Posts tagged United Nations

Positives and Negatives in Kazakhstan

Asian Winter Games are over and it is as if there is a big sigh of relief or even a melancholy letdown despite the fact that Kazakhstan came out ahead in number of 70 medals won.  What will the Kazakhs do now without an adrenaline rush to push them to the next level?  Altogether the hosting country of Kazakhstan was awarded 32 gold, 21 silver and 17 bronze.  Apparently Japan and Korea tied for number of gold medals with 12 each but Japan came out ahead with more silver to come in second after Kazakhstan.  Then after Korea was China and finally Mongolia.  That was a surprise because apparently Kazakhstan beat Mongolia in hockey with a score of 30-0.

I guess that is why I enjoy figure skating and not watching a lop-sided team sporting event like hockey where the score was so poor.  Last Friday night I did not stay long enough to watch the free skater Dennis Ten (Kazakhstani who is Korean background) win in his division over Abzal, the one I had witnessed in all his glory.  Where Abzal fell, apparently Dennis did not. I don’t have their final scores.

How fun it was to go out on the river in the old part of Astana again on Sunday morning and I did not fall once again but this time I had better figure skates on.  Also, the weather was not as cold as it had been the Sunday before.  I’ll show photos tomorrow of our skating and also of the great skating we saw in the new ice arena that doubles for a biking race track.

My detractor on my blog by the name of “Anti” but her real name is Aliya asked that I broadcast the positive to my Kazakh students, only the positive.  Aliya sent me a link that my economist husband looked over, here’s what he wrote:

It would be interesting to know who this person with “” address  monitoring your blog is? She seems to want you to write a certain way.

Basically, I think she is saying that the UN and CIA data show that the oil wealth of KZ has been more equally divided than in other countries.  It’s complex to evaluate, and I’d like to print it to see it all at once.  I notice that the last date [for Kazakhstan] available is 2004.  International data is hard to evaluate.  But, it’s the kind of thinking I’ve always done.

Gap is related to poverty and KZ and world programs to help the poor when world food prices “spike” as they did in 2007-2008.

Forecasts show that KZ and its wheat exports will be on front burner.  Kansas and rest of winter wheat belt have been hit by large amount of “winter kill” because of cold temperatures and low snow cover (blanket).  Australia has too much rain, spoiling crop.  World Stocks are down.  Prices will rise in KZ again.”

I just LOVE my economist husband for making sense of some very complex charts (see link above). Could it be that my Kazakh “friend” Aliya is missing her home country of Kazakhstan? Sadly, while she may be studying in the U.S. she realizes that almost no American that she is associated with, and I do mean “no one” really knows about what positive event just happened here in Kazakhstan with the Asian Winter games.  All the media attention has been focused either on the debacle still unraveling in Egypt or your garden variety sports fans were just finishing watching the Super Bowl, not the Asian Winter Games.

Really, if there were no CNN or BBC media trucks here to take in this event to broadcast to the rest of the world like they would for the Olympics, then it means that this was just an internal Asian event.  Perhaps China could have walked all over this sporting competition with their sheer size and mass of people but they supposedly sent in their second string athletes.  Or so I’m told.  I DO know that this has had a very positive effect on all Kazakhs I’ve been in contact with in Astana. I’m just wondering how it has been perceived by those in the farthest reaches of this great country?

Thinking about the Sino neighbor just on Kazakhstan eastern borders not walking away with more medals, reminds me of a line in the movie I just watched the other night “Pursuit of Happyness.”  Will Smith is advised by his boss who is going after a client in a golf game, “let them win.” I suppose after looking at these charts about income equality across the world put out by the United Nations and the Central Intelligence Agency that there might be some kernel of truth in it even though the data is old by our Information Age standards of the 21st century.  As you know, I’m very suspicious of Wikipedia and there have been many things that have changed throughout the world in the last year or two, economically and politically.

Maybe “Anti” wants to have everyone talk about positive things concerning Kazakhstan because she is feeling vulnerable as a Kazakh in a big country like the U.S.  However, if we as educators don’t address the problems about the human trafficking or that the rural areas are NOT getting the industry to work, the unemployment  will continue to be very high in the Kazakh villages.  I think we need to support the Peace Corps volunteers who are out helping in the very out of the way places, some are commited to two years of deprivation.  Once Peace Corps volunteers work themselves out of their jobs or once Kazakh citizens don’t need to go overseas for their higher education, then we can talk about how income equality is distributed in different countries.

What I know just looking at the U.S. is that North Dakota, the neighbor state to Minnesota is doing VERY well financially while other areas of the country that were the “in” place to be like Florida, California and Arizona are hurting economically.  Hey, I am no economist, I leave that to my husband.  But if Kazakhstan can get back on their feet again as an independent nation that helps their OWN people to pick themselves up and to help their neighbors like Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, then I think we have a developed nation with maturity.

Let’s have easy to read graphs and charts about philanthropy instead, one of my husband’s favorite topics.  When Kazakhstan becomes a giving nation to those from the outside as well as helping their own, then we have a VERY positive thing happening.  But it takes a change in society from the old Soviet way of doing things and thinking creatively on how to solve age old problems to a newer way that is about loving your neighbor.  Thanks Aliya for your contribution to my blog.


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Blog Tired and Wish Bone Tired

Were you surprised by the link at the end of yesterday’s blog? I think I have created a monster with asking my students to write blogs, that means I, as their diligent teacher, must read what they write.  They only have to read mine but I WANT to read their 10, each day. That is, if they write that often, most do not.  I’m not tired of blogs….ooooohhhh nnoooooo!  When I stop writing every day, then you will know I’m fed up with keeping this daily diary online for others to read.  Today was about as action packed as yesterday, I’m bone tired.

I went to hear a speaker at the international women’s club, she is connected to the United Nations and has special projects throughout the country of Kazakhstan.  It was helpful to hear all the programs that are meant to help the Kazakhs.  Then I got more books for the upcoming book fair and got a ride back to campus with a woman from Georgia. (the country and not the state). Then, I showed her around after she helped me to bring books to store in my office.

On the ride out to campus she told me an amazing thing. Her husband’s grandmother had been at ALZHIR for 8 years.  She was arrested in Georgia and brought up to Kazakhstan to work in this concentration camp that is about 10 miles away from Astana.  What is incredible is that she was in the middle of teaching her class when they came in to arrest her in front of her students and all.  She had four children and the youngest baby died in her absence.  Tamara’s husband was the youngest of the four then and they were brought up by relatives.  Ironic that they have a posting here in Kazakhstan where his grandmother had broken health and yet she did survive and was rehabilitated.  She had come from a wealthy family and her husband had been beaten and murdered for being a so-called “Enemy of the People.”  This was back in 1937 when purges were routine and Stalin seemed to pick on his own country of Georgia a little more rigorously.

Then I taught a one hour lesson to the employees and we talked about different professions. After that I was ready to do “battle” with the security guards anticipating a hold up with my six students from the outside and our guests from the U.S. embassy.  That went without a hitch and my students enjoyed finding out more about the different exchange programs and other English programs throughout Kazakhstan.  Great opportunities.

Finally, someone called about bringing more books to me for the charity bazaar sale.  I’m sure I’ll be getting more but today was the deadline because next week will begin the lock down of transportation of the big summit meeting where Kazakhstan will be hosting 55 different countries.  Oh, what will we do?

I’m hearing different stories that in order to cover for the Dec. 1 and 2 summit meeting when things will be closed down, we will get the days off.  However, I’m told also that we have to make it up this Sat. and Sun.  That means we would not have American corner movie because the Sat. would be a Wed. and I wouldn’t show the last movie on campus on Sunday because that would be the Thursday.

I don’t think it will happen that way because I’m also told that “the show must go on…” that we will be the only university functioning.  The rest of the universities throughout the city of Astana will close and students will go home for a week.  Okay, which is it?  In any case, I need a rest from this very busy but productive semester.  I’m bone tired but looking forward to tomorrow when we will celebrate Thanksgiving day at two different places for me.  I should enjoy turkey at both places but right now I’m wish-bone tired.

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“Bearly” Recognizable Buddy Bears Promote Peace

These colorful bears that are congregated close to Astana’s Baiterek are “bearly” recognizable as to their origin of country.  The name plates below help reveal the artist and country with their respective flag. Other bears are easy to figure out, together they make for a brilliant display of diversity in unity with the United Nations thrust of countries working together.  Art is able to pull this off where politics normally collide. Maybe when we see the contrasts and differences in art, we can come to an understanding of our cultural differences.  Perhaps that is the main idea behind this exhibit.  The quote made by the great German born scientist Einstein that I spotted at the Buddy Bear exhibit said the following: “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”

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“Beary” United Buddy Bears Exhibition in Astana

Belonging to Astana’s International Women’s Club has its perks.  I received the following update on the Bear exhibition that I wrote about in my blog yesterday. This colorful display opens tomorrow to the public, but I was privy to it several days ahead of time because it is right in my own backyard from where I work.  I think I got some great photos yesterday of countries you will recognize.  If you live or are visiting in Astana, you must see them for yourself.

The “Buddy Bears” stand together hand in hand and promote tolerance and understanding among different nations, cultures and religions. Each bear represents a Member State of the United Nations and has been individually designed by an artist from that state. The „Kazakh bear“ has been designed by the prominent Kazakh artist Leyla Mahat, the „German bear“ by Frank Rödel.

Since 2002, when the first exhibition of the „Buddy Bears“ took place, more than 20 million people from all over the world had a chance to see them. The bears have travelled to all of the five continents. Thus, they have already been in Berlin, Istanbul, Tokyo, Sydney, Cairo and Buenos Aires. Wherever they were, the “Buddy Bears” became a special attraction and made the exhibition venue a place of interaction and meetings. Today, within the framework of the year “Germany in Kazakhstan 2010” 125 “Buddy Bears” will come to Astana, among them, of course, the bears designed by Leyla Mahat and by Frank Rödel. On invitation of the Akimat of the city of Astana, the “Buddy Bears” will remain until the end of July 2010 next to the Baiterek-tower. Visitors will have the chance to experience, how the interaction of different artistic styles creates one piece of art that spreads joy and promotes mutual understanding and tolerance. Each visitor of the exhibition will experience a small trip around the world, as each bear is individually designed in a manner related to his “home-country”. The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Akimat of the city of Astana have the pleasure to invite you, the interested public and representatives of the media to join the opening event of the exhibition “United Buddy Bears” on Saturday, 15th of May 2010 at 16:00. The event will take place between the Baiterek-tower and the National Archives, on “Nurshol”-Boulevard (former Vodnoseljonyj bulvar”).

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