Another Day

Trip Start Aug 20, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Kazakhstan  ,
Monday, September 25, 2006

No. 1 Rule of Marshrutka (small bus) riding: Do Not Sit Shotgun. From the front seat, you can see how many people, cows, and other vehicles the bus almost hits. From the back, you are unaware of how many times you almost die.

This past Friday was a holiday in Kazakhstan to celebrate the many languages that school chilren are learning, so in our school there was an assembly and several of the volunteers had to recite poetry in Kazakh or Russian as well as playing violin and guitar. The students put on a performance of singing, poetry, and doing national dances (we got native Kazakh dancing and belly dancing).

Teaching has been an interesting vocation. I feel bad assigning homework, because this past week the homework assignment was to read a paragraph at home. Many of the students were unable to do their homework, I realized too late, because they didn't have books. Granted, these books are atrocious, but they are what we have to work with. I felt bad about that. The kids also aren't used to getting up and moving around in class, but are taught to sit quietly. I had an activity where they were to get up and move around and ask each other questions, but at the end of it they just stood at their seats waiting for me to tell them to sit down. So awkward. At least the trainer said she liked my classes because I teach slowly and quietly, but I feel like I keep making a bunch of blunders. And tonight she basically rejected my lesson plan because and I have to make up a new one before I teach tomorrow.

English club is getting rougher. I'm getting to work with the older kids now, and at site I think I want to have the older and younger kids on separate days of the week so it's not an overload, and it would be easier smaller- here there are just so many kids. It will also be nice to have an English club that I can get to know better and do more with instead of just playing games.

Saturday in Russian class we went and purchased fermented mare's milk. It was probably just about the most disgusting thing I have ever tried- it smelled like smoked turkey/beef jerky and tasted like stomach bile- a mixture of meat and lemon. Barf.

One of the volunteer's classes here in Esik was cancelled, so he's having to readjust and learn the faces and skill level of a new class. Rough times for him.

I've realized that I'm working 12 hour days here. I'm exhausted. It's awesome and fun, but I am totally worn down all the time. I have to be at school at 8, and don't get home till around 8 and then get to speak in Russian with my homestay and other students I run into on my walk home. After that in the evening I have to write lesson plans and design posters for class. And I'm not sure how much English the kids are actually learning.

Today I went to Turgen, another village where there are some other volunteers. It was a fun taxi ride- I got to bond with 3 other random Russians and a cat in the backseat. Got to know them more intimatly as the taxi veered around random cows and herds of sheep in the road. And on the taxi on the way home I was first yelled at in Kazakh for slamming the door, and then he switched to Russian. While driving, he tried to hit a dog. It was rather entertaining...
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libby56 on

Winter is coming?????
My idea of winter coming is that it is finally not so hot, even in the morning, that I gasp for air in the humidity when I open the back door in the morning! It is crisp this morning, and makes me want to skip work and go for a drive in the country.

Your days sound pretty exciting to me, although I cannot imagine how you are doing it. Asking children to read and finding out they have no books sounds like something I would do, and is, I suppose, the kind of thing you are there to learn--Not everyone has a life like you or me.

I have a new boss at work, which means that I am no longer the boss. You have no idea how happy that makes me--I am actually almost sleeping again. I also bought an old Alfa Romeo convertible as a mid-life crisis car. Very cool. All the 40 year old men on my street, the ones married with 2 children, are all over it. If only I had wanted to attract married men maybe this would have been a better idea!

Take care. I enjoy your description of life there, even fermeted mares milk! Loce, Aunt Lib

gailg on

Greetings from Alabama
Hi Mary. Bud & I are enjoying following your activities. Haven't seen photographs yet...I hope they're coming. Let us know if there's something we should send you. -Gail.

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