-88 where we as foreigners told ourselves that we were being used.  The phrase “being chewed up and spit out” often came to mind during my two years of teaching English.  In a country of one billion people, what is one little American’s quality of life matter?  Second, I think we have some things to offer the Kazakhs but they are either not ready or willing to accept it yet.  Third, their own pride of not wanting to appear needy factors in.  Fourth, there have been some abrasive westerners who came in with their seedy ideology, such as the women’s studies example.  Tough to sort out the good from the bad, so the Kazakhs need much wisdom of what to embrace and what to dispose of from our western form of education.

Finally, I’m reminded of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians 4:10-13 about being a fool for Christ.  In my case, while teaching in Kazakhstan, I have to take solace in what Paul experienced as being disposable, “And we labor, working with our own hands.  Being reviled, we bless, being persecuted, we endure it; being defamed, we entreat.  We have been made filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.”

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