I have been in Kazakhstan since Monday. As you might recall I arrived Monday in the afternoon. I was very tired, and even though Yulia and Ilona offered to show me around town I went to my room and went to sleep. On Tuesday two wonderful students Dasha and Yurislava showed me the town and the celebration of Naurzy. I was served a traditional Kazakh drink, made of yoghurt, kurt, cream, butter, and cheese. It is only served on Nauryz. However, I did not care for the drink, but had a great meal.
The next day another student, Timur, took me to town. I went to a bazaar, walked to the Irtysh and Ulba Rivers, had coffee, and attempted to do some shopping. Timur told me a lot about his village and what he is studying in University. He was a very nice young man.
Today was my first day of work at the Kazakh-American Free University. However, just like in the United States, the best laid plans of mice and men often go haywire. My first two classes were canceled because there was a miscommunication. It seems that students have a hard time coming back from vacation. And no one told them about the special class today. So none of the students returned for school. Later, Ilona would tell me that her finance class had one student and her other class later in the day had five students, out of 25. I don’t feel so bad now, the Kazakhstan students are just like my students, they come back late after a holiday.
So, no classes today, but we moved them to later next week. However, I did get a great tour of the campus by Aizhan. She is the administration person for the college, and she does a great job. She really does keep the school running. I met Galima, who is an incredible young lady who works at the college. I met Maks, who will be translating for me tomorrow. And lastly, I met Eugene, who also will be translating for me. So the day was actually a good one.
Eventually we had a meeting that really was productive. We discussed possible student partnership events between the Warner Pacific business department and KAFU business department. I think there could be some great possibilities with a partnership.
Today was a good day, but I really want to tell you about the banya. Banya, or public bathhouse, involves a process of sitting in a sauna with hot rocks. One person will dump water on the rocks to allow steam to rise. After sitting in the Sauna for as long as you can you run and jump into a cold pool. You then repeat the process until you get hungry. Remember you are doing this is with all men, and in the old days you were naked. Today three of us wore speedos, not me, and when it is decided to eat you wrap yourself in a towel and sit at the table and eat to your heart’s content.
Serek, Jasilan, Daniel, Patrick, and myself had a wonderful time eating, talking, and offering toasts for each other’s good fortunes. Even though I have not done much work yet, I have a good sense of tiredness. I am learning so much about the people of Kazakhstan. They are very nice.
Tomorrow I speak at a conference, have two classes, and I am told these classes will twelve students, and I have a seminar with KAFU alumni. Now the work truly begins,
And that is my thought for the day!