Posts tagged Thomas Jefferson

“So you think you can WRITE” (Part III) and my confession about writing

Okay, I don’t see myself as a writer, never have.  I must confess that. Just like I never saw myself as a musician though I grew up in a very musical family.  But I enjoy both. What I’ve done to get other people to play their instrument (if I know they are good) is to start playing the piano or violin and then their bashfulness fades or I’m so pathetic that they MUST take over.  So too, it seems every family has a scribe in their family, someone who writes a lot of letters (like in the old days when we used postage stamps and envelopes) and who reads or experiences a lot in order to have content to write about.

As a writing teacher, I try to get my Kazakh and Kazakhstani students to write instead of me so that I can move over and let them tell me what I think is in their hearts. All my former students (American, Ukrainian) have something to write about because they have thoughts, important thoughts that need to be communicated.  I provide the structure and parameters and away they go….

That’s what writing is about right, to get your point across?  Some people may be eloquent or persuasive speakers, others are comical or have a dry wit which makes me laugh.  Others are erudite and quick on their feet.  Being a good communicator in speech does not necessarily make a good writer though it is beneficial if you possess both skills especially for politicians.  First, you have to win the campaign and then after you win and are elected, you serve your term.  After all the talk, THEN you can write memoirs about it. Memoirs are for those who have earned the “write” to put something on paper and perhaps have a great story to tell to inspire others.

Why have I been writing in a blog almost every day since January of 2006? (I started my first one in Kyiv, Ukraine).  That’s almost 2,000 entries, but I let others write while I showcase their writing, especially my students’ writing.  Why do I expose myself only to have people disagree with my position on politics or my teaching methodologies or whatever else I write about concerning Kazakhstan? I DO know I have detractors in my reading audience.

First, I don’t care what other people think about what my thoughts are, they don’t have to read my blog.  No one is making those who disagree with me read what I write.  Second, I write because it is therapeutic, I vent about what happens to me in this strange culture of Kazakhstan.  In the recent past, my Kazakh employers didn’t like seeing what I wrote however it helped me cope with a difficult and complex situation. So, I might still have Kazakhs or Kazakhstanis with ruffled feathers for what I perceive in their culture.  Fine, they can straighten me out but they just need to know that these are MY perceptions from a western point of view.  Other westerners might come away with other impressions, but are they writing about it? Third, despite the cultural snafus, I want to inform my reading audience about what a GREAT country this unknown land of Kazakhstan is.  The Kazakhs come from an oral culture, so there is not much written for us foreigners to get to know more about this marvelous land.  Therefore, I do the best I can to track what might be of relevance to my ever expanding view on this people group.

My aunt in North Carolina sent me an interesting link about writing in the digital age. The author of this article backtracked to Thomas Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence but he did a lot of self-editing and also had outside readers proof his work.  This important document was a joint effort with much input and with many signing below at risk of their lives or livelihood.  Jessica Lewis, KELT director, is quoted as saying that the key to writing good plays is rewriting.  Yes, that is what writing teachers espouse as well. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite!!!

However, writing in the digital age, blogs are about self-expression and let everything hang out there, bad spelling, poor grammar, etc.  Yes, wrong thinking as well. I realize there is risk involved in what I write about my perceptions. It’s hazardous to do a once through and not revise and rewrite to get the words JUST right.  I know I need to do more self-editing and tighten up what I write but my guiding principle is to write EVERY DAY!!!  I had a Norwegian relative that I’ve researched (S.A. Olsness) who wrote in a journal or diary for 50 years and English happened to be his second language, Norwegian was his first.  He came up with a lot of excellent content that I’ve culled through.

I would hope that at the end of the day, I would have a blog that is worthy of giving good content in the future to an interested researcher or writer about what happens here in Kazakhstan.  I believe it is a very significant country sandwiched in between China and Russia.  I would also challenge other Kazakhs to check out the website for KELT and write a one-act play in English that would help inform audiences in the U.S. about this extremely important land.  I think you CAN write!!!  (I’ll just move over to watch this happen, PIONEER THE FUTURE!!!)

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Thoughts on Leadership (Part II)

These thoughts are not my own but what I compiled from Central Asian students answering a question about what THEY think good leadership is.  I haven’t had time to check to see if the quotes they took out of books or off the Internet are accurate, if my dear readers find one that is out of line, please comment.  I’ll be quick to make a correction. I write that caveat because I checked a quote several years ago that was supposedly a Kyrgyz proverb and it turned out to be classic Karl Marx.

First of all, leaders must be good orators. If you see the history of leadership you can see that each leader had a good oratorical talent that made people do things not with threats, but just with their speech.  We know Bobur, one of the famous Uzbek leaders, because he built up a great empire.  Thanks to his oratorical talent he had encouraged his army before the fight against India and won it, although the number of his soldiers was 20 times fewer than his enemies…I think Amir Temur as one of the great leaders.  He was also known as one of the best orators in his time.  He was the master of his work.  I mean, he knew in advance what would happen next from a situation.  Once when he was going to fight against soldiers he had few soldiers.  Then he made a good tactic by ordering soldiers to tie branch of trees to their horses. While riding horses with branch of trees toward enemies, the soldiers of Temur frightened enemies who saw dust from distance and thought the number of soldiers is larger than theirs.  Temur’s obstinacy gave him a chance to build p Temurids Empire.  There was a big fight between Mongols and him, called “Loy jangi” for Tashkent.  Although he lost the fight, thanks to his obstinacy, he was able to squeeze out Mongols from the city later.

Bill Gates “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

Motto: “Today you are a reader, tomorrow you are a leader.”

Marcus Aurelius – “Waste no more time arguing what a good leader should be.  Be one.”

George Patton “leaders are willing to make decisions.”

Lao Tzu “To lead the people, walk behind them.”

William Penn “No man is fit to command another who cannot command himself.”

Plato “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.”

Russian saying: “He who does not risk, will never drink champagne.”

Tamurlane “It is better to die than to kneel.”  “Power is justice.” Tamurlane awarded soldiers according to their service.

Kurtsy “Army without a commander is a body without a soul”

Thomas Jefferson “All management skills consist in the art to be fair.”

Carrie Ann Tajaran; “A good leader directs the path to success and let his followers use their own skills and knowledge in achieving it.”

Stephen Covey “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

Friedrich Nietzsche “To do great things is difficult; but to command great things is more difficult.”

Famous Am. Business leader and writer Harold R.McAlindon “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

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“Pursuit of Happiness” in Kazakhstan


The question has been raised something to the effect, “Is there a Kazakh law in place to remember the victims of the evilness of the Soviet empire?” This was printed in the “Metalis” No. 22(387) newspaper published out of Karaganda dated June 9, 2008. It was an article about the Soviet government imposed famines in Kazakhstan in the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s.  A week earlier in another publication was an earlier article Metalis No. 21(386) reporting similar facts.   My husband regularly reads through Russian newspapers and he came across this article which I’ll bring to my Russian reading colleagues and ask more about what the author, Serik Maleev, was reviewing of current literature concerning the famines in Kazakhstan.


One of our American founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, believed in a Creator God and Jefferson thereby also believed in life and liberty.  That is why our Fourth of July celebration is so very important to TRUE Americans in order to remember what these brave men, who were forming a nation, believed.  Jefferson wrote to Monroe in 1782 “The Giver of life gave it for happiness and not for wretchedness.”  Unfortunately, there has been a LOT of wretched things that have happened in this land of Kazakhstan that has so much beauty, so much hope, so much potential. 


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” –Declaration of Independence as originally written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776.


Thomas Jefferson also wrote the following to Thaddeus Kasciusko in 1810 “The freedom and happiness of men [are] the sole objects of all legitimate government.” I pray for the future leaders of Kazakhstan in not only their “pursuit of happiness” but also of life and liberty.  I pray that the leaders would not become future oppressers, recognizing what the earlier Kazakh citizens suffered under the tsars of Russian and later under the communist system.  Education about this terrible era and also laws in place to remember those who just wanted to live and be free in this beautiful country would stop such evil leaders short of doing more damage. 


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