Tuesday, July 03, 2007

4 of 7!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

ah, sweet graduation/good god, it's hot

so, i promised i would tell you all about graduation, and here goes. . . .

i took the overnight bus from almaty to my village (wanna talk about fun times?. . . this is not it). as we're all aware, it's summertime in central asia which can only mean one thing -- it's hot as balls. especially when you're on an overnight bus that seems to have been built sometime during the ford administration, with windows that do not open, and an "air conditioner" that feels like a little man is perched up on the roof and is blowing his stinky breath onto you face. but, once it got to be about 2 in the morning it got really, really cold (any meteorologists out there that can explain that one?. . . i basically slept through 9th grade science and i don't understand the melting days/frosty nights concept). anyways, i got into my village at about 5:30 in the morning, stumbled to my counterpart's house, and slept the good sleep until noon.

when i got up it was unnecessarily hot -- again. (i'm not complaining, really. i'm just really complaining about the heat -- my swedish side can't handle this stuff!) then i ate lunch with the counterpart and her fam. (her husband mercifully bought a 6 pack of bottled water to satiate us -- and a bottle of shymkent beer (my fav!) that was only for miss ashli to drink!) after my beer, gulshat (my counterpart) lit up the banya so we could get all clean for graduation . . . keif! my first banya in over 2 months was truly beautiful. . . i was sooooo clean! then we got all dressed up and went to the school for graduation, which was to start promptly at 7 (in russian and kazakh, you pronounce this as "about quarter to eight").

we get to the school and all of my kids run up to me to shake my hand and wish me a happy b-day. the fact that they remembered my birthday made me want to cry, but i didn't -- my makeup would've run ;). so after the obligatory hour and a half of wishes from parents and presentations of more certificates than needed, the kids started their show. i've gotta say one thing for this country, they love to party down. even their graduation ceremony -- which in the america is a pretty austere event -- broke down into an all-singing, all-dancing spectacle. and true to their gentlemanly selves, almost all my boys asked me to dance with them; from "goodmorningteacher", to "badnurtas", to "nonicknamebecausehe'ssuchanicekid" misha. after the dancing i was asked to give a speech. i felt like a rockstar, they were all like, "and now, miss ashli, who came ALL THE WAY FROM ALMATY for your graduation, will give her wishes to you!" whhoooooooooooooooooooo! yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! if the kids had lighters, they would have lit them up, monster ballad style. so i gave my little speech wishing them success and a good journey in life. i was rewarded with a small, pyramidal snowglobe with a golden chicken inside it. hoot, hoot.

after the graduation, the kids and their parents had an all-night party at a nice cafe outside of the village and they invited me and some other teachers to come. so we did.

funny story number one: it was my birthday. it was also arman's birthday. arman's a boy in one of my 11th grade classes and he's the runt, so all the kids pick on him. but, because we were the birthday boy and girl, gulshat had arman escort me into the restaurant. but ernar (goodmorningteacher) wanted to escort me. arman said to ernar -- "she's with me, get back to your place in line"! take it to the hole, arman!

funny story number two: so, there's this kid in my class, bolat. i'm not sure if i've mentioned him by name before, but this kid is awesome. he loves to dance, and every time i go to a school disco, or a class party, i dance with bolat. graduation was not any different. not funny, huh? wait for it. . . i found out at the party that bolat is the youngest of 9 kids. wow. then i met his mom: she was about 4 and a half feet tall and looked to be about 55-60 years old. but after having known his mother only about 8 seconds, i figured out where bolat got his moves from. this lady physically pulls me onto the dance floor and proceeds to outdance me for 3 consecutive songs. when i finally sat down, one of my kids asked, "are you tired, miss ashli?" i go, "yeah, bolat's mom dances too good for me." they laughed. i was serious.

heartwarming/sappy story number one: so, the tradition with graduation parties here in the kz (or at least my part of the kz) is that you party -- literally -- until dawn on the night of your graduation, then you go with your class to watch the sun rise on your first morning as an adult. you're supposed to stand with your friends and make a wish on the sunrise.

heartwarming/sappy story number two: i wished that every birthday i have from now on ends with me being surrounded by people i love and care about. . . and maybe watching the sun rise.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

guess what i did!

i bought a computer! that's right, folks, with the money i saved by living frugally in the village for two years has allowed me to buy a laptop! and it's not even goat-powered. . . i got the one with a battery and a power cord! hoot, hoot! now i can work from home and type up long, insightful, and intriguing blogposts for you all to ponder! YAY!

but, seriously, this should help make my job easier, and the quality of my work higher (this is, at least, the hope)

what else is going on in my life right now? oh yeah, my mail-order kailin arrived in the mail the other day! her name is dilorom. . . she cooks, she cleans, she is distracted by shiny objects! but seriously, she's michael's friend from his village and she's about to go with him for a little vaca in the america (visa difficulties non-withstanding). they're staying with me in my almaty flophouse for a few days. she's reading this right now, so what else can i say about her. . . she likes sugary popcorn, but not the salty kind. can you believe that? what kind of people am i letting in my house?!

something interesting will happen soon, and i'll let you all know about it the second it does. i'm going to my kids' graduation party in the village next week and will undoubtedly have many great stories from that (and my b-day with gulshat -- the best counterpart ever!).


Monday, June 11, 2007

back to work!

so, the first round of cos-ing 17s has left and i am once again alone in the city. it's not that bad, though, i'm uber busy with work stuff here, and i've started making some connections in the city. so, the fun volunteer times are on hiatus, at least until there are some other volunteers who need a place to stay in the city.

today, they tell me i get to go up to the attic and "organize files". . . i. can't. wait.

that's pretty much all that's going on here. i eventually want to scratch my consumerism itch by buying all kinds of kazakhstan crap. oh, and russian music cd's.

Monday, June 04, 2007

kaz17 cos

if you know what the title of this post means, you're prolly a peace corps volunteer. this week my group of volunteers is going home (closing their service -- cos). but, like i said before, i'm staying here for another 6 months or so, i'm not going anywhere for a while. but anyways. . . now there are about a dozen peace corps volunteers in almaty getting ready to go home. and, because i now live in almaty, these guys are all staying at my apartment.


i was sort of afraid that i wouldn't get to see everyone before they left. but now i'm living in super sweet almaty in my super sweet apartment. so my 17s are staying with me and it's really great to have a house full of people. not gonna lie -- i like my privacy, but occasionally, i just need to have 10 or 15 houseguests come and stay with me for about a week to help scare away the quiet times.

things have been rather standard for the past few days. no wild times with the pcvs. . . yet. everyone's super jazzed to go and it's making me really satrt to look at the kz with fresh eyes. you know, a lot of the volunteers who are leaving are never going to come back to kazakhstan and so they're tryig to grab all of the memories that they can before it's time to go back to the america. because, (un)fortunately, time fades memories -- which is good if the memories are bad, but bad if the memories are good. . . it's sort of an inverse relationship thing -- and we've really loved our time here, so forgetting anything seems like the worst thing that could ever happen. but, like i said, i'm not going anywhere for a while, so i wasn't feeling that way until i started talking to everyone who was going home.

i realize now that i should't wait until the last minute to grab my memories. i don't wanna forget the kz; it's been too good to me. but right now, i'm doing the slow goodbye thing with all of my groupmates -- it's amazing how much we've grown and how much i'm going to miss them. kazakhstan wouldn' t have been the same without them. so, the kazakhstan memory grab will have to wait at least until i'm finished with the 17 memory grab. . . .

and here's a good memory grab (please excuse the language):

this is a story that i've stolen from alex, a 17 who's leaving this week --

alex: so, i was joking around with one of my freinds and i said to her, "i'm going to f*cking kill you." and she says, "f*ck first, then kill, yes?" hilarious!!!!! alex says "f*cking kill", the friend hears "f*ck and kill"!! so our joke of the day has been to "f*ck and _____". for example: "alex, why don't you f*ck and do the dishes?" "ashli, go f*ck and eat lunch."

Monday, May 21, 2007

movin on up

ok, so sorry about that, everyone. apparently, for some reason that is beyond my comprehension, i was only able to save the title of the post last time. odd. so, i'll try to recapture the essense of lost post.


movin on up: a tribute

so, i'm movin on up/ to the east side (of kz)/ to that delux apartment in the sky/ i'm movin on up/ to the east side (of kz)/ i finally got a piece of the pie!

that's right. i have moved to almaty. i wasn't supposed to move until august, but stuff happened and i left my village a little bit early. i'm not exactly thrilled about leaving the village, but the powers-that-be think it's best for me to be working in the largest (and therefore most modern and cosmopolitan) city in kazakhstan. so, i'll deal.

and where will i deal? lemme tell you -- in my sweet ass apartment!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

you're getting warmer

it's starting to be hot here now. rats. the nice weather of spring lasts for approximately 34.224 seconds here in the south of kz. now the dread summer is creeping in. don't get me wrong, it's not 115 degrees yet, but it's coming. i can smell it. in the mornings it's still kinda cool, but by 1, 2 o'clock, damn. it's like 85, 90 -- that's too hot for me.

ok, now that i've dispensed with my mid-western cultural duty of discussing the weather (c'mon, ohioans, you know it's true!), what else is up? aha. . .

the first of may (or the "day of international friendship" or the "day of intercultural cooperation and understanding" or the "day when i go to the town square to watch my students do a dance and i don't have to go to school") is coming up, and my kids have been practicing like mofos on this dance that they're gonna perform for the town. now, you know me, i love dancing, but this is boardering on silly. my kids have been practicing daily for 2 weeks. this wouldn't be so bad if they didn't have to practice RIGHT UNDERNEATH MY CLASSROOM DURING LESSONS. it's intense. i've heard the music for the dance so much, i swear, i dream about it. but, all will be back to (near) normal soon. after this celebration, i've been promised that there will be no more large-scale choreographical undertakings for the rest of the year.

anyway, that's pretty much me right now. i'm still stuck on summer plans. you see, i wanna travel, and i have time, but - unfortunately - it turns out that i'm a peace corps volunteer. so, i'm limited in the funds department.

(sidebar: i wrote my friend from college the other day. she's going to be working in south america this summer and asked for visitors in her blog. i was like -- damn! south america. i could totally go for some of that right now. so, i write that i'll look into visiting, right? wrong! apparently, they want you to PAY for plane tickets nowadays, which blows. but anyways. . . what are you gonna do -- besides bitch on your blog, of course :) )

so, that's it. i'll write more when it comes to me.