Posts tagged Web Survey Master

Expats’ Impressions of Kazakhstan – the Good and the Bad

Recently I did an online survey using Web Survey Master and 27 of my expat friends responded. I must have sent out to 50 people so I got over a 50% return rate.   12% have lived in KZ for less than half a year, 23% for one year, 23% for 2-3 years, 8% for 4-5 years, 12% for over 5 years and 8% over 10 years and another 14% had various answers. These were comments at the end of survey most of the 27 were American friends of mine but also some from Canada, U.K., Australia, Netherlands and other places.  See what they wrote in answer to my asking for additional advice or feedback:

1) In general the Kazakh people are great. I really find it bothersome that some Kazakh ethnics and non-Kazakh ethnics do not always get along only because of their heritage. I believe much could be done to improve the relations between these two groups. I would also like to say that once a foreigner develops a friendship with someone from Kazakhstan, it is a great thing. Kazakhs can be very welcoming and hospitable, BUT I think the Soviet attitude of not trusting people and being too skeptical of someone’s motives gets in the way too often.

2) Kazakhstan has wonderful people and a great deal of potential. Still the process of establishing a nation is a great task. Most Kazakhstanis are unaware of all the challenges that the U.S. has overcome to be where it is today. It did not happen in fifty, one hundred, or even one hundred-fifty years.

3) The orientation of the questionnaire suggests a sensitivity or underlying inferiority complex regarding this country. But only in a small way.

4) A question such as the following would be good: How have you benefited from living in Kazakhstan?

5) I think Kazakh people are very resilient and will survive whatever life throws them. I don’t think they are easily offended, but they have been mistreated by others in their past.

Of the questions I asked my expat friends, this was Question #6. Kazakhstan can be a challenging place to live, even for the locals, what bothers you as a foreigner the most? Several expats commented on RUDENESS where we are used to “service with a smile” in the western world.  I’m used to poor service in communist or former communist countries so my answer would instead be different but it still amounts to what I perceive as rudeness.  If I had I taken my own survey my pet peeve would be Kazakh drivers using their cars to drive TOO close to pedestrians.  We Americans like our personal space a bit bigger.

“Customer service could improve in some businesses, Rude salespeople, Poor service ethics and rudeness of shop assistants, the “rudeness” of the men…..spitting and general unattentiveness to “polite manners”

Some others wrote: “General difficulty of living conditions” “I actually worry more about the disparity of income within Astana itself. You see some very rich people here, but there are many more who are not so lucky.

Other comments: Nothing to do for English speakers (e.g. movies)




unfulfilled promises and focus on presentation without substance to back it up

Lack of care for poor and homeless Justice/human rights/corruption: it is indeed very important to have ratified conventions and written laws, however, it takes much more time to implement them.

Lack of interest in offering excellent medical care

To be continued tomorrow with more answers to the questions posed to expats about living in Kazakhstan.

waiting in lines

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Astana All A-Buzz After the Summit

One of my regular taxi drivers this morning was in earnest to talk to me about the GREAT summit which finished yesterday in Astana. Over fifty-five countries were represented with some of their top leaders.   EVERYONE in Astana is still talking about it and even with my limited Russian listening comprehension and the driver’s German-Russian-English-Kazakh combinations of speech, Yaheya got some of his points across.  As we drove the short distance from my flat (worth 500 tenge to him) this morning to the university, we saw policemen in their blue camo uniforms still standing at every bus stop and police cars everywhere.  I can only imagine that it was even more heavily secure during the two days of the summit.  I wouldn’t know, I was cooped up for those days in my flat. Yaheya explained there were police who were brought in from neighboring cities. We were ALL made to feel secure, that’s for sure.  Those poor policemen standing outside for hours on end would have been cold too because it was a very harsh, strong wind from the west.  How did they cope those two LONG days during the summit?

How did the people who attended the LONG summit, cope? My loquacious driver wanted to talk about Hillary Clinton. Yes, I’m sure she made quite a hit and now she is in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Brave woman. The name Monica came up and so I knew where our conversation was heading. I insisted I didn’t understand what he was saying. I actually feel sorry for Hillary, she has had the equivalent of wikileaks 100 times over throughout her very public life, so she must have a very thick skin by now. Enough about Hillary, or is it?

Had fun in my Friday class of English for some of the university librarians who need to brush up on their speaking skills.  On one of the handouts I used today with a few of my remedial learners, the questions were such 1) what is your name? 2) How old are you? 3) Where do you live? 4) Do you have a car? 5) What languages do you speak? 6) Do you smoke? 7) What music do you like 8 ) What TV programmes do you like? 9) What food do you like? 10) What newspaper do you read? 11) What sports do you play?  With four women, some older and others younger, I was able to give them different identities based on the latest Summit.  The first was to answer all 11 questions as if she were Hillary, next we had Sarkozy represented, then Medvedev and finally Yanokovich from Ukraine.  We were laughing at the creativeness of the answers, thinking how absurd some of the questions were posed to these very important people.  When asked about which cars they drove, the one person answered, Zaparocha, Lada and Niva.  When asked about food, the person in French character said escargot and then the Russian word for frogs.  What we really laughed about was one of the characters when asked about what newspaper he read – “nothing.”  Oy, one of these politicians is known to my adult learner students as a non-reader.  Anathema to librarians!!!

If you really want to know more about why the banners, displays and billboards all over Astana, go to the following website. Alexandre Keltchewsky, the Ambassador of this organization in Kazakhstan came and talked to our international women’s group in October.  I have my notes about what he talked about somewhere, I may retrieve them and blog about it tomorrow. To sum up, this was the seventh such Summit in this organization’s history. Previous summits were held 1975 in Helsinki, 1990 in Paris, 1992 in Helsinki, 1994 in Budapest, 1996 in Lisbon and 1999 in Istanbul.

Then for my last class of the day today, I had my PDP students look at the results of my survey in ppt format on Web Survey Master.  I got 26 responses so far from my expat friends in Astana and Almaty about “expat’s impressions of Kazakhstan.” Some of the answers were hilarious, others candid and sincere.  One of my students said this wasn’t PDP class anymore but “laughing class.”  We had a good time talking about the results while I was trying to stress true and accurate statistics.  We ended on an even higher note with watching Sir Ken Robinson giving a talk on about “Education Kills Creativity.”  Quite a funny speech with very good examples.  We clapped at the end just like the audience did.  So ended our day, a post-summit kind of day with more excitement to come next week…stay tuned!!!

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Blog Tired and Dog Tired

Today was an eventful day for my students and for me. Earlier I had listened to an American teacher talk to the whole student body about ethics. Very good examples and food for thought.  A kind of challenge to think about what the Kazakh students are learning now, impacts what kind of engineer or doctor they will be in the future.  If they cheat on tests now, what will they be like once they are “professionals?”  Reminded me of the movie we watched several weeks ago “Emperor’s Club.”

I got my adult learning students started on Web Survey Master which has a LOT of GREAT features. Namely that you can ask your respondents more than 10 questions and then when you gather and analyze your data, you can have the choices of pie charts, column or bar graphs or doughnuts.  The best is that all this data can automatically go into a powerpoint. However, you have to manually extract the comments from each question but still, that is quite amazing. Of course this is all on a 30 day trial period.

When I was prepping my 10 students yesterday for our 2 1/2 hours in the computer lab today, poor things, these overworked and underpaid teachers were getting hungry. All this talk of doughnuts, bars and pie (Botakoz reminded me that she likes pumpkin pie) and column charts. Yes, these desperate teachers (not “desperate housewives”) had heard enough talk about food.  So, fortunately I had some extra pumpkin cookies that I had intended to give them once they settled down to writing out their questions for this new survey.  Who says bribes don’t happen from teacher to students?  Works for me.

Were my 10 students ever squirrelly yesterday, I couldn’t shut them up.  But today was the direct opposite, they had work to do and they knew it. But entering the university, they had trouble getting past security because I hadn’t done the proper paperwork.  How could I? The guards needed their names in Russian and I only know their names but NOT in Cyrillic. Today, the students had many assignments waiting for them on Moodle and once past security, they got down to business with creating a second survey.  One was on love, another music, but most stayed with their same research topic.  Some impressed me with embedding YouTube clips or photo images into their questionnaire.  What they won’t experiment with, it is really humbling.  I should be as adventurous as they are.  I guess I am staying one blog step ahead of them, one day at a time.

So, I almost didn’t write this blog tonight because I am sooooo dog tired.  But then I had to write what a commenter mentioned to me about where a lot of blog traffic is here in Kazakhstan.  Check out Your Vision in Kazakhstan. Which reminds me, I sent a survey to my expat friends in Almaty and Astana to find out their impressions about Kazakhstan.  I’ll share that info with you maybe tomorrow when I have more energy.

Tomorrow we will enjoy hearing from a guest lecturer representing the U.S. embassy. I certainly hope the guards let him in along with my six teachers. Never a dull moment with moodles, monkeys and a dog video (check this out, again hat tip to Botakoz). My students make me smile.

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