Posts tagged Semey

Impressions of American Guest Speaker who Knows Kazakh

The following are three impressions from ten of my Professional Development students who listened to Chad’s talk the other day, I think they are insightful:

Student #1 – It is clear that Chad is a good teacher. He is modern, positive and open to students’ opinions. It was a pleasure for me to talk to him, he has charisma. When we introduced ourselves, Chad tried to remember our names by heart. After each introduction he pronounced our names, so he could remember us. While getting introduced he had a little chat with us, and during the conversation he called us by our names. That was his way to find a common language with people. Nothing sounds better for a person than his name. Imagine how you get happy when someone knows your name. Your answer will be: “Oh, you remembered me”.
Chad is sociable and you needn’t to try to say something to make him speak. On the contrary, he shared his life experiences with us and tried to get all of us free and comfortable. He didn’t ask to stop him in case we do not understand him. It shows he was sure he will find a way to our flow of ideas. The fact that he has a family of teachers surprised me, it is ok to have a family of engineers, businessmen, lawyers or something like those. I remember how my teacher used to tell me not to choose a profession of a teacher. She was tired of teaching, and it is clear she won’t let her child to be a teacher. Chad’s family is a devoted teacher family and the fact that he didn’t succeed in his business can be explained as “a call of blood”. [not sure what that means?]
Earlier I met Chad’s little children and didn’t even think that they might be studying in Kazakh schools. I think the teachers must be happy to have students like Chad’s children. I don’t know whether you experienced it or not, but it is a great pleasure to speak to little Americans. I do really like it. They are so sweet.
However, the most important thing I liked about Chad is his knowledge of Kazakh. His Kazakh is very good, I am saying not as a Kazakh,who is happy to see American speaking my native language, but as a person, who does really appreciate his knowledge. I watched the way he spoke Kazakh, and I admit that his Kazakh is perfect.
In an hour conversation, we felt so easy and relaxed that we didn’t notice the time passed. However, it is the usual thing that happens to us when we have a quest speaker invited.)))

Student #2 – I confess that I was really waiting for Chad’s talk since our teacher mentioned about that. As a classmate had said, we’ve heard a lot about him from a student of Foundation Program who is from Semey. She really admires him. And now me also. Especially I like how he speaks Kazakh – like a real Kazakh man. We, Kazakh people, need to learn much from him. Because really, as one of my classmates said, if a Kazakh man speaks incorrect Kazakh we start to make fun of him or just forbid him to talk in this language. Maybe we do it because we don’t want this man to make fun of the language making so many errors. But I do agree with Chad, we MUSTN’T behave in that way, otherwise no one would learn Kazakh.This is very complicated issue and we, all the Kazakh people, should join in order to save our mother tongue and stop speaking Russian to each other.
Also it is obvious that Chad is a very smart, experienced teacher. In one hour I learned from him so many useful things. If I talk in general, we had time just for introducing ourselves, but he shared the techniques and methods with us only making comments on our research topics. If only we had more time… But nowadays people tend to be so busy, I know it from my own experience. I even don’t have for myself on weekends! Anyway, the techniques Chad mentioned, like making the students create language situation themselves or arranging one day or night of English, using pair works, also using bean or such kinds of ways of positive motivation… I think all these could be very useful and effective in teaching not only a foreign language but also Kazak.

Student #3 – It was the best talk I’ve ever had with guest speakers, because Chad knew Kazakh language and our traditions too, which gave us an opportunity to learn and share our teaching methods. I was proud of his Kazakh, his speech was like a Kazakh man’s. He gave us good advice in Kazakh, how to encourage people to speak Kazakh. And all my classmates followed his advice, it means his advice works. After the class, all my classmates started to speak Kazakh, even those who had never spoken it. I think if we English teachers know Kazakh as well as Russian, we will show our lessons to Kazak teachers teaching students in Kazakh and using the same great methods and approaches. I think, people slowly understand the importance of Kazakh language. Even, in president’s election the candidates have to pass Kazakh language first. It is one of the main task for the candidates. Some of them passed it successfully, some of them failed shamefully.

(to be continued)

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More Kazakh Teachers’ Writings (Part II)

Yesterday’s blog was written well, it was written from the heart.  Today’s essay by a Kazakh teacher was written from the head, but just as good.  All Kazakh teachers who are worth their salt are doing the best they can to improve themselves for the good of their country.  This person from Semey wrote eloquently about how she hopes to make a difference:

“What is future for any country is an acute and constant issue of discussion.  Is it it’s natural resources?  Or maybe it is it’s land or people?  Kazakhstan is a country which can be considered rich and developed taking into consideration our land, our industry and some other indexes.

But a real wealth for us is our children.  The saying that “Our children create our future” is undoubtably correct.  What country do we want to live in?  It depends on what upbringing we give our children because they are future citizens of the country.  They will accept important decisions concerning the future development of the Republic, they’ll present our country on a world political summit meetings and find new ways of the Republic development.

Personally, I can’t do much to make a difference for the future of this country.  But being a teacher and working with children makes it possible for me to influence their young minds and create in some way their consciousness.  Surely, a teacher himself should be a very intelligent, well brought up person with the wide-range of knowledge spheres.  He should constantly work over his (or her) self-development, possess moral principles in order to be an example for his pupils.  Very often children copy or just follow the behavior model or attitude to the world from the adults they see every day.  So it’s obligatory for every teacher or tutor to be a right and good example for them.

“Great route consists of small steps” says the Chinese proverb.  My routine work at school are these small steps which may lead to the making a difference for the future of this country of Kazakhstan.”

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More Kazakh Teachers’ Writings

I’ve been privileged to read through many Kazakh and Kazakhstani teachers’ essays. They were “tested” and wrote these essays in the time allotment of half hour with an option of writing an answer to one or the other of my two questions.  This essay below answers how they can make a difference for the future of their country of Kazakhstan.  If I have more teachers to test, I will try for a different question because this is on the minds of every person in education in Kazakhstan.  Obviously, they have ready answers and this one from Semey is a very good one:

“I’ve been working as a teacher for more than 30 years and I am convinced that teachers are a special category of citizens who make their own contribution into their country’s future.  We should always stay young otherwise our students won’t follow our ideas.  Our country develops rather quickly, a lot of information gets from TV and Internet practically daily and a teacher should be able to cope with all this.  I see my aim as a teacher to help children grow up with a great load of knowledge on my subject, that is English, so they must be able to speak English fluently and understand grammar.  I remember the time when English was the only purpose of my students, they simply wanted to know the language and dreamt of being a translator.

Nowadays, students want to become specialists in fields other than English but proficiency and fluency in English are regarded highly.  So, the best way is to teach everybody as if for being an interpreter and let him or her chooe their life career themselves.  I think I can make a difference for the future of Kazakhstan by giving my students that level of knowing English that will help them become really useful and necessary for their country.  Society is a rather complicated machine and it works properly only when all the details are in their places.  So, I clearly understand my place among the variety of different details, I am not the main one, but not the least.  I am part of the chain and my responsibility is to provide future generations with the knowledge of English.  This will lead to mutual understanding between people and as a result, to a bigger progress of our country.

In a hundred years from now, nobody will remember me, but I shall live in my students’ ideas, I will be important as I was important in the life of a child.”

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Kazakh Teachers’ Write about their Grandparents (Part IV)

The following writing is from a teacher in Semey and what she remembers about her grandfather in particular.  She wrote this essay in 30 minutes, I think you will see that she was very fond of her grandfather who was highly literate in the Soviet ways of thinking while still maintaining his Kazakh heritage. I’m sure a very tough act to pull off.

“I’d prefer to write about my grandparents and exactly about my grandfather Gani Butobayev, a teacher of Kazakh and Kazakh literature.  When people ask me why did I choose this profession [of teaching], I answer without hesitation that I inherit teacher’s skills from my grandfather Gani Butobayevich.  He was a well known teacher in town, near Ust Komenogorsky as well as a famous school director.  He was a philologist of the Kazakh language and was very smart in French, as well.  I’ve never seen him but many people who knew him as a teacher and as an individual said that he was an orator and knew how to attract people’s attention.  And no doubt, he could teach very well, he had his own methodics and ways in teaching language.  Even if I didn’t see him, I admire him, he left so much work, sometimes I look through them and realise that he was a Master in his field.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember the exact years of his working experience, but I can guess it was in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, the educational system was different comparing with today’s.  The teachers had their own ideologies, beliefs and systems.  My grandfather was a fan of Marks [sic] & Engels, and he read all their works.  Then he wrote his own works based on these two famous politicians works.  The future seems quite different now, but 30, 40 years ago they believed people would be equal and honest with what they do.

Talking about education system of Soviet Union, it was a good one, to my mind.  Universities prepared highly qualified specialists with good knowledges and well-behaved individuals.  Comparing with these time kids, they were more polite, intelligent and able to learn.

Summarizing, I’d like to add that time passes very quickly and everything changes, but we shouldn’t change our upbringing base that was given by our grandparents, as well as our culture, honor, traditions and our origin.

God bless my Kazakhstan anytime!


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Kazakh and Kazakhstani Teachers Write about their Grandparents’ Past

I’ve been privileged to read through essays of very talented Kazakh and Kazakhstani teachers who answered another question for me:  “Write about your grandparents…what did they do and what are/were their thoughts about the former Soviet Union?”  This teacher might not have had a good grasp in her English grammar but she certainly gets her story across:

“I am going to tell about my mother’s mum and my father’s mum that is my grandmothers.  I will not tell about grandfathers because both of my grannies were divorced.  I want to start with my mum’s mum.  She was nice, kind, careful, full of wisdoms, witty, very strong physically.  After the revolution, her parents were exiled to Kazakhstan from Ukraine.  They were rather well-to-do family.  So my granny’s name was Ekatrina K.  She was the eighth in the family.  Her childhood was very hard, children as she told , in their family ate poorly, dressed poorly, worked in one of the farms “kolhoz,” then my granny moved to Semey.  In 1930s she entered the evening courses and got the profession of filer.  I think she was a heroine.  She was one of the first workers “Women filers” “Women builders” of our famous meat-and milk plant.  

One day she was caught by a great fire, but she managed to escape out of a huge burning part where she was working.  Many of other women could not survive. During the WWII, she was in the Labour Army and continued her work at the plant. She lived in meat-and-milk region, lately she got a flat.  I think she was one of the founders of the whole city growth.  I am proud I took after her, I am pity she died so early.

My father’s mum was an example to us too.  I gave her name to my eldest daughter because I want her to be so kind, helpful, careful, full of smiles and optimistic.  She lived in Almaty city and brought up four children by herself, she managed to give all the children higher education and good qualities of a person.  I can not say that their thoughts about the former Soviet Union were bad, they (lived) were living their usual lives, full of hardships, full of love and happiness.  

My grannies, Ekaterina and Elena are the best recollections of my memory.  I am proud I am their grandchild that I am more educated, happier and when I am together with my three children and a grandson, I try to tell in details about their wonderful lives.U

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Yerkezhan’s Grandmother was very popular in her village

My grandmother’s name is Bagira Toleutaikyzy. She was born in 1922 in a small village, near my home town Semey. When she was 23 she married with my grandfather and gave birth to 8 children, 3 boys and 5 girls. As many other peasant families, they had a big amount of cattle, which required permanent looking after, but that is not the last thing that she did, she also worked in local school as a teacher.

She was my grandmother from my mother’s side. And when I was little girl, I went to my grandparents every summer and spent my holidays with them. And I liked to be with grandmother. I think what I like about her in the first place is her calm. She was very small woman, with middle black eyes, warm hands and big heart. She was a person of wisdom and kindness. I loved her gentle way of speaking. I suppose this is really why she became such a good mother, teacher and grandmother.

I consider her to be very popular in that village. And I suppose the reason why I think she was so popular is because she was really good teacher and she was appreciated for it. For example, new interactive classroom was built in her honour in the school where my grandmother worked.

One more thing, which I suppose should be mentioned, is that she grew up with 8 children. And there is no doubt that she gave really good upbringing, because nowadays, when they lost their parents, they support each other in different ways and never lose the links between each other even though they live in different cities.

I remember how she taught me and mu sisters to embroider, but we didn’t like this occupation.  We helped her in the kitchen-garden and it was so exciting to watch how she milked the cow. Of course, sometimes she cursed us, but I’m totally sure, that she cursed in order to make us better.

Unfortunately, she died very early, when I was only 8, nevertheless I will remember and love her my whole life.

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Aigul T’s Grandpa Led a Simple Life

I am going to write about my grandfather from my mother’s side. There is nothing special about his life, but I have chosen him because I love him very much. He brought me up, with the help of my aunt, until my third birthday.  This was because my mother at that time was looking after her ill mother, my grandmother.

My grandfather was born in Boztal village, which is located in East Kazakhstan near my hometown- Semey in 1934 and now he is 75 year old. He did not participate in wars or do any heroic actions because he led a simple life: a lovely wife, many children, also many grandchildren, and a simple job. Now he is “molda” in a mosque.

Maybe for many people he is a typical old man, but he is very important for me. He is the most kind and patient person I have ever known. I have never heard him say rude words and he did not offend even a small insect. I used to visit him every summer and we would spend a lot of time together, for example going to the forest or steppe. He taught me many things and I used to do all guys’ work. Also he was telling me many interesting and very useful stories. Sometimes, when something is happening I just recall his words and follow them. But now, unfortunately, I managed to visit him just once a year because of my study.

Now he is seriously ill and I am worrying about him very much, because he takes such a big part in my heart. He had an operation, but surgeons said that it will prolong his life just for some years or even months. I am praying every night for him and even if something bad happens, I will not forget him and he will be with me everytime and everywhere.

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More “Buried Treasure” in Kazakhstan

I am getting family stories from my students in dribs and drabs and I got another from Gulbakhyt who is an attractive young woman.  She has a 13 year old son and a five year old daughter.  Her father takes care of their daughter while she and her husband are at work.  Her father has an interesting story that seemingly is buried while living in our modern, globalized city of Almaty that is changing so quickly.  He used to be a driver or chauffer for a corn factory but now he is not working full time because he has problems with his liver.  Gulbakhyt’s mother is an elementary school teacher.  Gulbakhyt’s grandfather on her father’s side was from Semey.  On Gulbakhyt’s mother’s side, she was from southern Kazakhstan, close to Almaty. 


Gulbakhyt’s family story on her father’s side is one of fleeing the communist authorities which goes along the same line as several of the others I have heard from other students.  Because his family was rich back in 1936, her grandfather escaped to China. Back in Soviet Kazakhstan they had been labeled “kulaks” simply for having too many sheep or herds of cattle.  Consequently, Gulbakhyt’s father was born in China and went to school there but he only knew Kazakh.  His family returned in 1956 to Karaganda, Kazakhstan when her father was about 9 or 10 years old. 


As is true of other stories I have heard about “buried treasure” Gulbakhyt’s grandfather had buried all the gold and silver he owned before he left for China because he knew at the Chinese border he would have been stopped by the guards and would have lost all.  We oohed and ahhed about what might have been if they knew where the treasure was hidden.

This triggered a memory from her classmate Baktiyar who has an aunt on his father’s side who escaped to Tashkent.  They lived in a very bad situation before they moved to back to Bishkek.  Recently the aunt’s family received a letter from a Swiss bank telling of money deposited by their grandfather when he went to Switzerland during the purges.  We joked with Baktiyar that he could help his distant aunt in retrieving the money by accompanying her to Switzerland.  No, he would rather stay in Kazakhstan and let them sort it out on their own.


Another one of their classmates named Medet told us about his grandfather on his father’s side who was from Taldykorgan.  He had owned many horses.  He died in 1997 and had worked as a farmer on a kolhoz (collective farm).  His grandmother had died earlier than her husband with health problems in the lungs.


Medet’s father studied at the medical institute and after he graduated as a dentist, he went to Semipalatinsk with his family.  Actually it was a military city of Iagos where his father was stationed.  Medet is the second in the family and his name means “Hope for Parents,” his brother was born in 1982, Medet born in 1984 and his sister in 1986.


As any good Kazakh should know, Medet was able to name all his ancestors back seven generations.  I should have asked for the correct spelling of the names but this is how it sounded to me.  His grandfather – Abuzatik, GG – Sulimin, GGG – Zahiby, GGGG – Mohamajan, GGGGG – Kozhakart.  Next time someone gives me these important ancestor names going back that far, I will be sure to get the accurate spelling.  I asked for the meanings of each of these names but Medet didn’t know.


On Medet’s mother’s side of the family his grandfather was also employed at a kolhoz and he was known as a manager who cares for the biological part of running a big farm.  In other words, he was the Harvest Engineer.  His mother was from the Aktobe or northeast part of Kazakhstan. Medet’s father and mother met in Almaty.  His mother went to the Medical institute and became a pharmacist, his older brother is a dentist and his sister works for Air Astana with child care.


I learned a Russian expression from Baktiyar the other day, in the rough translation it is “don’t sit on my neck.”  This means, “don’t be a burden on others or to be a freeloader.”  In actual truth, the young people of today, especially in Kazakhstan, highly respect the older generation.  Older people are not shunted aside or ignored and yet I’ve heard stories where many widows or babushkas cannot survive on the pensions they are currently living on.  Those without family are nearly destitute.  I want to put in a plug for the “Hands of Mercy” ministry that helps feed at least 90 older people in Almaty because noone else is helping them.  I have met and know the people who bring cheer to these cast aside living “treasures.”


My students have inherited from their grandparents some amazing stories about their family histories if only we would take time to sit and listen to them.  It makes me respect this culture more and more and desire that many more westerners would appreciate the hardships these older people from different nationalities living in Kazakhstan have endured. 

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