Posts tagged Turkey

Politely “Unfriended” because of Russian Politics

I have a “former” Russian friend or really she was more like an acquaintance from Kazakhstan who I knew several years ago in Almaty. Last week she informed me that her grandparents were from Belarussia, Moldova, Ukraine, Poland. They had undergone much heartache with the purges under Stalin. In no uncertain terms she told me that the Russians suffered under Stalin as well. I knew that.

She was responding to one of my posts on Facebook about the Ukrainian Holodomor. I guess she was warning me a week ago that I was offending her because she thought I was blaming the Russians for what is currently going on in Crimea. I told her I was very careful to NOT say that the Russians are attacking Ukraine but rather Putin is. He, in turn, expects people to follow his orders so those in the army, who happen to be Russian, are invading Crimea and eventually Ukraine. (I have an adopted Russian nephew whom I love dearly and I realize all Russians are living under some tragic circumstances, not of their own doing!)

I am careful to not blame the Russians because I realize they have been brainwashed about what really happened on Maidan. I was not there at Maidan, but I believe video clips and eye witness accounts from my friends who were there on the ground are reliable. Russia Today (RT) is not credible. That is why one American journalist, Elizabeth Wahl, had to quit. She had to step down because she admitted there was a lot of hatred being vented toward Americans. It continues to foment, unabated.

For Putin, it is all about hatred of the U.S. and other western nations. That is what he is broadcasting to his own people, believing there are Russians trapped in the former Soviet countries. He still has the Soviet Union mentality when it was a “super power.” I believe his own country is about to implode, economically and emotionally. His own people are not happy with the way things are going. Indeed, some are satisfied with Putin. In fact, they are very proud of the Russians’ records at the latest winter Olympics. However, talk to the people who lived next to all that construction in Sochi. I’m wondering if those construction workers who helped build all the opulent buildings for the Olympics were actually paid. I believe they were slaves who HAD to do this for Putin’s own ego.

In my devotional yesterday I came across several verses that applied to Putin from Psalms 33:16-19:
“No king is saved by the multitude of an army. A mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety, neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him. On those who hope in His mercy to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.”

Yes, the Ukrainians have the famine of 1932-33 deeply ingrained in their very being. Those who survived told their families about it. They do NOT trust anything coming out of Moscow because of what happened last time. So, due to Russian politics, I have been unfriended on Facebook. I will be praying for this individual who is feeling hurt because she is probably misunderstood and feeling ostracized by other westerns where she is living in Turkey. (I’d hate to be living in Turkey next year, because of what the young Turks did to the Armenians in 1915, but that is another tragedy.)

Here is what my friend wrote to me: Sorry, I am writing you a personal message – not on your wall, just to let you know that I am unfriending you and blocking on top of it. I don’t really believe you know what God is – this is your personal opinion. Instead of living and being friends you are spreading messages of hate. You and people like you splitting others. All the best.”

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Gun Control Gone Hay Wire Around the World

Make sure you REALLY look at the photo below.  Based on the interviews I have done about the Soviet Union with older Ukrainians and the stories I have received from my students in Kazakhstan, the following rings true.  If there is “gun control” put in place in the U.S., the crazies and evil people will still find guns to use against innocent people. With no guns, they will not be able to defend themselves.  Interesting facts to consider:

In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. >From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated

In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.
China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.
Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million.
You won’t see this data on the US evening news, or hear politicians disseminating this information.
Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws adversely affect only the law-abiding citizens.
Take note my fellow Americans, before it’s too late!
The next time someone talks in favor of gun control, please remind them of this history lesson.
With guns, we are ‘citizens’. Without them, we are ‘subjects’.
During WWII the Japanese decided not to invade America because they knew most Americans were ARMED!
If you value your freedom, please spread this antigun-control message to all of your friends.
SWITZERLAND ISSUES EVERY HOUSEHOLD A GUN!
SWITZERLAND’S GOVERNMENT TRAINS EVERY ADULT THEY ISSUE A RIFLE.
SWITZERLAND HAS THE LOWEST GUN RELATED CRIME RATE OF ANY CIVILIZED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!!!
IT’S A NO BRAINER!
DON’T LET OUR GOVERNMENT WASTE MILLIONS OF OUR TAX DOLLARS IN AN EFFORT TO MAKE ALL LAW ABIDING CITIZENS AN EASY TARGET.
Spread the word everywhere you can that you are a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment!It’s time to speak loud before they try to silence and disarm us.
You’re not imagining it, history shows that governments always manipulate tragedies to attempt to disarm the people~
Photo: A LITTLE GUN HISTORY<br /><br /> In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. >From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated<br /><br /> In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.<br /><br /> Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.<br /><br /> China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated<br /><br /> Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.<br /><br /> Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.<br /><br /> Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.<br /><br /> Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million.<br /><br /> You won't see this data on the US evening news, or hear politicians disseminating this information.<br /><br /> Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws adversely affect only the law-abiding citizens.<br /><br /> Take note my fellow Americans, before it's too late!<br /><br /> The next time someone talks in favor of gun control, please remind them of this history lesson.<br /><br /> With guns, we are 'citizens'. Without them, we are 'subjects'.<br /><br /> During WWII the Japanese decided not to invade America because they knew most Americans were ARMED!<br /><br /> If you value your freedom, please spread this antigun-control message to all of your friends.<br /><br /> SWITZERLAND ISSUES EVERY HOUSEHOLD A GUN!<br /><br /> SWITZERLAND'S GOVERNMENT TRAINS EVERY ADULT THEY ISSUE A RIFLE.<br /><br /> SWITZERLAND HAS THE LOWEST GUN RELATED CRIME RATE OF ANY CIVILIZED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!!!<br /><br /> IT'S A NO BRAINER!<br /><br /> DON'T LET OUR GOVERNMENT WASTE MILLIONS OF OUR TAX DOLLARS IN AN EFFORT TO MAKE ALL LAW ABIDING CITIZENS AN EASY TARGET.<br /><br /> Spread the word everywhere you can that you are a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment!</p><br /> <p>It's time to speak loud before they try to silence and disarm us.<br /><br /> You're not imagining it, history shows that governments always manipulate tragedies to attempt to disarm the people~

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Visit to Almaty’s trafficking shelter

The following was written by a British person who has been actively involved in helping the trafficking shelters in Kazakhstan. He supplies different shelters with donated clothes, kitchen utensils and other things necessary for living in transition.  He has gained the trust of those in charge of places where trafficked victims either stay for a short duration or spend time getting rehabilitated.  For a peek in, this provides a good window into what is really going on:

“I was invited to visit the shelter in Almaty in the course of a recent visit to the city in the company of Aliya who is the national trafficking officer for the International Organisation for Migration  It is currently the only IOM shelter in the south of Kz though there are plans in motion to open another shelter closer to Taras, but as yet with no fixed calendar for its realization (victims rescued in the area are helped through cooperation with other NGOs on an ad hoc basis)

The shelter in Almaty is a small flat and Nurgul, the director, claims it is the smallest in Kazakhstan. But after I recently visited a new one in northern KZ, there is one that is actually smaller which seemed to disappoint Nurgul!  It is however quite airy and the little space available is used very efficiently – it has to be! There were only two residents when I visited though the number varies greatly (as in all the shelters) due to it also serving as a transit shelter for those rescued from other countries (e.g. Turkey).  I was told that over the last year the shelter has had as many victims as in Astana though they tend to stay for a shorter period.

The staff consists of two shifts of two people with another person who can be called on in case of holiday and/or illness; they are VERY strict about NO contact when off duty in order to avoid ‘burnout’!  Nurgul is both the Director and psychologist and the other staff are social workers. All staff are female as it is a center for women only (Astana usually has only women, but does accommodate men as well, e.g. some of the group of 11 Uzbeks from last year stayed there) Over the years Nurgul has built up good relations with the local police though police involvement in (particularly) sex trafficking is well known (a previous resident recognized one officer from a photo of a seminar group to increase awareness of the issue!)

There is a very much more open approach evident with an emphasis on rehabilitation & reintegration through engagement with the outside world. Keep in mind that the northern shelters are both located some way outside the city centre so travel to/from the centre is rather less straightforward. They take a LOT of photos which are displayed on the walls and kept on their computers and are evidence of their willingness to go out with/take out the young women in their care. They visit exhibitions as well as go to shopping centres and other amusement areas such as zoos, leisure parks, etc.

The victims in the shelter are also encouraged to undertake some form of vocational training to improve their employment opportunities (much needed in view of their generally low education level) as well as craft activities to identify any latent talents they may have. Detailed records are kept of anything they have done including a ‘mood diary’ where a resident uses different colours to indicate their mood on a given day; I was shown one where the only ‘bad’ day was when the young woman had contact with her mother!

One rather heart-warming example was that of a young woman who was a given a job through a friend of Nurgul’s who had her own business; the young woman is now a department head!  There are sadly rather more cases of people ‘slipping through the net’ after leaving the shelter and returning to their life as a trafficking victim (either through economic necessity or through a form of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’)

But, to finish on a more optimistic note one of the residents was a young woman who was rescued from potential labour trafficking through the prompt and effective action of a police officer after being alerted by the victim’s mother in Uzbekistan.  A further contrast with Astana is that Nurgul felt that labour trafficking had become more significant through her observation over the last few years.

My overall impression was very favourable; I was impressed by the sincerity and commitment shown by Nurgul and her staff and the organization of the shelter.  Of course, it does not all go smoothly when the residents are young women who want to go out and have fun, which has led to problems with late night ‘visitors.’ But in general, there seems to be a very good atmosphere in the shelter.  I certainly appreciated the opportunity to visit the shelter and see for myself how things operated and Nurgul was pleased to pass on her thanks to all those who had contributed clothes/bedding to the shelter.

Thanks are also due to Aliya for arranging everything and acting as interpreter the work, however, is never ending unfortunately so contributions are constantly needed therefore clothes and/or household items can always be donated through me.”

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Highlights from Kazakh Readers Comments (Part II)

These are comments over the past year that I cherish because they are written out by Kazakhs who read this blog.  I originally thought that it would be for westerners to gain insights into this difficult culture.  Apparently I have erudite, Kazakh readers who are very competent in English. How I wish there were more true, historical stories written for more westerners to know and understand Central Asia.

‘They DO have stories, just not in the written form!!!’

Wrong. A nasty stereotype that even many a Kazakh were led to believe… The problem is, and I mean a major problem, that the modern-day historians are either half-professional or not interested in researching the real history that IS available for those willing to dig deep enough.”

Another Kazakh woman who lives in Arizona wrote the following and I blogged about it earlier.  I value what she wrote and wish more Kazakhs who live in the U.S. Canada or U.K. would write more about their beloved country so we, as westerners, can understand what happened in the past.

“I’m pleased to find at least 1 article in whole web net from Kazakh person about Kazakh art and history through Kazakh rugs. I can’t believe how much Soviet law and specially dominating Russians forced Kazakhs to forget their own history, lifestyle, art. Yes, Soviet law& KGB prohibited any kind of private business in USSR. Kazakhstan was tiered apart between Russia and China. East Turkestan became colony of China and now has new colonial Han’ name SinZsyan. Best Antique Kazakh rugs were stolen by communists in USSR and China. Kazakhs couldn’t make money by weaving rugs anymore. Since all Turkic countries became a colonies of USSR or CPR(Chinese People Republic), and no westerns were allowed at our Silk Road markets; Turkey became a major market of all Turkic rugs, Kazaks, Yughurs, Uzbeks, Altaics, Turkmen, Azeri, Kirgiz, Gagauzs, and etc. Kazakhs were still weaving some of kilims, but no rugs anymore. Pakistan became major producer of Kazakh design rugs now. My grandfather weaved flat rug; Klem or Kilim. After taking part of World War 2 he tried to feed his big family in Kazakh village on Russian territory near Zhyaik (Ural) river. He had ships, horses, goats. He was hunting and selling fur skin. KGB put him to jail in 1982 where he starngely died in 2 days. He was 50 y.o., his youngest kid was 14 y.o. his widow had no job, raising 2 kids and still doesn’t speak Russian. We still keep kilim by my grandfather. We used it once: on his funeral.

Correction to my previous post: at the time my grandfather died, my grandmother was raising 4 underage kids and had 3 more students. She never worked, she was helping my granddad to wash shipskin, fox, rabbit furskin, weaving wool for kilims, sawing, knitting, making felted wool for “valenki”. In one word she made Kazakh hand crafts and tried to sell it sometimes. She stayed true Kazakh, spoke Kazakh, prayed to Allah, had big Koran at home, even though it was strictly prohibited by Russian Federation law. Unfortunately new generations, her kids never were encouraged to learn her skills, since they wouldn’t be able to live on this. I do remember a little, but can’t do even 100th part of what my grandparents did.”

Various and Sundry Comments

The other day I was volunteering with players from a major league football team at a construction site of an affordable housing project. Apparently they were sent by the club owners or something to do this ‘humane work’ as they didn’t show any desire to do real work. Those young footballers were as strong as one can be but they were unwilling to do any heavy physical labour. The site manager had a hard time convincing them to do roofing and framing instead of painting, which was assigned to volunteer ladies. The IQ of the players seemed to be, well, below average. I was also reading that the untreated brain injuries are pretty common as the team owners don’t like the players to be on hospital beds but out in the field playing and earning them $$$.

Bottomline: I will think twice before sending my sons to play (American) football.

Final comment from a Kazakh reader makes me wonder what books he has been reading.  There certainly are a lot of anti-American type books written by non-patriotic Americans themselves.  But then that is what “freedom of expression” was so hard fought for by our early founders of this nation of the U.S.:

“With all due respect, I only disagree with your statement “all the challenges that the U.S. has overcome to be where it is today”. I wouldn’t like at all for Kazakhstan to be where the U.S. is today. The economy is very close to total collapse. Moral degradation. Crime rate has gone through the roof. Censorships of all media. Military aggression for natural resources and political dominance. And the list goes on and on.”

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What I Learn from my Kazakh Students (Part II)

Instead of writing about westerner’s post-modern thinking I’ll continue on the theme I started the other day about professions in Kazakhstan. Today we covered two more professions that were important to this student who came into my office to practice speaking his English.  He has a unique position here at the university and I really appreciated his insights from an “insider” Kazakh point of view.

First of all, he believes that the most popular profession in Kazakhstan is construction work. I think all residents in Astana and most in Almaty would have to agree, there continues to be buildings going up everywhere.  “Building Cranes” are the national bird in Kazakhstan but sadly the same cannot be said in the desperate villages.  Many of the workers come from Russia or rural Kazakhstan where the Turkish companies employ labor for  cheap.  The Turks are the ones who get the contracts to get things built and quickly.  In some cases, too quickly.

Apparently there are not enough engineers to help explain how some things should be built to fit the climate and land of Astana.  For instance, there are very few underground parking lots for cars simply because it is too expensive to create, the water table is too high in Astana.  Some of these companies might also build a wall in a building where the pipes are fitted but hidden behind those walls one cannot see that these pipes are not connected to anything, going nowhere.

Sewage issues abound if not done according to code.  Mistakes due to lack of expertise by the builders or lack of engineers continue to abound.  That is a reality here and sometimes buildings start cracking even before they are a year old.  I’ve been told earlier of one apartment complex across the river in the old part of Astana that is structurally unsound and has had to be abandoned.

The second occupation we talked on was about education.  What chances do people from the villages in Kazakhstan have if they are not given proper education to excel in something?  The vicious circle perpetuates itself because education in the village, which used to be highly prized during the Soviet Union, is no longer considered prestigious.  Teachers used to have incentives to stay in the villages to teach, they were given preferential treatment during the Soviet period, but now that is no longer true.  It’s very difficult for a Kazakh pedagogically trained teacher to return to the rural areas.  Especially true if they have been trained with the latest of technology.  But if there is no Internet and no connection to the outside world exists in the villages, there is a MAJOR disconnect.  Times have changed from the former Soviet days.

This person who came to my English lesson today didn’t realize that I was the one doing the learning. I learned what he knows is a sad reality where his middle-aged parents live in Kazakhstan.  His mother is a doctor for village clinics in her area, his father is an electrician.  Their neighbors and most of the village are pensioners and eke out a living in what they term “Natural life.”  They may breed cattle, sheep and horses to sell as livestock and have some gardens to tend.  But their lives are like ancient times with no running water and a few have a pump to get their water into their homes.

As a teacher of English, this is where it got very interesting to me when my student told me his grandmother used to know Kazakh in the Latin alphabet.  He told me that it is very difficult on his current keyboard on the computer to switch over to the Cyrillic and then to add 10 more letters from the numbers in the top row with the letters that are needed in Kazakh.  All this done with the shift key for upper case.

Put another way, the English language has 26 letters, the Russian Cyrillic has about 33 letters and the Kazakh has 42 letters.  He showed me on a keyboard I have with both Latin letters and Russian letters how he and others have to hunt and peck and shift with caps on and off in order to write a document in Kazakh. It’s very cumbersome.

He claimed that Turkey and Turkmenistan use the Latin letters, then why can’t the Kazakh teachers who are currently teaching Kazakh do the same?  They are forced to switch back and forth with shift keys to write with 42 letters making the learning of writing in the Kazakh language tedious or clearly very tiresome.  No wonder the Kazakh teachers don’t use modern technology when they teach in their Kazakh lessons, it is too difficult.

Why, oh why, when the Kazakh administrators in the Ministry of Education put the three languages (Russian, Kazakh and English) as mandatory languages for Kazakhstan into law several years ago that it would change back to Latin letters?  Apparently some “scientists” said it would be too difficult.

However, what you have now is a HUGE separation between learning of English with technology and learning through the Internet the language of Kazakh. It’s NOT happening.  Further compounding the problem of students learning how to write well in Kazakh.  It is just easier to speak and listen as it is an oral culture.

I was surprised to learn that there are so many synonyms for the same words in Kazakh. Being a very old but rich language they borrow words from the Arab language, from Russian and Turkish.  I asked if there were any Chinese words in the mix, he said “no.” There was much more that my student taught me today about his own culture all the while he was speaking in English without too many mistakes.  He just needs confidence by more practice because he does have the ability and the vocabulary.

Tomorrow we will hopefully listen to an American teacher who has lived in Kazakhstan for about a decade and has mastered speaking the Kazakh language.  Tonight I’ll meet with someone else who has lived here in Kazakhstan for 20 years and knows Kazakh. It is not impossible to learn, even the five words that I know and use liberally pleases or impresses my different taxi drivers and occasional Kazakh person I meet.

(to be continued)

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Waxing Philosophical about the Asian Winter Games Opening Ceremony

When my husband and I first moved to Astana a year ago, we were watching the Winter Olympics broadcasting out of Vancouver, Canada on our t.v. in all its richness, color and Russian commentary.  This year we were in our living room with friends, our tv long since banished to a corner in our bedroom and our cable connection cut off.  Who needs tv when you have Internet?  Well after discussing with many people yesterday about the Opening Ceremony, I wish I had our t.v.  back up and working.  I guess I missed something REALLY spectacular by all accounts from my Facebook friends, my students and people who actually attended this grand event.  However, as much as the Asian Games organizers put into the well choreographed production, the logistics of security and transportation left much to be desired.

From what I gathered the president of Kazakhstan was in attendance, the first and foremost VIP plus the new president of Kyrgyzstan along with a sheik from Emirat and of course the President of the Asian Games along with China and Korean representatives from their respective countries.  The arena holds 30,000 people and there were 6,000 participants.  Apparently a famous Russian composer, Igor Krutoy used poems by Fabian and other old stories from Kazakhstan’s history to weave together a fantastic program.  A singer from Korea, a Kazakh opera singer who studied in Italy and many other musicians and dancers were part of the glamorous performance.

Different numbers of how many countries who are actually represented at these winter games range from 15 to 27 countries.  Some come from the most unlikely places where they have never seen ice or snow like India, Pakistan and Iran from what I was told by my “informants.”  Whenever anything related to Kazakhstan was announced the crowd chanted “Go Forward Kazakhstan” in either Russian or Kazakh.  Since I wasn’t there I don’t know for sure which language, but I can be certain that it was not in English.  My students told me that there was an Olympic like flame that went through many cities throughout Kazakhstan. Even a Kazakh athlete in a wheelchair had carried the burning torch through Timertau. I guess that is a fairly obscure city in Kazakhstan where one of my PDP students is from.

The Opening Ceremony production, which ironically was produced by this Russian composer, looked back to the history of the Kazakh nomads up to present day. It showed about Oguz from the ancient Turkish tribes and many other famous Kazakh warriors and leaders. The show began at 6:45 and officially ended at 10:30 p.m.  After that was the grand fireworks display witnessed throughout the city of Astana, it beamed brightly into everyone’s living room as well.

Meanwhile those attendees who had seen such a fantastic display of Kazakh patriotism and pride inside the arena had a difficult time getting home in the frosty, cold air and winds of Astana.  If it were me, I would have just walked home since I only live about two miles from where this extravaganza took place.  Apparently the busses were so packed with people leaving (remember there were over 30,000 people in the stadium) now they were all ready to go home to get ready for their work week.  Many people waited over an hour to get on the busses.  Several smart Kazakhs had either left early or went out another entrance.  One of my PDP students remembered that she and her husband had gone to the 10 year birthday of Astana and there had been such chaos getting home that they were convinced to give this event a pass and watch it on t.v.

Functionality and logistics had gone out the window when it came to letting people into the stadium as well.  According to my students security was so tight that they checked through everyone’s bags to make sure no alcohol was allowed in.  If anyone was caught with alcohol on their person or on their breath, they were summarily thrown out of the arena.  Yes, security was tight, so much so that one of the bridges was closed crossing from the old part of the city going into the new part.  That made it difficult for my dinner guests to arrive on time because traffic was all snarled up as a result.  They finally showed an hour late but I thought this did not bode well for the Asian Games organization to have people arriving late to the ceremony.

From other accounts, people were held back from their seats and there was the frightening experience for some of witnessing a near stampede mentality just to get in.  One American woman was elbowed in her face and she is still hurting.  What a miserable way to “enjoy” the ceremony when there is little decorum in the hallways just outside the event.

Last night I was talking, over leftovers at my flat, to one volunteer who got to the stadium early and another VIP friend who was whisked through to their seats, they did not encounter any of these problems.  The former has a badge to get into ALL events.  She is all suited up in red, whereas there are other volunteers in blue and white uniforms.  The expense of the “volunteers” uniforms must have been immense for both cities where there were supposedly 3,000 volunteers in Almaty and 1,500 in Astana.  One Kazakh woman in my noon English class said that the athletes uniforms cost 380,000 tenge (about $2,500) each.  That must be for the hockey players, I can’t imagine that all the Kazakh athletes would have a kit that expensive.

Here is where I get philosophical.  My VIP friend said that she was recognized by security guards because she has a high profile here in Astana, she encountered no pushing or shoving.  That would be true of all the other dignitaries as well.  However, what about my American friends who were part of the near stampede or those other American friends who were wanting to get on every packed bus for one hour before they got on one to take them home?  There are the elites and then there are the common people in this fine country of Kazakhstan.  In every country you have your garden variety types who become hurt or desperate or cold because the logic of something so massive has not been thought through in every detail.

Tomorrow I will pick up on that theme.  But from where I work, you can see that the “presentation” is more important than the actual execution or implementation of the theme.  Not to say that the Opening Ceremony performance inside the arena was not perfectly done, I’m sure it was.  I am just saying that there are so many other details outside of that, that can and should not be ignored.  People of Kazakhstan, outside of Astana and Almaty are hurting, cold and desperate.  Patriotism with all the glitz can only last so long before hopelessness and despair enter…

(to be continued)

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Charity Bazaar photos

More photos today because a week ago Sunday we were excited about how well our book table did at the annual Charity Bazaar.  First time to launch this at the Astana bazaar that only started three years ago.  Keep in mind that the new part of the city of Astana, Kazakhstan is only ten years old. Obviously people wanted books and other reading material, so hopefully we will get more donations throughout the year for next year!  (hint, hint) However, maybe books will become a thing of the past with Kindle readers. Something like letters and cards are becoming more precious because people don’t post them as much as they do the social networking scene on the Internet.  I think, though, the permanence of books will last a while longer.  We shall see 20 years from now what becomes of the book if all goes electronic.  If the electricity should ever go out, we would have the stand by book to read by the light of a fire or the sunlight perhaps.  More photos because I want to remember the social networking I did in person with people while raising money for children in orphanages whom I’ll probably never see.

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