Posts tagged Kostanay

More Kazakhstan Photos and Minnesota Wheat Field

I thought some photos from around Kazakhstan would suit my “reading” audience for today.  I like taking photos of billboards and the happy man carrying packages is an advert about grain I believe.  I took this photo when I was recruiting students in Kostanay area this past spring. The next one was taken in the grain fields my grandpa used to plow and plant and harvest in northwestern Minnesota.  My husband knows a lot about the grain harvesting in Kazakhstan when it was a republic of the Soviet Union.    Before the Soviet Union gave directives from Moscow about what to plant where, the Kazakhs were considered good horsemen, still are.  Thus the photo of the horse and rider in the steppes of KZ. Finally I have a photo of a statue in Independence Hall in Astana which shows a girl holding up the top of a yurt.  It has some very special significance. I wish I knew more about it. This circular piece in the flag for Kyrgyzstan, so it is very relevant to nomadic life of old.

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Photos from Kostanay, KZ (Part III)

Last of a series of photos showing off Kostanay. I love looking at the billboards in Kazakhstan, trying to figure out the main text that is usually in Kazakh and Russian.  Some of the current messages are cheering the Kazakhs on about Nauryz, the biggest celebration that has become a five day holiday this year.  Not much coaxing is needed to get Kazakh people to gather with families and play games, eat lots of food and generally enjoy the spring like weather. Festivities started last Friday but is extending with most all things closed until Wednesday.

As I write this in Astana, however, it is snowing again as if winter is here to stay!!!  More photos from Kostanay follow. I can’t get over the brick Soviet apartment buildings painted green. Also, one billboard advertises about Fast Picnic and Business Lunch (restaurants offer a discount during the day on weekdays because the usual prices are outrageously high):

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Photos from Kostanay, Kazakhstan (Part II)

The best part of traveling to other regions of the great country of Kazakhstan is meeting the Kazakh people.  Irina and I had a chance to be in front of many students and especially fun was meeting Adila, Medina and Aida.  Cute girls who want to come to our new university next fall.  Of course we want all the other students who asked good questions too.  Thankful for good Kazakh administrators who know how to run a tight ship when it comes to some of these secondary schools.  

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Photos from Kostanay, Kazakhstan

Always good to see a new city in Kazakhstan outside of the two that start with the letter “A” Almaty and Astana.  We almost got to see the very western city of Aktobe when Irina I flew to Kostanay on Thursday morning because we overshot (due to some mechanical problems). We sat as transit passengers in the Aktobe airport for 50 minutes.  Once back on the Air Astana plane again we finally arrived to the Kostanay airport, very windy.

Later we found out we were NOT supposed to take photos of the airport, even the outside of it.  I had wanted one photo that was on the side of a building that was very Soviet looking. It had metalic, giant sheaves of grain as an emblem depicting the wheat production known to the area of Kazakhstan.  I would have liked to have taken photos in one of the libraries I stopped in looking for the Internet cafe in Kostanay but thought better of it.  The librarians were so helpful and acted as if they had never talked to a foreigner before.  Sadly the rooms and shelves of books were outdated, it was like stepping back into a time machine to the 1970s.  I thought it NOT appropriate to take photos of that because the people who worked there might have felt ashamed.

Kostanay is close to the Russian border and walking around the city on our way to the Tsum department store could have been anywhere in Ukraine.  The streets had trees that were fully grown (not to be seen in the new city of Astana), the buildings had the same architecture as anywhere in the former Soviet Union. I saw more Nivas, Ladas and other poor man’s vehicles in this town than the Mercedes, BMWs, Audis and Hummers you often see in Almaty. I bought three little plants I put in my carryon luggage that were much cheaper at the Tsum department store than any prices I had seen back in Astana, where things seem greenless, barren, and cold.  Good memories of the agricultural area of Kostanay whenever I will look at my little plants growing and flourishing in our Astana flat.  Check out the funny dress on the mannequin that probably sold for a LOT of money that no one could afford.  Cell phones? They were “celling” them everywhere on the first floor of Tsum!  I’ll stick with my old clunky Nokia phone that is about five years old.

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Kostanay Events thus far

Yesterday we awoke to continued wicked winds, cold blasts from the west. The flags everywhere were in full salute mode. These fierce winds had not let up from the night before where you could barely stand still at the stoplight, the strong wind pushed you in places you didn’t want to go. Especially tricky if there was ice and a slight slope to the tundra below one’s boots. In this case, I didn’t know if the Air Astana aircraft would be able to push hard enough against the wind to reach our western destination of Kostanay.

When Irina and I arrived to the airport with our luggage full of our university’s posters and brochures, we found out that we were re-routed to go to Aktobe first. This city is about the farthest west you can go in Kazakhstan and they are an hour behind in time. Once in the Aktobe airport, we waited as transit passengers for 50 minutes, we got back on the same aircraft with our American sounding pilot who had a Korean last name of Kim.

In the captain of our ship’s words as we were about to land in Kostanay, he said that the visibility was so low that we might have to circle a bit until conditions improved. Irina turned to me and matter of factly said that it might be possible that we would head back to Aktobe. Gulp. However, that wasn’t as bad as our traveling companions who had gone to the Astana airport with us. Iznaur and Gulmira had their flight cancelled and tried to get on the train to their second destination but that had been cancelled three times as well. Their travel plans were scrapped until a later date and with about 70 kilos worth of suitcase full of brochures they returned to work.

At least Irina and I finally landed in Kostanay and had only a half hour before we were in front of about 200 Kazakh and Kazakhstani students. We pulled out the university information from our luggage to distribute to the eager, but very young students. They ALL wanted a colorful brochure but we tried to give to every other student so they could share. We realized that not all students are interested in our university especially this younger crowd, some were only 9th or 10th graders gathered for an Olympiad. These were students from all over the Kostanay region and not from the top schools like we were used to seeing in Taras.

Irina and I quickly went through our powerpoint presentation of 23 slides explaining the program and procedure of registering for the English entrance test off our university website. I then asked for questions in English, of course. The students were a bit hesitant to ask, finally I heard a weak “How are you?” I smiled and said, “I am fine and you?” I could see their English abilities were on the shy side. Another used a different ploy, “Tell us about yourself.” I disregarded that textbook sentence because I had already given them a quick summary of who I was and why I loved Kazakhstan, a country of romance for me.

I didn’t go into detail about why I thought Kazakhstan was a place of romance and how I had met my husband in 1993 in Almaty. I told them instead that I had lived and taught in China, Philippines, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and finally Kazakhstan. I asked them a rhetorical question about which county I liked the best. I answered my own question with, “Kazakhstan, of course.” Those who were following my American English, smiled, they were pleased that I loved their country.

Actually, it was my husband who had wanted to come to Kostanay because of his interest in the grain production that this area of Kazakhstan is known for. However, just before landing, I could see that there was open pit mining, two huge craters of different levels continued to drop deep into the earth. I could see shelter belts but the rest of the land was under the snow, no way of knowing how successful their farming was. Everything looked pure but cold.

I asked for a show of hands of how many were interested in the different programs and about 10% were interested in engineering, I would guess about 20. About 5-6 each indicated an interest in economics, international relations, chemistry, physics, math. I had forgotten biology as someone shouted that out, oh yes, biology? Another five or so raised their hands. When it was obvious that we had answered their questions in the overly warm auditorium we let them go. Some stayed huddled in their groups while another 20 or so swarmed around Irina to ask her questions in Russian.

Other questions asked of Irina were “Do we need the ENT test?” “How many years for medical school?” “Will there be sports or gym facilities or teams to belong to in sports?” One parent asked, “If my child got 113 on the ENT, does she have special privileges?”

The best part of my day was to meet three young Kazakh girls named Adila, Medina and Aida from Kostanay. The first two were twin sisters and all three had wanted to go to the U.S. on the FLEX program but didn’t make the cut. However, they had friends who were in the US now on that program. These girls also had parents who wanted them to be in a particular discipline different from what they wanted. Aida wants to be a doctor but her economist mother is strongly opposed to that, she wants Aida to be an economist. The other two sisters have a mother who is a pharmacist but they are being strongly advised to pursue economics as well.

Something to consider is that these young people sometimes don’t know what they want to do yet, it is too early to tell at the tender age of 17 years. Also, these young people may have gifts and talents in one direction but due to societal or parental pressure will be forced into a discipline that is not their interest. I asked for a show of hands of how many considered themselves sportsman, about 25 raised their hands. I asked how many thought of themselves as musicians, good with the dombra, piano, violin, singing, another 25 raised their hands. So, those who have gifts in these areas might pursue that route and not be ready to be fitted into a rigid discipline yet. We shall see who signs up, who passes the test and who finally shows up next fall. I told them that I hope to see many of them at our university in September.

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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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