Posts tagged KIMEP

Update after this week

Ken at Koktobe

Not much going on that is unusual…I found a photo of my husband showing off an American hat from our US locality in Almaty, Kazakhstan. We were on Koktobe for a nice outing by using the cable car.  When I had first lived in Almaty, the cable car was not working in 1994 but by the time we went back to live and teach in 2007, it was working and bringing many people up to see the city of Almaty below.

Me in Almaty

During our time at KIMEP, as I wrote earlier, my husband and I went to an American football game where our students were playing against another team that had far better jerseys and equipment. I can’t remember what the score was or who won but it was inspiring to see that the Kazakh students who had lived in the US for a year or two under the FLEX program had been encouraged enough to replicate what they saw back in their own home country once back.  Even the girls got in the act with cheerleading.

NU Astana, Kazakhstan

After our 2-3 years of teaching at KIMEP, we ended up at NU in Astana when it first was getting started. That would almost be eight years ago now. You can see a model of what the whole campus is supposed to look like once all is finished.  The building itself where I taught is in the background.  What a HUGE undertaking this was to create this kind of “westernized” university in the capital city of Kazakhstan. I wish the students and teachers all well.

 

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I wonder if KIMEP still plays Am. football

I came across some photos I took back ten years ago in Almaty, Kazakhstan and these were of KIMEP football players versus another team from nearby. Not sure who they were representing. I wonder if they are still playing American football or if the equipment and jerseys are stored away with lack of interest or funding.

Ken w KZ flag

Peter is the player who lived in the U.S. and came back with the drive and energy to put a team together with like minded players. Granted some of them were probably soccer players who just put on the jerseys and pads but it was a game to witness.  Peter is holding the trophy representing KIMEP after their win.

KIMEP football

I had a notebook along with me to take notes or do something but it ended up being used by the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs.  I do remember the game went longer than what you’d expect because I’m not sure a stop watch was being used.  One of the refs, an American who has passed on, was probably in charge of calling out penalties.

Bruce Taylor and showing downs

Cheerleaders even showed up with their cute outfits and they had adopted cheers they had learned from what they remembered in the U.S. Many of the girls had been on the FLEX program and somehow had clothes and pompoms to make it more believable.

football cheerleaders

When the game was all done, finally, then the two teams got together for a group picture. You would never see that in the U.S. but in Kazakhstan where the teams are so rare with knowing how to play American football, there was a camaraderie with the players.  Even those who had been injured and taken off the field were in the picture afterwards.

both teams together

I was supporting the blue and white team, but the maroon and white team probably had better equipment and jerseys. I remember that some of the defense and offence had to switch off their jersey every time they went on and off the field.

other football team

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Blogging is my way to Procrastinate!!!

I have only one more post to make after this one that would make it to 1,500 posts all together on this blog since I started it over seven years ago.  I have not been as frequent posting about Kazakhstan because I am living far, far away from a country I care deeply about.  So few people have heard about this ninth largest country in the world.  There are fewer people who actually live in this country and so the reason seems to prevail, not many people are out there to promote the good things about this former Soviet Republic.

I have lived in the two cities Almaty and Astana, I have visited other places like Karaganda and out west.  I went east to their version of the Grand Canyon, that is all documented on this blog.  I’d have to go back to see how to spell the names of these little known places.  A map would help but right now I am writing this blog because I DO NOT want to be grading the stack of 40 plus research papers that are 2,000 words long with APA formatted in-text citations and a Reference page of eight sources.  I brought this all on myself, it was my assignment for my freshmen composition students.  I want them to learn all that is possible before they go to the next level of Comp II.

Do my 85 students know that I care that they succeed?  I got feedback from one of my more genuine students when he said something to the effect that “not many students like you, but I do because you make us work hard. I have learned a lot from you.”  I guess I don’t go into this teaching gig with the idea of making friends with all my students by giving them the easy As or Bs.  If they are getting the grades they want, they will have worked hard for it or they already came into my class with prior knowledge.  Those of the latter set have had high school composition teachers that took the time to grade their papers in a diligent manner and told them the tough things that they needed to know to improve.

Right now, I should also be looking at the self evaluations and self assessments that I gave to my Comp lab classes, all three of them.  Oy, there is an overload here and I am looking forward to having a break.  I’m no different from the students.  I can fritter away time with the best of them.  I don’t remember working this hard with my Kazakh students even when I taught at KIMEP in Almaty and had 100 students, five classes of 20 in each. That was when I barely got their difficult to pronounce first names down…never mind trying to learn their last names.  I have all of my 85 students names figured out with these American students, some are from Florida, California, Texas…those are the football or basketball players.

We had a fun time decorating the Carnegie last week and it made the local newspaper the next day.  Some of the students seemed pleased that they are featured on the front page and also the group shot of them on the second page.  Well, I had to call it a service learning project, of course. You can’t have a field trip where all they do is decorate the halls of the Carnegie.  They had to learn about electricity in MN which was part of the traveling exhibit display.

I had better get to those papers, the clock is ticking and they do NOT grade themselves.

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Lapse of Posting My Blog Entries

I never thought it would come to this, my not posting in my blog as frequently as once a day, now it has been almost once a month.  I have been busy writing about local history and that has NOTHING to do with Kazakhstan.  None whatsoever.  Where I come from and my hometown in northwestern Minnesota are about as far apart from Astana or Almaty as can be.  So I thought I might put up a  sunrise or sunset shot and let you guess which it is.  I hope that once I am done teaching my composition students in May that I will write more that is pertinent to Kazakhstan.  I need to clean through my files to find more material that I collected about Central Asia. I owe my faithful followers and readers that much!

For now, please read the following blog about Alma Ata written by a former colleague of mine when I taught at KIMEP in Almaty.  Cheers! Molapse!

Sunrise

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Let the Defense Begin!!!

My former student Aigerim responded immediately to my blog of yesterday.  Aigerim referred to Madina who I don’t know but liked how she articulated her situation in Kazakhstan through the posting in Vox Populi.  Aigerim presses on a point that I want to make about another former colleague of mine who taught in the same English department in Almaty as I did.  We all got bruised and bumped around by the supposed “administrators” who ultimately “cut off their nose to spite their face” in the decisions they make.  It seems hard to think that their way of administration is democratic or fair.  Nay, I witnessed many injustices.  I like what Aigerim in Astana wrote:

“This young woman, Madina is an image of modern Kazakhs, they see the wrong but are not confident to make a step for a change. Yet Madina is different, she talks on this issue. She just needs support to act. Sadly, most of initiatives of activists are buried into bureaucracy and state control.”

Yes, this is what is happening to my friend in Almaty. Vera recently wrote to me about her problems with the current administration where she is trying to obtain her MA degree in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).

“Just imagine! Still struggling with KIMEP, trying to defend my thesis. They haven’t given MA Degree to anybody from TESOL. This is the fifth (!) year of our study!!! I’m really fed up with the way they treat people at KIMEP.

Our current advisor, who started this program five years ago, is a very difficult person to deal with. He informed us that he would take a leave for half a year. That means that if we don’t defend in May, the defense will be postponed until next Fall. Then another Advisor will be appointed. With his/ her view… And this will be an endless process. I said that I would give up then.”

This is part of what I wrote back to my beleaguered, Kazakhstani friend Vera,

“This is really depressing news! They are more than willing to accept your tuition money for five years but not let you graduate? It would appear that they don’t want anyone in the Language Center to graduate with an MATESOL degree. You have struggled and worked far too long for this obstacle you are encountering to not be recognized by the top levels of management. The university liberally gives out MA degrees in other business departments throughout the campus to people far less qualified than you and your two other colleagues.

Why should they be holding out in the English department except it would threaten those questionable, Kazakh administrators who are on top who don’t have the credentials or know how. I believe it is really unconscionable for your advisor not to tie up loose ends before he leaves for the U.S.  Whoever is at the top with decision-making is not doing the MATESOL program any favors by making it look impossible to graduate with a graduate degree.  Most sad and perplexing.”

Aigerim is right, anyone who takes the initiative to improve themselves, especially with better education are buried under the weight of state controlled bureaucracy. I quake and shudder to think what will happen to the newly minted undergraduates of the new university in Astana once the first batch graduates in 2014. I suspect this newer generation will not be bland in their revolt from the clueless status quo who were Soviet trained but Kazakh lazy. There I said it, let the defense-iveness begin!

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