Posts tagged Korean

Buddy Bear is “Bear”back

What is with this Buddy Bear exhibit? What does this have to do with Kazakhstan?  Well, I believe it has a LOT to do with this culturally rich country.  As many bears that are out on display, 125 close to the Baiterek tower, that’s how many different nationalities co-exist in this lightly populated country of 16 million people. This land is the size of 3 or 4 state of Texas and has an eastern border with China, a country that has over 1 billion Chinese.  There used to be many more Germans and Russians in Kazakhstan and there are also Uighurs, Tatars, Korean, Turks, Kyrgyz, Mongols, Turkmen, Uzbek, etc.  Where China has many more people and a great variety of different Chinese, Kazakhstan has fewer people but many nationalities.  With different cultures, you will have diverse languages and religions.

I believe Kazakhstan prides itself in being able to handle the steady mix of people groups.  I know when I lived in Almaty for two years I was surrounded by different nationalities and enjoyed it. But then again, I’m an ESL/EFL teacher, my job is to teach English to those people who want to learn it.  I’ve studied or tried to learn eight different languages and am a master of none.  The Kazakh people by law have a mandate to know three languages: Kazakh, Russian and English.  Will that work, can they do it?  As I’ve written before, it is a do or die proposition because another alternative could be Chinese.  If I were Kazakh or Kazakhstani, I would try to learn all three languages simultaneously too.  I’ve studied Chinese, I’ve written its calligraphy, I know just how difficult it is to speak in the four tones.  What is so very interesting to me is that among all the nationalities represented in Kazakhstan, China has a very low profile.  Enjoy my photos of more Buddy Bears, especially Vietnam’s quote: “Who doesn’t love, doesn’t live.”

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Stunned Bewilderment over Kyrgyzstan Events (part I)

What’s bewildering is one might know much in Kazakhstan concerning the Kyrgyzstan events of last week from American friends who are currently “on the ground” in Bishkek and who are “netizens” while the rest of the world just yawns and goes on with life as usual. But NOTHING is ordinary with 80 people dead, 100s wounded and a deposed president in the south of Kyrgyzstan refusing to resign after he drained all the country’s money from banks.  That leaves a new, unsteady leadership with impoverished funds to try to clean up the mess they presumably created in order to have the power to have the same thing done to them again in five years.  These revolutions in Kyrgyzstan seem to be following a Soviet style Five Year plan…

Read the following account from an American we know who has been in Bishkek for the last five years, he is a father of four children.  I fully expect that he and many others did NOT know the demonstration would turn into a bloodbath.

April 7th Demonstration in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

On the way home from school (to get the camera) we noticed that everyone was wearing black. We passed the police headquarters close to the Chinese restaurant in the basement. Heavily armed guards with big guns were at the scene, with at least 8-10 large dogs, mostly German Shepherds. Upon arriving at home, I quickly found a dark navy blue rain jacket and a camera with an extra battery. As soon as my brother and I reached Jibek Jolu, we noticed 100 armed police and soldiers with helmets, vests, guns, shields, and batons. We walked up a different route toward Panfilova, but then turned and saw all of them marching up behind us. We walked a little bit faster, unsure if they were after two handsome boys like us, but fortunately they stopped at a police station. We continued on ahead, saw the smoke rising up. Next to Panfilova, behind the museum, there was a lot of scattered trash everywhere. We could hear more gunfire and the shouts of people.

We walked up towards the city square where the statue and the big flag is. We saw more and more people and large rocks on the ground along with broken slabs of concrete. I saw that to my right, they had burned a little kiosk, and it was smoking gray, meaning it was a while ago. I saw that they had crashed army trucks into the gate of the “White House” and set it ablaze. The “White House” was surrounded by about a few hundred police officers and soldiers with guns, shields, helmets, and beating batons. I heard gun shots, and I saw about a few hundred protesters running back. They were carrying a man on their shoulders and took them to the square. There, a Damas ambulance was waiting as they loaded him into the trunk. From my view point, I couldn’t tell if he was dead or wounded. Then the whole crowd, there must have been ten thousand or more people, started cheering for him. But I could tell that they were furious, and they then rushed towards the White house, yelling.

I finally came to the place where the two guards stood, and men were throwing rocks at the glass. A few others were yelling at them, telling them not to. Some guys smashed the strobe lights with their feet. There were large pieces of glass and rocks everywhere. There were also a lot of cigarette boxes, Coke bottles, and miscellaneous trash. I saw some guys giving speeches on top of a platform with a megaphone. Others next to them were waving the Kyrgyz flag.

The people there were mostly wearing black. Mainly men, about 90% but there were young women, young boys, old women, and old men. Some men wore the white Kyrgyz hats like mine. I did not see anyone carrying arms besides sticks or stones. I noticed that some had beaten police up and had taken their shields, helmets, or batons.

I walked through the crowd, taking pictures. One guy asked me if I was Korean, and I said yes. Then he told me to put the pictures on the Internet, so that the whole world would see what is going on. There were some T.V. stations there, and people wanted them to get closer to the action, but they didn’t want to. I eventually fought my way to the columns and got closer and closer to the “White House”. There was an occasional burst of gunshots. Then I saw one guy get shot. He was running toward the “White House” and someone shot him in the stomach. It was probably a sniper from the corner of the rooftop. There was a spotter and a sniper. The spotter was wearing a helmet and a mask. Blood spurted out. Two men rushed, waving their arms and carried him by his arms and feet to safety. I saw another man grasping his leg, and someone was with him with a red first aid kit.

I came to the columns and saw a HUGE puddle of blood, with a bloody jacket on top. It scared me and at first I didn’t think it was real. But when I returned later, someone had wiped it off, proving it wasn’t paint. I continued to the corner and saw that they had torn down signs and were standing on large pieces of concrete. More demonstrations were going on further up on Kievskaya. I saw puddles of blood on the ground. It was if someone had beaten a head with a baseball bat. I walked along parallel to the “White House”, getting dangerously close. Other people were also taking pictures with their cameras or phones. Then an ambulance came and quickly, people loaded the two men who were shot and the ambulance quickly carried them away. They had set about 5/6 trucks on fire and smashed them into the wall, denting the fences or breaking them. One sky blue truck had even gone through the gate.

I kept walking down, and I saw more people rallying. Some were carrying the red flag ofKyrgyzstan. Some were yelling at the people, encouraging them to fight. I went to the grass and found more splotches of blood. A nurse walked around the gate, and men started crowding around her, I don’t know why. I think she told them to go away, judging by the gestures of their hands. There was a bloody black shoe next to a large splotch of blood. The people started getting worked up and one kid was furious, he was about 6 years old, wielding a large stick and was screaming.

(to be continued)

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Blowin’ in the Astana Wind

Don’t have much to write because I am so very tired and it is only Wednesday.  The most notable news about today is that the wind was so wicked and fierce that I had to hold on to the poles at the two stoplights while walking to and from our flat to work.  The ice is also tricky where the wind was forceful enough to push you along on the ice if on a slant anywhere.  Having lived in Almaty for over two years where there was rarely any wind, this is a new wonder to get used to.  The temperatures are warming up but we are in the sloppy season now, sleet, pellets of snow, rain and back to hardened snow again.  No fun to x-country skiing, but who has time for that?

I’ll be flying out to Kostanai for another recruiting trip with a work colleague named Irina.  I think I will be learning about her Korean roots though she was born in Kazakhstan and considers herself a Kazakhstani.  It will be fun to meet the students, especially those who want to practice their English on me.  In any case, I’ll be home on Saturday and then I have one day with my hubby before I take off early, early Monday morning for Boston.  The Narooz season is starting up as early as this Friday with an office party, Ken will go in my place. But for the next five days starting on Friday there will be no work done, offices will be closed. Just as well that I am away to the U.S. for the TESOL conference.

I just hope and pray that all my flights go on without a hitch.  The attached photo is of Aigerim and me at the Taras airport when they cancelled the flight due to high winds. All the other 15 passengers were turned away until we finally left at 1:00 a.m instead of our scheduled flight of 7:00 p.m.  Fortunately they gave us candles to see by and I had my Dell computer on which gave a kind of comforting glow in the darkened terminal.

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Cogent Thoughts on Education from a Kazakh-Korean Friend

The following thoughts are from a Kazakh-Korean friend of mine who already has a law degree.  Aliya is currently studying in the U.S. at the School of Education at Vanderbilt College in Tennessee.  I’m eager to get more of her cogent thoughts on how she would compare her experience of post-Soviet system of learning to that of the American style.  We had a delightful chat over Skype the other day, when it was about 2:00 a.m. for her while it was 2:00 in the afternoon for me.  She shared with me what she was learning about cultural diversity concerning autonomy and the collective group think.  I queried her more between Kazakh and American cultural differences.  She is a wealth of information, a valuable resource in the up and coming generation who will change Kazakhstan for the better. She is one of the best of the best, and she counts me as her friend.

“I still remember the time when I was in secondary school in Aktobe city, all my thirty classmates including myself had exactly the same subjects to study.  Everyone struggled.  Some couldn’t understand literature, some—math.  I personally had difficulty to study chemistry as my strengths were in history, languages, grammar, literature, painting and music.  Even in my young age, I didn’t like the fact that everyone was taught in the same way by the same methods in spite of our talents and interests.  Ever since I was a schoolgirl, I cherished a strong desire to change existing school system.  I knew education should help a person to develop his potential and talents, but not to make him feel as “another regular pupil” with identical personality and strengths.

I enjoy being part of transformation process and relationships with different persons.  The backward teaching methodology and prevailing Soviet pedagogical ideology have stopped Kazakh education from the modern international development.  I, as a cell of new developing State structure, can make a difference. Young generation defines the future of economical, cultural, scientific and political growth of Kazakhstan.  In my personal experience, despite the fact that some of the issues I face in my educational career can be resolved by consulting relevant information through literature, I found that more serious flaws inherent in Kazakh current educational system that can’t be worked out easily.

A saying: “Some people dream of accomplishments while others stay awake and do them.” I truly believe that we need to stand for doing accomplishments to make changes in our society.

There are a lot of facts that cause poor quality of education such as: lack of sufficient finances form the government (it doesn’t allow universities to have necessary equipment and materials.  For example, USA funds 5-6% of its GDP to education, when Kazakhstan funds only 2-3% of GDP), lack of experienced professors staff (many of them still hold to old Soviet methods), lack of information materials, literature, Internet development, electronic databases, lack of students’ responsibility towards their society and future.  Kazakh education is waiting for progressive modification.  The first and most important change comes from mentality of human beings. In order to make significant changes, we need to change ourselves.

The current situation and business world reality dictates to the graduated students: “When you start working, forget what you studied! Let’s start over!”  It is affected by the strong gap between academic university knowledge and practical skills required by public and business institutions.  Out-of-date Soviet educational methods are practiced even after 17 years of independence of Kazakhstan.

I am also concerned about wide habit of “cheating” among Kazakh students at the exams and tests.  Their mentality doesn’t allow them to see the importance of gaining knowledge.  Students use this practice in 80% cases without realizing they are cheating on themselves and their future.  I truly believe – education defines who we are and who we become.

Russian proverb:  “One person is not a warrior in the battle field.” But I believe every single person matters.  I think step by step progressive people of Kazakhstan can change the nation to the better, including education.  My deep-longing dream is to change the world to the better.  Education is one of the tools to fulfill it.”

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Ruslan’s Grandmother was his idol of a mother

At first, I want to say that, unfortunately, I don’t know at least seven ancestors of mine, as Kazakhs have to. But actually, I’m not a native Kazakh, I’m half-Tatar and half-Korean, so I guess the history of my family and the history of how my family appeared in Kazakhstan, in Almaty actually is very interesting.


In my essay, I decided to write about my grandmother, mother of my mum. Unfortunately, she is not with us now. She has gone to a better world. She and her six brothers and sisters were born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Then in late 1940s or 1950s they moved to Almaty. So since that time almost all of them are living here. She was working in “Almatyglavsnab” in the Soviet times as a head accountant for a long time (I guess that‘s why I‘m good at math). 

But when the USSR collapsed, she lost her job. But at this time I was born, and she gave all her forces to my upbringing. She was like my second mother. I shared all my secrets with her. I spent all my childhood with her, because my mother and father were at their work. She had only one child, my mother. My mom says that she has a sister, but no one knows where she is now, because my granny and grandfather divorced (my mom was only 1 or 2 years old) she had gone away with him. I don’t even know her name. I wish one time I would meet her.

In conclusion, I want to explain why I decided to choose my granny. She was a very close friend of mine, she is one of the most important parts of my whole life. Also she was a very good woman herself, I consider her as an idol of a mother or a grandmother. I think that I could write my essay much more longer, but I don’t have words, only emotions. When I was writing this essay I remembered all the moments I had spent with her. Now I really miss my granny.

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Alyona’s Grandfather Moved Seven Times…

      I would like to write about my grandfather because he is very hard-working person and I am proud of him. His name is Vladimir Tyo. He was born in 1927 in Ryazanovka village, Far East (Eastern part of Russia).

      In 1937 he had migrated to Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan, where he finished school.  He had entered zoological college in 1946 and finished it in 1948. After 3 years of working practice (in 1951) he entered Almaty Zoological Institute. He had married my grandmother Zoya Kim in 1952. She finished a medical college. My grandfather graduated in 1956 and was sent by Institute staff to Kostanay region. This land wasn’t fertile because of rigorous climate. So there were not many people and especially good specialists. My grandfather was appointed and worked there as a Chief cattle-breeding specialist of a farm. He was growing cattle, horses and sheep during eight years. His work was important for the country and people. I respect him for working in hard conditions. I think this experience made him extremely hard-working person.

      My grandparents with my father had moved to Karabalta, Kyrgyzstan, in 1964 where they had been living for ten years. Grandfather liked this place very much because of its warm climate. He is very communicative person, so he learned Kyrgyz language during this period of time. He also speaks Korean and Russian. Despite of his honorable age, he continues studying these three languages.

      In 1974 they moved to Dzhambul region, Kazahstan. Grandfather had been working in the military farm and grandmother had been working as a hospital nurse at tuberculosis sanatorium for six years. Then they moved to Chirchik, Uzbekistan, where grandfather was a manager of the pig farm. My parents had met in Chirchik and migrated to Dzhambul (Taraz), Kazahstan, in 1984. They had married and I was born here in 1985.

      In 1988 grandfather became a pensioner and moved to Taraz. There are a lot of our relatives in this town. Although grandfather is a pensioner, he is working hard almost every day in his kitchen garden. I love him very much.

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Yuliya’s Great-grandmother was deported from the Far East to KZ

It was in 1915 in the Far East of Russia, when my great grandma was born. Her name is Park Din Ok and now she lives in Tashkent with her son and his family. She was born just before the October Revolution and in the year 1925, when Lenin’s NEP was passed, her father died. The mother married second time and she was taken to the family of her uncle. As a child she worked about the house and collected herbs. At the age of 16 Din Ok left her uncle’s house to study at boarding school in Nahodka. She studied there till 1937. By this year, the year of Stalin’s repressions, she had already finished 8 grades. Soon together with other Korean people she was deported to Kzyl-Orda, Kazakhstan.

It was very difficult to live in complete solitude without any connections, support, home or money. Fortunately, some time later she found her relatives, living near Tashkent in kolkhoz “Pravda”, and moved to them. There she succeeded to finish school and was planning to enter a teacher’s training college in Ashkhabad. Education was very important for her and she dreamed about teaching herself, about giving knowledge to other people. But the dreams were to fail because the Great Patriotic War burst out. So she went back to Tashkent where she met her future husband.

 A new period of her life began. She has 4 children: a couple of boys and a couple of girls (one of them my grandma is). The time went; children grew up and got their own families. Today we live in different countries and don’t see each other often. So, every time I think about my great grandma I miss her very much. She is the only “ancestor” of mine that I have seen. She still works hard about the house: cooks, washes the dishes, etc. And what is most important, she is active, really intellectual and strong. About ten years ago she injured her leg. The fracture was so serious that she could lose any possibility to walk but she overcame this infirmity. That’s why I adore her inner strength and spiritual power.

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Many Nations Represented in Kazakhstan

British, German, Aussie friendsYesterday I put up photos of buildings in Almaty, today I will show some countries that are represented in Kazakhstan of the 120 nations known to reside here. Some are European and friends of mine with the oil industry or with banking, other photos are just of the costumes representing Korea or Ukraine. I LOVE the color, mixture and diversity of living in Almaty!!! You just don’t get this kind of texture in northwestern Minnesota, that’s for sure!Indian childrenFrench friendKorean costumesUkrainiansSouth Africa bossAmericans

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Nuriya, Assel, Marina, Irina’s proverbs

Nuriya’s proverbs


A thief who is not caught is not a thief (if you don’t have any proof of guilt, you can neither endict nor convict)


A stingy person pays twice (buying cheaply is a false economy)


God is in the sky, oil is under the ground and in the middle is Adai. (Adai – is one of Kazakh tribes, who belongs to the middle Zhuz) in Kazakh “zhuz” means 100.


At home even walls help you. (best to be at home when in trouble)


One does not go to Tula with one’s own samovar (do not take supplies, articles, etc. to a place where are plenty of them already)


Assel’s proverbs


All are good lasses, but whence come the bad wives?


Between two stools one goes to the ground.


Great dowry is a bed full of brambles


Salt water and absence wash away love.


The game is not worth the candle.


Marina’s proverbs


Has done the deal, walk boldly.


If mountain does not go to Magomet, that Magomet goes to mountain.


Not cloth of the person decorates, but he who knows much


The unpleasant truth is better than the most pleasing lie.


The kindness from heart comes, but from power dirty trick occurs.


God supports the innocent


Irina’s proverbs


Better untaught than ill-taught; little knowledge is a dangerous thing.


Studying without abilities is only a disaster.


Learn others’ thoughts, but don’t lose yours (Russian)


Eggplant is not grown from cucumber seed (Korean)


How much rice in a bowl depends on how much you have put in it before (Korean)



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Almaty Knows How to Celebrate a B.D. Party!!!

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