Posts tagged U.K.

More skating in Astana, Kazakhstan

four countriesI suppose many people are watching the Winter Olympics in Korea, some amazing talent there!  Not sure who took this photo of four nations represented but we were skating on a frozen solid river in Astana, Kazakhstan.  On the left is a former Kazakh student, then Wilma from Netherlands, a guy from U.K. who liked to travel everywhere and me.  Seven years ago I was teaching and living in Astana, the coldest capital in the world, second to Ulan Baatar in Mongolia.  Yes, when the winds swept through the northern plains to Kazakhstan you wondered what the weather was like north of us, in Russia.

Didn’t matter the temp or the wind chill, an expat friend of mine from U.K. would cross country ski every day along the river in Astana.  I thought she might have been crazy or part Norwegian but this was her usual thing to do while her husband had some kind of government job.  Wonderful couple, I wonder where they are or if Wilma is back in Holland.  I keep up with most of my former students from NAU through FB.

I’m amazed that I had so many visitors to this blog yesterday, must have been something I wrote or the pictures I put up.  I used to have over a 100 a day when I was actually living in Kazakhstan and talking about the culture and people.  Now I just put up occasional pictures of my life back in Minnesota.  The following is something I see a LOT of on our northern plains.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Life may be cold here, as it is in Astana, but the hearts are warm and we have memories to go on.  I doubt that I’ll ever get back to Central Asia after having lived in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for 1 1/2 years and Almaty and Astana, Kazakhstan for 2 1/2 years, over four years.

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Say “expatriot” and NOT “expat!!!” (sigh)

The other day I was reprimanded by a Russian speaking colleague about using the word “expat” incorrectly.  (*I* am an EXPAT!!!)  According to her, I should say “expatriot” instead.  I told her that I prefer saying something that I have been for almost 15 years in two syllables rather than in four.  I thanked her for helping me out in my native language of English. However, try to tell someone they should say “television” rather than t.v. or better to say “electronic mail” instead of “e-mail.” To me, to say the full extension of a commonly used term is absurd.  I have had many expat friends among American, British, Australian, Canadian and New Zealanders when I lived in Philippines, China, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and finally our most recent stint in Kazakhstan. ExPAT, EXpat, expat!!!  Check out dictionary.com definition of the word, it is an informal term that was started by the British but Americans have managed to make it even more slangy by using the short “a” instead of the long “a.”

 

The reason I was corrected was due to a meeting we had at the Language Center last week where I got up in front of about 50-60 of my teacher colleagues and gave three suggestions that I found useful in my teaching.  The first was how to conserve on the usage of paper.  I asked for a show of hands, “How many of you e-mail your students about their assignments?”  Five or six timidly raised their hands which means only 10% do, the others are traditionalists and just count on meeting up with their students during the scheduled class or during office hours. 

 

My second suggestion was to tell them that I was purposely raising the standards of my MBA students by having my “expat friends” come to the classroom to listen to their 7 minute speeches.  I also remarked that this is good P.R. to have the expat community aware of who our soon-to-be graduates are.  Some of these expat visitors might be future employers for our graduate students.  My third point was to have guest lecturers come to the Listening classes for the students to listen to live people rather than just taped conversations all the time.  Last semester, my students’ feedback indicated they LOVED having expat guest lecturers come to visit so they could interact with them.  I could see some teachers nodding their heads in agreement.  Again, a way of building up the reputation of our university which at this point we need some good P.R.  Er, Public Relations to be clearly understood.

 

Apparently my Russian speaking colleague was just giving me “constructive” feedback that the other Kazakh teachers thought they heard me say I was bringing my “expert friends” to my speech classes.  They misheard me talking about my having an “expert community.”  Hmmm…I already know many of these teachers don’t like to write (or read), now I’m wondering about their listening comprehension skills in English.  Perhaps they need to be working on the same material they dole out to their students in the overly redundant listening and notetaking classes. In some cases, I’m wondering how their speaking is during the classes, I think there may be more Russian spoken than is healthy for a “westernized” university. I also think my teaching colleagues are way too isolated in their own clique to realize that their English may not be as good as their students.  In any case, to my ears, “expat” sounds very different from expert.  But then again, my American friends ARE experts in their particular fields of expertise.

 

So, yesterday I blogged about an expat friend of mine Brenda.  Also, I subbed yesterday afternoon for another expat friend Nancy who went on a recruiting trip to western Kazakhstan.  Then last night I had another expat friend Julia visit my speech classes again and she brought her husband Dan this time.  I wonder what these Americans would say to someone who might try to correct them that they should call themselves “expatriots?” 

 

Sigh, sometimes the snarky comments among my peers wear me down, but my lovely students build me up.  THEY are the reason I am here in Kazakhstan.

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