You know I am leading research on the theme of international exchange. Yesterday I presented my first speech called “Are you still here?” The reason I talk and write about international exchange is passion to go abroad, passion to motivate others to do the same.

Recently, I saw a cartoon in Toastmasters journal. It shows a woman of a higher rank giving advice to her employee. She says

“Always start your presentation with a joke, but be careful not to offend anyone! Don’t mention religion, politics, race, money, disease, technology, men, women, children, plants, animals, food.”

So what is he to joke about then? Furniture? Is it the only thing that won’t offend people of different cultures?! The moral of the cartoon is diversity – diversity in international exchange. “Going abroad to study is hard, so is coming back after completing one’s studies”. We used to see only advantages in study abroad experiences, but here I want to draw your attention to the disadvantages students in China have once they go abroad to study. The Chinese students, who have studied abroad, find it difficult to use their knowledge in their home country, because of low incomes in working places, shortage resource funds and excessive everyday pressure. And what is the most interesting thing is that while Kazakhstan is lacking students, who have studied abroad, in China it is even difficult to serve for their Motherland. Isn’t it diversity of policy? Their strategy, in no way, supports students from abroad.

Fortunately, we are happy to have another situation in Kazakhstan. In general, Kazakhstani students go abroad to study because of future perspectives they gain as they come back. In comparison with China, Kazakhstan is open to all students, who wish to study abroad. As soon as they return home, students are given a good job, offered a place to live, and have no restrictions in working places.

Even though all students in our country have opportunity to study abroad, most of them do not make use of the chance. Though the government supports studying abroad through different programs. Only Bolashak scholarship sends thousands of students to oversea countries each year. In addition, there are other programs offered to Kazakhstan by foreign countries. “Why are you still here then?” (Students, who really wish to study abroad.)

If someone tell you that he wants to study abroad, you understand him at once (how?) and ask no questions (why?), because deep in heart you also hope to study abroad. Still there is one thing wrong. We are lazy, we like saying “later”. Sometimes later becomes never. Knowing about this problem, I want to present you my conception that I like calling “Lazy student’s wish to study abroad”. Recently, I was sent a message – introduction to MyUface.

What is myUface?

MyUface helps you get into the best U.S. university, college or certificate program for you. At myUface.com you’ll be able to create an online academic profile and share it with U.S. universities. You can also get advice on applying to U.S. universities, studying in the U.S., preparing for standardized tests, and much more – all from the myUface staff, who have decades of experience getting international students into U.S. universities. Best of all, myUface is absolutely free to use.

International exchange means everyday new things to learn, new ways to look at the world around you. I want to tell you about interesting case as an example of international exchange. Once Japanese Prime-Minister was about to have an official meeting with Bill Clinton. Japanese Prime-Minister just wanted to greet his colleague in English, and let the rest of the work to be done by his translator. He was explained to see “How are you?” and “Me too”. So it is the day of meeting. Here is Bill Clinton. Japanese Prime-Minister asks “WHO are you?” instead “HOW are you?”. Confused Clinton answers “Well, I am .. Hilary’s husband.” What do you think Asian Prime-Minister’s the next answer is? … “Me too.”

So, dear friends, have a chuckle and remember you won’t understand another country better until you live by their rules, until you have a proper foreign experience. Have an international exchange. Study abroad. Go for it right now!

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Searching for the topic that relates to my research theme I encountered with Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on Ted.com. “Schools kill creativity” by Robinson made a great impression on me and I simply decided to listen to his talk “Bring on the learning revolution” whether it is pertinent to my research or not. What I like about Ken Robinson is the way of presenting a subject to the public. His manner of speech is discerning and always interesting. Mr. Robinson knows how to sustain the listener’s interest till the end of the speech.

Actually, “Bring on the learning revolution” does relate to my research of international exchange for foreign education is also an essential part of that revolution Ken talks about. In his talk Ken touches upon the problem of human resources, precisely the crisis of human resources. All people have inner talents, some of them succeed in revealing their talent to life, others, however, keep them deep inside mostly with no idea about them. Accordingly, people either enjoy what they do or endure. I remember my school teacher, who ‘begged’ me not to be a teacher at all. Actually, I didn’t feel I wanted to be a teacher, but I had a passion for English. And now 7 years later I feel no regret for being a teacher, because I am a teacher of English. On the contrary, I am grateful to the English language: I got my Bachelor Degree, I study at the most prestigious University of my country and I have a possibility to study abroad for my Master’s Degree.

However, Robinson’s speech made me think about my inner talents. I might be an architect, a sportswoman or somebody else, who knows?! It is true that “you cannot predict the outcome of human development; all you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.”  Ken encourages to customize to the circumstances, and personalize education to the people we’re actually teaching. To do it we need to pay our attention to the quality of education. It is the problem we try to solve today.  With all due deference to Kazakhstan, I admit that the quality of our education still leaves much to be desired. The opening of Nazarbayev University is a courageous step to make a revolution in our education. However, it is not enough, that’s why we should co-operate with our foreign partners. And here the importance of foreign education crops up. Deferring to foreign experience we can build our educational system. I am glad that Kazakhstan offers its students opportunities for foreign education. I am glad we have Bolashak, Muskie, Fulbright and other programs that conduce to get developed countries’ experience. I am glad we have many foreign professionals contributing to the development of our republic.

As a matter of fact, today we have close co-operation with American speakers: Marinka Franulovic, Harold Samuels, Ann from Cambridge University. The next semester we will have other quests as well. To my mind, such kind of co-operations are important for self-improvement. It makes a great sense to our lessons and I hope that the same will feel our students in future. Through native speakers we can raise their passion for the English language.

In conclusion, I want to say that if a person has a passion he will achieve everything he wishes. It is not a matter of what your parents say or your teachers advise, but what you are passionate for. Nobody knows you better as you yourself do. Bring on the learning revolution! Begin it from yourself! From your students!

Today is a memorable day for Nazarbayev University for Number #1 person of the country paid an official visit to our academic institution. Since the very morning everyone felt excited and all the students helped to organize the meeting with the President of the RK. Everyone was happy, everyone anticipated to see Mr. President. When Nursultan Abishuly entered the atrium everyone greeted him standing and applauding. At least the President came for we expected him to come on student commencement day. Nursultan Abishuly began his speech after a short greeting. I listened with attention and didn’t want to miss anything. To begin with, our President congratulated all the students of the university and told about the idea of opening University that will give international education in Kazakhstan. “WE are lucky” President said “to pass the entrance exams and study there right now.” Out of 4000 students applied to the university  only 484 students were accepted on the results of the exams. In future the University plans to educate 4000 students. It means 10 times more than it is now. The idea of Nazarbayev University ( New University of Astana that time) appeared 5 years ago. Analyzing the amount of money spent to give valuable education Nursultan Nazarbayev decided to open a New University in Astana that would meet all the requirements of foreign education. It will be cheaper to educate the next generation within the borders of home country. It will be sensible. On the other hand, with President and prestigious foreign universities in support I think it will be a temporary hardship on the way of building our own competent education.

Also, President touched upon Bolashak program, as he convinced that beginning from now students won’t go abroad for Bachelor’s degree to study professions offered at Nazarbayev University. The only one exception is the teachers of English language that can go abroad for B.A. by Bolashak. I think it is right. Why do not use the education that home country offers?

The contribution of Bolshak Program to the democratic and economic development of the country is great and so will be of Nazarbayev University’s I hope. The fact that the University was named after N. Nazarbayev proves its importance for the future of Kazakhstan. As Nursultan Nazarbayev said at first he didn’t want the university to have his name, but regarding all the changes happening in the world and the position of Kazakhstan in world trade market, President agreed. Today Kazakhstan plays a great role in the world economy and there is no doubt that the name of Nazarbayev University will back and champion its reputation in the world. Even in his speech today in the atrium the President referred to the University as New University of Astana several times.  

Moreover, President told about the projects on work in various spheres of development and expressed his gratitude to all people of Astana for collaboration in organizing OSCE summit.President shared all the kind and warm words uttered by 55 representatives for succesful and safe meeting. The OSCE summit was a huge step of Kazakhstan to worldwide fame.

Also University students asked their questions to the President making use of his long-waiting visit. One of the students asked: “What faculty would he choose if he was a student of Nazarbayev University?” The answer was explicit – engineering. And the students sitting behind me “wowed”, I guess they were the students of that precise faculty. With this answer President encouraged students to go to engineering faculty for our country lacks those professions. The most interesting case is that one of NU students were given a book by our President when he was 3 months. And now 19 years later that very child studies at the University named after President himself. In the end of his speech President encouraged the students to study hard and make that difference they are expected to do. As the gratitude to Nursultan Abishuly one of our best students ( President’s namesake) thanked him and gave the Declaration of our Nazarbayev University.   

 However, could students imagine that they would see other well-known politicians from the other countries as well?! Such politicians as Gerhard Sheder, Romano Prodi congratulated Kazakhstan with OSCE summit and students with Nazarbayev University. The nice meeting ended with common photo session of President, foreign guests and NU students. So we saw off all the guests and were ready to have hand-shake with them.

Bolashak is an international scholarship awarded for the brightest students of Kazakhstan. “Bolashak”  scholarship was assigned by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, in October, 5, 1993. Owing to the project young generation can det the knowledge in the U.K., the U.S., Denmark, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, China, South Korea and other foreign countries. Many Bolashak graduates hold main positions in state and private organizations in Kazakhstan.

Yesterday I interviewed one of 2010 Bolashak Scholarship winners. Bagnur graduated school with “Altyn belgi” award. The question of higher education arose after her school completion. She was to choose between two potential universities to get her Bachelor Degree – Kazakh British Technical University and Nazarbayev University. At the same time she thought about foreign education and applied for Bolashak Scholarship Program. Bagnur chose the sphere of industrial engineering to pursue her Bachelor Degree in the U.S. Submitting the application in June, 2010 Bagnur received the answer in September, 2010. She was a scholarship winner. However, she went through difficult stages of competition process before she reached the end.

During the competition procedure applications are rejected to nonconformity to the Rules of Selection. The approved applicants undergo Kazakh language test – KazTest. KazTest includes tasks on listening, grammar and reading. Further on, all finalists pass the psychological testing. The sphere of psychological questions comprises logical thinking, abstract thinking, arithmetic tasks and aberrant questions. The applicants are recommended for the Independent Expert Committee based upon the results of the tests. In addition, the efficiency of the essay and IELTS/TOEFL scores are taken into consideration during the admission procedure. According to Bagnur’s opinion, the most responsible and the most difficult stage of competition was IEC Interview. The staff of IEC consists of Ministers, Vice Ministers, members of International Programs Center. One can expect any kind of questions on Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, History of Kazakhstan, Kazakh Literature, Politics from the jury. It is important to get prepared beforehand to such questions as ” Why have you chosen this profession?”, “How do you hope to contribute to the future of Kazakhstan?” IEC is a salient and decisive stage of scholarship admission, it is necessary to demonstrate your confidence, knowledge of the Kazakh and English languages.

Bagnur asserted that IEC Interview was difficult not only for her, but for all other finalists as well. She witnessed the people leaving the room in tears, in joy and in uncertainty. Bagnur says “It is better to get Bachelor Degree in your native language at home. Study abroad is more profitable for Master’s Degree. The privilege of foreign education is in English. English unites the students with different native languages.”

Bagnur is a clever, ambitious girl. She did what many other students fail to do. She won the Bolashak Scholarship. But the point that makes her case unique is that she abdicated it. Today she is a student of the most prestigious university of our country. She is adamant in her future plans, which is promised to be bright.