I have been in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan for just over a week now. I stayed with Nuri, the teacher who visited us at OHS, for the first night, then she arranged for me to stay with a student of hers as a host family. Since Monday I’ve been staying with Nuri again, since the student and family had to leave to Bishkek. Here’s a quick update on my goings-on here.
I attended a concert/awards ceremony (yes, I voluntarily sat through one), which gave me lots of ideas about how to improve our own – namely, more music, and more efficiency.
I toured the town with a group of four incredible students who took me to try every drink in the market and just about every snack. They showed me the new University of Central Asia, where I connected with the director. He, Nurbek, lived in Taoyuan, Taiwan for four years, so we bonded on the fact that we share three languages. He is running an innovation type program for youth in Naryn Oblast (County), and I suggested we collaborate with what we are doing in Gainesville. I sent out an email to the Co-Accelerator people regarding that, and hope to hear back soon.
The students took me to the American Corner in the Library, where I have now taught a few classes. I taught two classes of low-income “ACCESS” students in an English Conversation setting, and just finished a class with adult learners of English. I also watched a great film about the “queen” of the Kyrgyz, Kurmanjan Datka, with the students here in the Corner, also. It’s available on YouTube here:
Last Friday, I taught Kyrgyz teachers of English a lesson about art critiques – I showed them my mock critique lesson with blind contour drawings and how it could be applied to English acquisition.
I was sick from Saturday through today with an extremely bad cold (enough to leave me bedridden for three days straight, and with no appetite – me!- for five). I went to the doctor on Monday and got medicine for about $6.00 total, and am now mostly better.
I went to Таш-Рабат (Tash Rabat) with Nuri on a full day journey to the very south of the province (and Kyrgyzstan). Tash Rabat was a main stop on the Silk Road, a caravanserai sunk into the mountain near the pass Torugart Pass (now the border with China). At 3,500m, it was rather cold, and I can only imagine how ridiculously cold it must be in winter. Crazy to think that people used to cross slowly this way for trade! We also visited Кошой-Коргон (Koshoi-Korgon), the ancient remains of a walled encampment of one of Manas’s comrades, a waterfall, and a beautiful, quiet valley called Char.
Nuri is doing very well, and her three children and niece who lives with her are marvelous. She has a wonderful life here, and much of it I wish we could bring to OHS. She hangs out with colleagues at a cafe every week, and they are truly great friends beyond colleagues. She has amazing students who are respectful, full of a desire to learn, and grateful to her and to their educations. Last night, I went to a graduation ceremony with them, very different from ours (a massive meal/banquet/dance/show), and the emotional connections between students and teachers was very touching. It made me yearn to have that, too. Nuri doesn’t have a shower (they have to go to the local bath) and has a tiny and efficient home, and her husband passed away 12 years ago. But I don’t think she could be happier.
I have very rare access to internet, about once every three days, so it might be a while before I post again!