Posts tagged Shymkent

Aigerim’s Grandmother had a Positive Attitude

      My grandmother was a wonderful woman. Her name is Tatybaeva Pernekul. She was born in 1937 and played big role in my life. My grandmother was as highly educated as a good wife and had six kids. She was a strong person who taught me everything I know. She was a mother of six, always had a positive attitude, and my best friend. I feel that my grandmother was a sweet and fair lady. She was very friendly, and tried to get along with everyone. My grandmother fed the hungry, donated clothes, help people find jobs, and take care of kids. The whole city loved my grandmother dearly. She was born in Shymkent town in Arys village. She did not have many possessions, but she would give her all and never complain.

      She taught me values, how to care and love others. Basically, she showed me how to become a young girl. I wish she was here today, so that I could thank her for everything she has done for me. I am truly blessed to have had her be apart of my life. I remember, when we use to have a dinner, big play days, and just enjoying  my grandmother company and she enjoyed my.

      After finishing school Pernekul went to Shymkent. She graduated with a degree in teaching and began working at factory for ten years. Through my childhood, my grandmother meant togetherness, care and comfort, and a sense of belonging for all who knew her hospitality. As I have grown, I have become more aware of how strong my grandmother truly was. It was never a burden for her to put others before herself; in fact, I think she held a personal expectation to be the caretaker for everyone in the family.

      The death of my grandmother three years ago has created a spirit of encouragement, willpower, and a desire for success that has guided me through my life. She will continue to live on through every accomplishment of my own because she has been the one to inspire me in all I have done.

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No TRUE Kazakh wants to be a “Shala Kazakh”

I learned from Aigerim about the term of “Shala Kazakh” which is true of her husband’s family who are from the north of Kazakhstan Shala means that you are “poor in your own Kazakh culture” because you don’t know the language or many of the Kazakh traditions.

Aigerim’s parents, on the other hand, are from the rural areas of Kazakhstan and hung on to their Kazakh language.  However, during the Soviet past they met with problems in not knowing Russian.  Aigerim’s parents wanted to reverse that trend so they made sure their children did well in Russian but now they have become Shala Kazakh. Aigerim woefully admits to being a Shala Kazakh but she will make sure her son is not. Most Kazakhs now believe it is shameful not to know your own country’s language.  I was told that you will find better speakers of Kazakh among those people from the south of Kazakhstan like Taras, Kryzlorda and Shymkent and also to the east close to China

It seems that during the Soviet purges in the 1930s and 1940 there were those Kazakhs who fled to China. Now some of the children and grandchildren have returned to Kazakhstan to become citizens.  Their Kazakh language is very good but they have problems filling out forms at banks and other official documents which are still in Russian.  Not knowing the Russian language but only Kazakh (and Chinese), they are at a disadvantage.  Their documents and passports say they are Kazakh yet they need their children to help them translate from Russian to Kazakh. 

Of course now, the employers throughout Kazakhstan are trying to attract Kazakh speakers who know the Kazakh language (also Russian AND English).  Dilyara claimed she watched a movie of Americans who were speaking the Kazakh language fluently.  She said she would show it to me because  I’m convinced it is probably excellent dubbing of voices going on. I know that in China, Chinese dubbing voices are famous for speaking in Chinese to go along with the lip movements of the actors in American Hollywood films. 


For those Russians who remain living and working in Kazakhstan, they are supposedly shamed into learning Kazakh.  Especially true when those foreigners, such as Japanese or Americans come to Kazakhstan and learn Kazakh in a short time.  The question is asked: “What about the Russians who have always lived in Kazakhstan?”  They have a wide assortment of many Kazakhs to help them practice speaking Kazakh.  Aigerim pointed out that when she wants to practice her English, she has a difficult time finding a native speaker of English except when I’m available for her to talk to.  I’m hoping to get her connected with a researcher from Sweden so she can further practice her English speaking skills next fall when she arrives to Almaty.


Fun day learning more from Dilyara and Aigerim about their Kazakh culture while I’m supposedly helping them improve their English skills.



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“Buried Treasure” in Four Students’ Stories

        The following are stories about grandparents I received orally from my Kazakh students and some are real treasures worth the time digging up.  As I wrote notes, I asked questions all along the way.  Their names are typical Kazakh names, Aigerim, Bahtiyar, Galymzhan and Dana.  Some names are difficult to pronounce for westerners.  Of course, each has a meaning unbeknownst to me until I ask and usually they will tell me the Kazakh meaning. 

My first story starts with Aigerim.  She is an attractive 22 year old and very communicative.  She talked about her dad’s grandfather who was born in Kyrzlorda in 1904 and died in 1999.  She recalls hearing that the early years of 1930s were very difficult ones where many people starved.  Fortunately for her family, they went to another country of Turkmenistan, she can’t remember if it was Ashgabat or not but her father was born in Turkmenistan. 

When her great grandfather found out that things had normalized after the starvation period, the whole family returned to Kazakhstan again.  Aigerim’s father graduated from school and went into the army at age 19 and when he returned from where he was stationed in Ukraine after two years of service, his grandfather had moved the whole family to Almaty.  The great grandfather of Aigerim had checked it out because one of his daughters had married a man from Almaty and he found that it was a suitable place to live. 

Aigerim commented that it was very unusual for an older person to make such a decision to leave their home place where he was born.  Perhaps it was because he had worked for the railroad during WWII and was used to moving around.  She knows that her father was very thankful for the move from Kryzlorda to Almaty and he would often say, “Thank you my grandfather” for the move.  Aigerim’s father was the oldest of 8 children, he is 47 years old now as he was born in 1961.

Second, Baktiyar probably has the best English skills in speaking of the four students and he is a faithful member of my English class.  He has some Uighur connection and has heard many different stories about what has happened to that particular ethnic group.  He was cynical when he said there are two different versions of his grandfather’s death.  One is that he was a tragic war hero during WWII but the other story is that he liked to gamble and he was shot during a fight.  Baktiyar thinks the second story is more likely, he didn’t have as much to share about his family history.

However, Baktiyar DID say that his grandmother was married five times.  She had five children, four sons and one daughter.  After WWII the family moved to Almaty and unfortunately the half brothers and sister didn’t get along with each other, while they shared the same mother, they each had a different father.  Such was the life of struggle when there was no man in the family.  All this is on Baktiyar’s father side.  On his mother’s side, her mother died when she was 10 years old and her father had died earlier.  So Baktiyar’s mother’s big brother was like a father to her.

Third, Galymzhan is from Shymkent and had help from his classmates to get his story out, he has the weakest English skills.  He will be getting married on October 24 to another woman from his hometown but whom he met in Almaty. Once married, he is determined to go back to Shymkent to find out more information from her still living grandmother.  He wished he knew more to tell his inquisitive American teacher.

As it turns out, Galymzhan’s great grandfather was a very rich man many years ago on his mother’s side.  In fact, in his village or aul, he was considered a powerful leader.  When things got dangerous for him after the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, his great grandfather knew he had to bury his gold and silver in the ground.  He ran off to Mongolia or China, Galymzhan doesn’t remember which country and there he hid out.  Meanwhile his family was left behind near Turkestan, about 30 kilometers away in a village there, a place called Kemtau.  The group joked about how they would like to go back to Shymkent and find that “buried treasure.”

Galymzhan said that his grandmother was from Taras and she worked all her life in a factory on a sewing machine.  She was awarded many medals by the USSR for her outstanding work.  Yes, she was a good communist, we all smiled at that thought.

Finally, bubbly and funny Dana spoke about her father’s parents, her grandmother and grandfather.  They were in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan but later moved to Shymkent and then Aktau.  Her father is a lawyer who practices law representing a factory in Almaty.  Her mother is 44 years old and a teacher at an elementary school.  She got married when she was 17 years old, they have five children, two boys and three daughters.  Dana recalls that her mother’s father was very handsome, tall and intelligent.  He never was sick a day in his life, when he went to WWII he got many medals.  He died around 1991 and Dana was so surprised because he always appeared so healthy.

Dana had a funny story to tell about her father because she thought the day’s assignment was to come up with a “funny” story.  NO, I had wanted a “family” story and I was glad that all four had complied.  I am hoping to find out more from my other students tomorrow.  I believe every single Kazakh, and other nationalities who are called Kazakhstani, have interesting stories to tell about their grandparents. Ethnographers and qualitative researchers would have a treasure trove to dig up if only they would travel and live in the “ends of the earth” for a spell to discover what a great country Kazakhstan really is!!!

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