Friday, August 5, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
- Marie Curie - physicist and chemist, first person to win two Nobel Prizes
- Dr. Hawa Abdi - founder of a health clinic for women and children in Somalia
- Rosa Parks - civil rights activist
- Tomyris - queen of Iranic people in Central Asia
- Anna Politkovskaya - journalist and human rights activist opposed to Chechen conflict
- Aung San Suu Kyi - opposition political in Burma and Nobel Peace Prize winner
- Cleopatra - last pharaoh of ancient Egypt
- Mother Teresa - humanitarian and advocate
- Gabriela Mistral - educator, poet and first Latin American woman to win a Nobel Prize in Literature
- Saint Olga - Princess of Kiev who avenged her husband's death and converted to Christianity
- Valentina Tereshkova - first woman in space
- Jennifer Figge - endurance athlete
Saturday, March 5, 2011
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Thursday, January 27, 2011
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
After the full day trip away from Shymkent, I decided to make plans closer to home. My roommate Dina, Ira, my dad and I went to Sayram, a village about half an hour from Shymkent that used to be a Silk Road city. We went straight to a local school and met kids there who were eager to show us around their town. We started off in the backyard of the school to see a tower called Kydyra Minaret. The funny thing is I have been to Sayram for sight seeing before, this past summer actually when a German tourist was visiting Shymkent, and I visited this tower which we had to search for. I had no idea it was just behind the school. The students also took us to see a few mausoleums and then the Friday Mosque, where girls were actually allowed in as long as they weren’t on their periods. I could tell that this was news to the girls because most of them seemed as if they had never been in the mosque. Most still didn’t want to go. We capped off our visit with a trip to the local museum which showcased Kazakhstani history as well as Sayram’s. Our guide was very eager to explain everything to us and one of the students did an excellent job translating so my dad and I could keep up with him.On the way home we stopped at one of my best discoveries of the year. In fact it deserves its own paragraph! When riding the train from Shymkent to Almaty in the spring I spotted a bright green sign in Cyrillic that says Shymkent. However, from the train I could not figure out where it was. The street signs were too small and infrequent to read. This sign consumed me. I wanted to see it in real life. I wanted to take a picture with it, a full out photo shoot. I asked around but no one in Shymkent seemed to know where it actually is, if they had even heard of it at all. Major disappointment. Then during the summer when I went to Sayram with the German tourist, I saw it on our way back to Shymkent. I saw the sign! Since we had our own taxi on this most recent visit to Sayram and I was with some lovely company we stopped to take pictures with the coveted sign!
The next day we just got up, got ready and head off to the airport, but the funny thing about Kazakhstan is that it has a special way of welcoming you and it doesn’t let you leave. When my dad thought he was leaving Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan said no wait there’s more. We get to the airport an hour before his flight and no one is in line to check in. Strange. A short while later there is an announcement over the intercom. If it was in English the speaker system is so bad that I thought it was a foreign language. The flight would be delayed until 11 am because the plane hadn’t come in from Almaty. Okay not too long of a wait. Ten rolls around and all of a sudden another announcement stating the flight has been pushed back to 2 pm because the plane still hasn’t arrived. No big deal, it’s not like it’s the day before the Shymkent volunteers are hosting 20 people for a Thanksgiving dinner. At some point two representatives from Air Astana come around giving passengers a 500 tenge ($3.33) voucher to eat at the café in the airport. I didn’t even know the tiny airport had a dining establishment. The voucher somehow reaffirms that you’re in for the long haul. Some more time passes and finally my dad tells me I should get going because I had mentioned I had thanksgiving dinner grocery shopping to help out with. I kept insisting I stay because there was nothing to do in this airport. NOTHING! No arguing with my dad though, eventually I left after we hadn’t heard any flight changes in awhile. I head off to help with grocery shopping an emotional mess. It was really sad to leave my dad, but so nice to have someone from back home here visiting...me…in Kazakhstan. I get on with my day and get an unexpected call at 6 or 7 pm from my dad. His flight still hadn’t left! On top of that Air Astana wanted to put him on a bus to Almaty and have him find his own way to the airport. So many things are ridiculous about that suggestion! He hasn’t eaten dinner, he doesn’t speak Russian, the roads are so scary!!! Long story short he made it to Almaty fine but still couldn’t get a flight to India, where he was going to visit family. I think he ended up leaving over 36 hours after his original flight. What a mess! In the end though my dad said it was an interesting experience. I think that’s crazy. Is that interesting like actually interesting or ohhhh that’s ….mmm…interesting as in I can’t find words that describe how absurd the situation was. When he got to India my cousin sent me a picture of my dad from his Blackberry with a caption that read, “India accepts refugee from Kazakhstan”. Thanks for the laugh. And dad, thanks for visiting.
Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving! Happy holidays, folks!
If you want to see pictures of his visit or of my second year here in
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
October and half of November have flown by! I've been amazed at how there is not enough time each day.
In the beginning of October I moved out of my host family's apartment and into an apartment with a local friend and her sister. I was living with my host family since November of last year and will really miss living with them but like the change as well. I still visit them. My new apartment is on the top floor of a building in the dead center of Shymkent and it was recently renovated. It took me awhile to get settled in but since then I've already hosted a few guests.
At the end of the month Britt left Shymkent after volunteering here for the past two years, She has been an amazing friend and support and I can't imagine my past year without her. When I first got to Shymkent she hosted me for a week, helped me visit my host family options and introduced me to Musli cereal. More importantly, she got me into Battlestar Galactica over the last few months. Leading up to Britt's departure she, Phillip and I marathoned the last season.
So this holiday isn't completely unknown here it's just not celebrated at all. My friends in Shymkent, however, got a taste of it at my Halloween party. The first guests that arrived received American chocolates (Butterfingers) and all were greeted by decorations that I had been preparing for a few days. During the evening we ate pumpkin pie and pizza that was delivered (a novelty), danced, had a costume contest and watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Sharing cultural moments like this are a fun part of the Peace Corps experience.
Last week at 6:15 in the morning we (kz-21s) went to pick up the new volunteers who will live in Shymkent for the next two years. We welcomed Bethany, Cynthia, James, and Katie with a pancake brunch. Delicious! Over the past week and a half they have been busy getting adjusted to their new lives, finding host families and understanding the intricacies of Kazakhstani work culture.
College Application Workshop
Last week was Fall break for public schools in Shymkent. Since my older students are normally super busy taking extra courses I had a 3 day training for them during the break. It was a workshop to teach them how to apply to universities and colleges in America. We covered topics such as choosing universities to apply to, writing application essays, scholarships, admissions tests, resumes, and American college culture. I had a lot of help from other Peace Corps volunteers and two Fulbrights that live in Shymkent. Part of the workshop required students to prepare a draft of their personal statements so they could get one-on-one editing help from the volunteers and Fulbrights. Over the 3 days about 20 students showed up, maybe 7-9 showed up everyday and they found it really helpful.
Guest of Honor
In just a few days my dad will be visiting me for about 5 days! Not only am excited to see him after a year and a few months, but many of my local friends are interested in meeting him. I'm going to take him to work, to meet my host family and see some cultural sites. More on the visit later!
Peace Corps Trainings
Right after Thanksgiving a few of us will get on a train and head to Almaty for two trainings. The first is about PEPFAR and HIV/AIDS and the second is our Mid-Service Training. I'm not really sure what the second one will be about but it will be great to see friends that are spread all over this huge country.
Whew! That's alot and to be honest I just breezed through it without much detail but I'm glad to be busy!