Published on March 13, 2005 By The Mada In Life Journals
Hello again from Kazakhstan,
I just wanted to send a group letter to let you know my situation. I’m writing this letter on Wednesday, August 19. Tomorrow will be my last day in Turgen, as we are leaving for our permanent sites on Friday. I will be taking a bus about 10 hours north of Almaty to a small town called Kabanbai, which will be my assignment for the next 2 years. It is a village of about 8000 people, mostly of the native Kazakh ethnicity. This will be a stark contrast to Turgen, which is made up mostly of the less conservative Russians. I will be living with a family of Tartar origin, which will likely be a conservative Muslim family. I don’t know much about them now, only that I will have a 16 year old host brother and a dog. Our house will be simple – that means there will be no running water and no indoor plumbing. We have a pump outside to get water, then we will boil it to make it useful for cooking and bathing. I have a water distiller so that I can drink it without getting sick. I will be teaching in a school of about 600 students, and will probably have about 16 hours of actual teaching per week. I will likely be teaching 8-10 grade students. I will be the only volunteer in this town, and my closest American neighbor will be more than an hour south, in the slightly larger town of Sarkand. For anyone who cares or keeps note of the other people I’ve talked about, my friend William will be living about 1 ½ hours away in a small village whose name I cannot remember, Sara will be living in the large city of Ust-Kamenigorsk, which is about 15 hours northeast of me, Yasameen will live near the city of Shimkent, about 25 hours west, Jay is in a tiny town on the Russian border about 25 hours away, and Bob will be living near Yasameen ina city called Taraz. If anyone cares, you can locate these cities on a map of Kazakhstan if you want to get an idea of how far we are apart from each other. My town of Kabanbai is a “new site.” This means that I will be the first volunteer to work in this town. This also means that I will likely be the first American (or first Westerner for that matter) that any of these people have ever seen. I’ve been told we will be treated like celebrities in our towns, with people asking for autographs and things like that. We finished our pre-service training last week with an intensive Russian language exam and our teaching skills were assessed through what is called Practicum, which meant that we spent two weeks teaching English classes in local schools to local students. Happily all 42 volunteers have survived to this point, which makes us the first group in awhile to have every volunteer successfully complete training.
For now, I want to let everyone know I will have telephone in my new home, so I may have somewhat regular access to the internet, and will also be able to make & receive long distance calls on a limited basis. Also, I don’t know what my permanent mailing address will be. I will find this out once I get to town and will let everyone know as soon as I can. Please do not send anything to me until I get that information out, because Peace Corps will not forward mail to me at my site. This means anything I receive at the office in Almaty will sit there until I can pick it up myself, which will likely be in January.
That’s about all the news for now, I have attached a few pictures so you can see what my first family looks like, also some of my friends, and what my house looks like. Please keep me up to date with any news from home – I always appreciate getting email from anyone. And by the way, Go Cardinals!!!
Love to all,

No one has commented on this article. Be the first!