Posts tagged Great Depression

“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”

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Pulling Weeds and 1932-33 Holodomor in Ukraine

Today was THEE day to pull out vicious weeds from my various flower gardens.  Since we got a blessed 4/10ths of an inch of rain last night, the thistle and itch weed were extracted easily.  The 4-5 hours I was outside playing havoc with those evil weeds, I was thinking about American education and what they “intentionally” leave out of world history books.  I believe not many people in the U.S. or other western countries really know what happened in Ukraine 75 years ago. (Sadly, many don’t care.) Ten years ago I honestly had NO idea what tragedy Ukraine went through in 1932-33 with the Holodomor (Terror Famine). We simply know from our history books that American farmers were focussed on poor grain prices and the rest of Americans were mired in the Great Depression.  Or for that matter, even less is known by many westerners about what Kazakhstan and other countries of the former Soviet Union endured during collectivization. 

I don’t normally put in links on my blog but this one about Ukraine and their memorial of remembering those who died of starvation is something I couldn’t resist inserting.  I hope my reading audience has a better understanding of my passion to get this information out so that more people are aware of what bad government can do to good people.  Turns out that after the 1917 revolution those communist elite who mimicked Lenin’s words of “religion is the opiate of the people” did not have a clue what a relationship with God was really all about.  Yes, admittedly religion can be dried out and oppressive if going through motions and rituals. However, many of those Ukrainian farmers mowed down by Stalin’s edicts to eradicate “kulaks” who owned small plots of property and worked hard off the soil of the land were merely God-fearing peasants.

Those professors in academia who want to suppress this truth about the evils of the Soviet Union in their hallowed halls of our American institutions are not being intellectually honest.  They are trying to promote their socialist, Marxist agenda once again but now this time they are trying to vilify Christians who may have a simple faith in God and are just ordinary citizens.  Instead of “kulaks” who were persecuted 75 years ago and starved to death, now they are going after the big corporations as the evil entities.  If those who in power had their way, they would want all those entrepreneurs and others who are in business to make money through the capitalist system to be punished.  However, if that were to happen those lower in the chain of command would lose their jobs and we would eventually have another Great Depression.  That is, if the intellectuals had their way and wanted to start a class warfare which seemingly worked in the 1930s.

These very people in the ivory towers who want their young students to believe in Utopia little realize they are trying to preach a certain poisonous opiate of their own concoction.  “Opiate” and “Utopia” share many of the same letters (can you tell I’ve been playing lots of online Scrabble?) These dishonest professionals are attempting to drug the younger generation in believing that Christians are evil and that their hardsell for Utopia or the nothingness of postmodern de-constructionism is the right way to think.  Ron Vossler has a new book he is working on which, of course, he says it way better than I ever could.

The following is one of the many projects from Ron Vossler’s website: Communist East Dakota: How Twenty Years Teaching at a Midwest University Turned Me into a Republican. This irreverent book—a Hunter Thompsonesque account of a fictional adjunct teacher perched on the lowest, dung-smeared rungs of a backwater Prairie University —portrays an academic Don Quixote, who after discerning the deep Marxist bias prevalent in American higher education, wages a humorous battle against the dark forces of left-wing propaganda that pollutes both his colleagues’ and students’ minds.

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“Time We Remember” Yuliya’s Grandmother

 It is hard to memorize all the stories that my grandmother loved to tell me when I was a little girl. I’ve tried to remember some of them which have stayed forever in my mind. The period of the Great Depression when my grandma was young resembled a bad dream from which everybody of that time wanted to wake up immediately. 

 My grandmother loved to tell me how they lived during the time of Great Depression. Their family was big enough, she had 5 brothers and 2 sisters and all their family lived in a one room apartment. I couldn’t imagine how it was possible to live in such a place but she told me it was: they separated all room into small pens by piece of material. It was really hard to imagine!

Another thing that shocked me was that they always had lack of food in spite of the fact that both parents and two oldest brothers had a job. She told me how their mother divided between 8 children the loaf of bread and this small piece of bread was their breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Since that time, the sense that somebody from family are hungry stuck in my grandmother’s heart forever. That is why she always feels keenly that somebody from us doesn’t eat enough and she tries to stuff ourselves by food as much as possible. And I think that every grandmother has this special feature which went through the famine and still has the fear to stay hungry.  

Life was never meant to be easy” as my grandma always says and that’s true! Fortunately, there were a positive moments during that time. At those time young people loved to go dancing. I remember she told me how she made dresses herself by spending time and money for materials (at that time she had already worked) and was dreaming when she dress one of them and go to the dancing. One day when she was coming back from work and passing the place where people usually danced, she suddenly saw her younger sister in her dress that she was going to wear that day. My grandmother was so angry, but when her sister saw her she ran away and it happened many times. I think at that time it wasn’t very funny for my grandma, but when she told me this story I saw her laughing eyes.

I am very grateful to my grandmother that she told me such stories of that time. She helped me realize how well and light-heartedly we live today at least we do not need to think about how and where to get food and what I am going to eat tomorrow. But many people from many poor countries are still having a lack of food and clothes and we should help and support them as if they were our own grandparents.   

Today my grandmother lives in Russia with my grandfather and aunt. Unfortunately, we see each other not very often but I never forget that time when we all lived in one city and visited each other almost every day. We all have the same dream: to build a big house and live all together as a big, friendly family. I hope that this dream will come true some day and we all will be very happy like each family should be!     





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