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.



Blogger Big Sis said...

yep, there are certain extreme seasons: way too hot/way too cold, way too wet/way too dry.
Sounds like the 'stan is similar to eastern Kentucky!
For example, we've been in a sever drought for weeks. Been praying for rain.
Beware of what you pray for, lol!
We got 4 inches of rain in less than 24 hours Wednesday/Thursday. Fields were flooded, crops were flattened and as for the road, we're extremely grateful to have 4WD trucks!
On the more positive note, how great an experience for you with your students' graduation!
Can't wait to see the pyramidical snowglobe with the golden chicken!

Aunt Paula

8:17 PM  
Blogger sherry said...

hi ashli!
happy belated birthday!
i have a laptop too! it's old and crappy but i love it anyway, hurry up! interrupt me!

12:21 AM  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Keep up the good work.

7:53 PM  

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