January 2011


Kazakhstan is the host country of the Seventh Asian Winter Games in Astana. The official opening ceremony of the Asian Games took place in Astana – the capital city of Kazakhstan. The show promised to be exciting and it really was. 30 000 people, who came to see the opening ceremony of the winter games didn’t expect to have such kind of a show. The ceremony was really SUCCESS.

The scene was fire-red in the very beginning. The cloud circle in the middle of the scene dropped as if it had fallen and got broken. It was a part of a great show.

The great firework gave start to the opening ceremony. Below you can see people in golden clothes – interpretation of Animal Style from our history.

Above you can see a.m. cloud circle in the air falling, the scene that get people more excited about the show.

The color of stage changed to the scene prepared. The small lights behind are done by the power of thousands of people.

The Asian sand clock gave start to the beginning of the ceremony.

The sparkling horse decorated the sky of the ceremony.

Taikazan (traditional Kazakh bowl). Kazakh people prepared food for large number of people in a special bowl called Taikazan.

To be continued… Follow the posts.

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The most important people that need our care and love most of all are children. They are incapable of protecting themselves and fighting for their rights. That kind of conclusion I made yesterday after UNICEF representative’s ( Hanaa) speech.  Though she didn’t use any attention getting devices to compel our attention, everybody was listening to her, because the situation of children rights meant a lot to us. Actually, her theme was the best attention getting device. I used to think that situation with children rights in our country has no global problems. However, yesterday meeting and Hanaa’s presentation on children rights in Kazakhstan made me change my mind and find out more about human rights violation in our country.

I was shocked by the statistics she presented. The facts about child mortality and maternal mortality decreased since 2008-2010, but these facts leave much to be desired. I noticed that among the child mortality rate the first places take Asian countries and Kazakhstan is on the seventh place. It is rather disappointing information. What does it mean? Even though we signed Children Rights Declaration, the situation still remains problematic and actual one or is it getting better year by year.  I hope that these statistics are “reduced” and decreased numbers of the whole problem we had just only becoming independent.  Nevertheless, there are still a lot of problems to solve in a sphere of health and medicine. If we draw attention to the statistics on anemia proportion of women of reproductive age, we can clearly see that nearly 50% of women in our country have impoverished blood. That is bad, because it means that the half of all women, who are capable to give a birth to a child have weak health. Another distressing fact is suicide rate among 15-19 year old adolescents:  again Kazakhstan is “in a leading position.”

When I read the following NGO Partners report to UNICEF, I remembered “Two Kyrgyz women” by M. Franulovic:

Mariya was 14 when her mother and father died and she was placed at the orphanage in one of the main cities of Kazakhstan. Her parents were alcoholics so Mariya was often left without care. At the orphanage where she put after death of her parents she was often beaten by peers. When she was 15 she met a young man who promised to take her to Astana. She escaped from the orphanage to go to an attractive capitol with a new friend. In Astana she found out she was sold for 20,000 tenge (150 USD) to provide sexual services. When she refused her “owner” raped her and was beating her until she agreed. She was forced to have sex with up to ten customers a day, even when she was pregnant. When she delivered her baby was taken away and she never saw it. She is not even sure it was a boy or a girl. Thanks to one customer who helped her to escape she is now provided with support at a centre for victims of trafficking run but NGO. Mariya is happy she managed to run away but she said that many other young girls she knows were not so lucky…

This case have much in common with those Kyrgyz women’s ones. All of them underwent the hardship of being rescued once they get involved into the business of human trafficking. The thing that shocked me most off all is about the victims of trafficking in Astana, in the city, where we live. We used to think that such awful problems happen somewhere far away, far away from us, but it is not so. Who knows, perhaps, we meet those victims everyday in the streets of our capital city.

We say that world is getting better, but we do not always know what the real meaning of it is. Yes, I do not deny, the conditions for life is getting better, the amenities to live with comfort is improving. But! The most important creatures of the world – people – are dehumanizing themselves. That’s a big problem. It is the problem that causes a lot of them. The things that we create with hardships, we destroy at a glance.

Poverty, Sadness, rears on faces, fear, a hard job, an endless queue for food and water… and African countries. That is what we have seen in a short video clip with lullaby background music presented by UNICEF. Studying PDP we have many quest speakers to visit our classes. As usual, UNICEF representative in Kazakhstan Hanaa Singer came to our university yesterday. We waited for her for a long time and were glad to listen to her. Hanaa has a long background of working with human rights. She worked in many countries such as Tanzania, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Burundi, etc. And now she is in Kazakhstan. She gave a presentation on children rights all over the world and in our country. It was the first time I understood the way UNICEF work and collaborates with the countries. It works to improve the lives of neglected and that’s why the more countries are involved the better.
I learned a lot of new things, for instance, MDG – the Millennium Development Goals. When we asked yesterday what it was, I didn’t understand what they were for, what those goals really meant for UNICEF. Later when I googled it in the internet I got it. MDGs are the goals to solve the problems we saw in a short video clip, the goals that are agreed to achieve by 2015.
The best thing that I liked about Hanaa’s presentation was reliability of the information. I know, UNICEF is a strong organization and it keeps all data related to their investigation. It was great to hear those statistics, though terrible, from a person like Hanaa. Even though we read a lot about human rights violation in the internet, mostly, we cannot be sure about statistics. What is worse – we begin arguing if we find different information on the same problem.
Hanaa’s speech is really one of the examples of giving good presentation, and now looking back I realize the difficulty of speaking to the public, the difficulty of standing in front of the audience. Concerning my own presentation in future, I will try to do much helpful as possible to me so that I won’t get lost in my thoughts having a lot of eyes looking at me.
It was a pity that we had a little time to ask more questions. However, the problem that we discussed yesterday is a very global one and its discussion could last for many many hours.

I am glad we are learning more and more about different kinds of things to teach our students. And one of such useful teaching devices is Jazz chants. I have never heard about it before. Perhaps, it is because I was taught English in old and very traditional ways: drilling and translating. We never used to use jazz chants in our classroom. There were times when our teacher taught us “May there always be sunshine”, “If you are happy”, and “What is your name”. These are all songs I knew from my school English. I remember, once we sang the very first song in three languages and the pupils from other classes asked us to teach them that song in English. Children wanted to sing in English, but what they had to do if there was nobody to teach them.
And now, I am glad that teachers in Kazakhstan do not try to keep that very old and bored way of language teaching. Being at school practice at NIS, I am learning a lot about modern methods of teaching. I used to be in practice at schools in Aktobe, but NIS differs from them totally. It is good to be able to use everything you learn in your own classroom. Actually, my supervisor at NIS is open to learn many things from me as well.
As for the jazz chants, I think it is good to use them with what you want, it might be vocabulary, grammar, etc. If you teach jazz chants with pleasure, students will get interested in it and they will do chanting in every day life. Through jazz chanting they will be able to use simple words, phrases, and even sentences in communication. And, on the other hand, jazz chants are very easy to remember!
To be open and self-develop are the most important qualities of a successful teacher. Yesterday we had a quest and she told about various problems at schools. All of our teachers know about those problems, but they either do not know how to get the lessons improved or they are too weak to get away from the old techniques of their teaching. That’s what occurs in our classrooms, but I hope young and competent teachers will do their best to raise the quality of education at schools.
As a matter of fact, we are “the products” of that teaching. And I do not wish my children to be taught in the way I was. Perhaps, the fact that we were taught in a traditional way, through Soviet books (even in the century of being independent) will help us to make the change. Now, I found a reason I didn’t want to work at school. I didn’t see the potential power of it! I did realize that teaching can be really fun.

Yesterday our PDP teacher showed us an example of a jazz chant. It was fun to sing. The constant repetition of the words doesn’t get pupils bored, on the contrary, they will have a lot of fun with it. That was the jazz chant we practiced yesterday.

Selfish

This is mine!

That’s yours!

Don’t_touch mine!

Get_your_own!

This is mine!

That’s yours!

This is mine!

That’s yours!

This is mine!

That’s_yours!

That’s_yours!

That’s yours!

Hey, what are you doing?

What are you doing with that?

That’s mine!

Hey, what are you doing?

What are you doing with_that?

That’s his!

Hey, what are you doing?

What are you doing with that?

That’s hers!

What’s mine is mine.

What’s_yours is_yours.

What’s his is his.

What’s_hers is_hers.

What’s ours is ours.

What’s theirs is theirs.

Sometimes, students have so many difficulties with pronouns. If they drill the pronouns trying to learn them by heart, it MIGHT work; but if they sing them, it WILL work! So, isn’t it a nice way to teach them English?! Dear, teachers, get off of the gray colors in your classrooms, make your lessons brighter and more exciting.

When I heard about Toastmasters for the first time, I hadn’t thought too much about it. There are many people, who have heard about it, but very few, who really know what it is. And untill today I was among the latter ones. I am happy our PDP teacher invited special guests to our classes so we could ask questions and find out more about Toastmasters. Toastmasters international is a worldwide organization that helps people to do public speaking on the highest level. There are a lot of people, who do not know how to communicate, how to speak in front of a wide audience. Toastmasters work with different companies, executives, managers and they help them to do their speaking better. Toastmasters motivate people for easy public speaking and help them to overcome their shyness, nervousness, embarrassment and whatever occurs once a person is in front of a large audience. It encourages and teaches people to work one in one and in small groups, to give presentations. We know, most of our success depends upon our communication ability. Those, who have great communicative skills are great leaders. And that’s absolutely true.

Toastmasters is a realty that makes effective communication possible. It is a way of learning to speak accurately through mistakes of your own. It is a whole procedure involving your first incompetent speech and wonderful presentations that these incompetent speeches will lead you to.

Today we found out many information on how Toastmasters functions, and how develops in Kazakhstan. Toastmasters gives explanations on public speaking. It holds different kinds of speeches on any topic. And it really pushes you to self-improvement. There are no evaluation guide for members give assessments to each other independently. Toastmasters, functioning in Astana, is one and new part of this whole system. Organized twice a week and lasting for two hours, it gives much of itself to the speakers. It doesn’t leave you with personal problems to deal alone, it tries to turn your weak point to the strongest one.

Usual Toastmaster day begins with quests introduction and tips of the day. It is not a time to spend sleeping in behind rows, it is a time to listen to several speakers speech in a span of 5-7 minutes each. In the end of every performance speakers are evaluated according to the following criteria: time, grammar and time-wasting sounds like aaa, mm, eeeh, etc. Consulting a.m. criteria general evaluator comments on the speech. After that other members of the club can hand in their cards with comments, likes and dislikes, suggestions. I think, it is a hard process to go through, but necessary one, if one desires to impress someone just in a few words.

It was a pleasure to watch a video of a successful businessman once to come to Toastmasters for the first time and witness the feelings he went through that time. He was not confident and not even sure about his communication abilities. He had a fear to speak in front of the members of the club. I liked the first brave step he made to deal with his uncertainty and successfully coped with it. To the task to convince someone with a story ( doesn’t matter true or false one), he did the best to get everything believe in his quick-made up imaginative story. I cannot deny it was a successful step for a freshman.

What I liked about Toastmasters is that it deals with your public speaking weaknesses openly. Attempt to hide your fear and shyness will cause many difficulties on the way of becoming a real SPEAKER. Unless you learn to confess your weak points, you won’t be a strong speaker.

Do you feel shy having tens of eyes staring at you? Then get over it having these feelings to disappear with every visit to Toastmasters. Don’t lose your time, don’t wait untill you need communication skills, go for it right now. And one day you will speak to the world!

Cover of "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a B...

Cover via Amazon

Have you ever read a book about children in war. If not, you should read “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah. It is a truthful story of Civil War that took place in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2002. The book is a testimony of the way a child soldier had gone and hardships he had overcome in the war. Ishmael Beah is the author and the pivotal character of the book. The book story is his real life. Being 12 years old he was involved into the war, and faced with death many times during the fighting. When the war began, Ishmael lost his parents, later his brother with whom he hoped to find his family. Escaping from the rebels, he got involved into the army of the country. Ishmael described every minute he had spent in a fear to be caught and killed. When he was actively in the war, he was prepared to take weapons and to kill. He lost his family, brother, and his friends in the way of endless fights. Each time he lost somebody, he became more and more cruel. He forgot what childhood really meant to him.

However, the end of the book is not dramatic. In the end, Ishmael returns to the previous civil life. He spent much time to be rehabilitated and to forget about revenge and desire to kill. Desire to kill was one of the things the corporals taught them to be necessary to survive in the war. During the period of rehabilitation Ishmael found difficulties to forget all the cruelty and inhuman qualities the was taught him. He didn’t trust anyone. He had nobody to share his feelings.

Nowadays, he went through all those barriers successfully. A lot of people know about a child soldier that made a brave step to change his life and begin absolutely new one. That is what Ishmael writes himself about it ” There was no element of choice when it came to being in the army, but regaining a person I was before that required a lot of work. I had lost the ability to exhibit human emotions; I had forgotten how to sleep; I had to learn the routine of everyday life again.” A small child became a good writer, who shared his life story with the people of all over the world. With the help of many people he had written “A Long Way Gone”, and later he gave different speeches about the human rights violation and children in war. Then “he became involved into a documentary film called Bling’d, taking a group of hip-hop artists to Sierra Leone to witness at first hand how the trade in illegal diamonds had impacted on the country. A teaser for the film on YouTube, to the sound of Shirley Bassey singing “Diamonds are forever”, shows children missing limbs, men and women being shot, children brandishing AK-47s, bought with the proceeds of the illegal diamond trade.” ( A Long Way Gone, I. Beah)

Watch the video on Conflict Diamonds.

It is a pity that such inhuman actions appear in our centuries. Human rights issue is still one of the topical problems of human society. It is not just a theme to talk about, it is the matter that needs support from everyone. On my part, I am grateful to my friend, who advised me this book for I have never known before about the Civil War in Sierra Leone. On my due, I advise you to read the book and get more and more people to know about it. Washington Post once said “Everyone in the world should read this book”.

Today,as usual, I spent my first part of the day at school. I am getting to like this school more and more. As I have said before my teacher is so great and modern. She is open to people’s opinions, suggestions and comments. And she can listen to the students, she always pays attention to their voices. Today, I was surprised by what my future students and my teacher had done for me. I came to the first lesson with the idea of learning more new things from my supervisor. But, it turned out to be that we had other things to do at school today. So, I missed the first lesson. Actually, it was a pair of English. And participated in the second one. The teacher was about to check their hometask. I wondered why they didn’t do it on the first lesson. Usually, we, first, check the given hometask and only then move with forward according to the lesson plan. Actually, the students wanted ME to be there and listen to them. So, the teacher suggested to do it on the second lesson. I was pretty surprised. All of the students were divided into several groups, and each presented the poster they had prepared for the lesson. The posters were about different celebrities: Mike Kenji, Robert Downey, Eminem, Emma Watson, Will Smith, etc. They hang their posters all over the classroom and told about their star to everyone who moved to listen to them. I was also enrolled into their presentation asking several questions. The students were active, and I hope they liked to speak English with me, because the rest part of the lesson we were speaking English only.

They told me that on Monday, when I came to their class for the first time, they were guessing who I was. The teacher forgot to get me introduced.  In a word, I like my PDP classes and I like students and teachers at school.

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