Nauryz is a traditional holiday of all Turkic countries. It is the beginning of a new year in our calendars. It symbolizes refreshment after long winter months. In different Turkic countries it is called differently, but sounds close. The nature awakes in these days and people start celebrating the holiday. There are many attributes of the holiday: people prepare national food called “Nauryz kozhe” ( “kozhe” means “soup” in Kazakh), wear traditional clothes, organize national games competitions, build “altybakan”( “swings” in English”), and sing national songs, dance and play.

It was my first Nauryz in Astana this year. I am not from that type of people, who prefer sit at home and watch everything on TV. Actually, my uncle IS. He prefers to spend time at home instead of going here and there: visiting the places with different national show programs. In comparison with my uncle, I am quite different. So, my aunt, my three-year old brother spent a nice day among Kazakh “KYIZ UIs” (old Kazakh house).

We visited Kazakh “village” near Bayterek, watched Kazakh wrestling, listened to Kazakh national songs and tried many national foods. However, I couldn’t try Nauryz kozhe this year. I was completely absorbed by the things happening around me that I totally forgot about it. How could I?! It seems even impossible when we celebrate Nauryz. It is a tradition in each family to prepare Nauryz kozhe and invite relatives and neighbours. As a matter of fact, my mom prepares Nauryz kozhe each year, and each yera we have quests at home to the holiday. The same does every family in our village. Sometimes, we even have several people to invite us for Nauryz kozhe. That’s why it seems ridiculus not to try the main food of the holiday. When my mom herad about it, she was surprised and said that she will prepare it for me especially when I go home on holidays.

Despite missed Nauryz kozhe, the day was full of joy and fun, especially for my little brother, who has seen everything for the first time.

Here he is in front of one of the beautiful kyiz uis.

Behind is Kazakh “batyr” (warrior), who used to fight with the enemies of the land and, at the same time, guard houses of khans. Their appearance  feared invaders of the Kazakh land, and my brother also.

Here you can see people in national Kazakh costumes.

In the middle we are as the representatives of modern Kazakhstan.

Here we are enjoying the the holiday in Astana.

In other words, everyone celebrated Nauryz all over Kazakhstan. Even President put off all his business and visited one of the events to congratulate people with spring holiday of equinox.

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Last month I participated in Exchange Photo Contest offered by Exchange Connect. And today, searching in the internet after a winter holiday season, I found out the results were announced. To tell you the truth, I didn’t think about winning the contest, but today, opening the results I, somehow, hoped it might be “Astana” – a postcard from Kazakhstan. But it wasn’t. Two winners were from Pakistan and the USA.

This is “Flying bubbles” by Mary S. from the US. Mary is a medical photographer who works at the Medical Center in the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. She always has a camera in hand so that she can capture everything from a butterfly taking flight, to a patient’s progress, to a doctor performing miracles.

I should admit that their photos are really meaningful comparatively. Especially, I liked a postcard from Palestine –  “Frames” by Majdal N. PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES. I read about her from Exchange connect. ” Majdal is a 22-year-old journalism student who hopes to continue her studies in cinematography. Her love of photography and travel started when she was a 15-year-old exchange student in the U.S. She enjoys ExchangesConnect because it reminds her of her exchange program, where she met one of her best friends from Germany.” The comments that you write to your photo are very important, because, at once, nobody can understand the idea you are persuading.

I think, Majdal’s success lies here:

“Frame 1: the television set
Frame 2: the photo frame
Frame 3: the kid’s imitation
Frame 4: the wall that frames every Palestinian’s life”

Now the turn for you to decide if she deserves to be a winner or not. For me, it is art to show your country in a good light even if it is not famous for sparkling buildings reaching the sky.

The meaning of international exchange is wide and what you see right now is a part of a huge intersharing system. Here are the photos of Kazakhstan participated in Exchange Photo Contest. They are not excellent, but there are photos that, truly, a postcard from Kazakhstan.

This is my home – Astana. Despite -40-(-45) degrees in winter, nothing keeps me warmer than capital of my country. ( This is one of the top-rated photos: 5 stars out of five and it is mine))

This is a photo from Ust-Kamenogorsk. Kazakh cap, Kazakh dog, dog and real Kazakh winter.

Eagles are perfect assistants in one of the ancient ways of hunting in Kazakhstan.

This dance is very popular in Kazakhstan. Adults, children, young people can not imagine any Kazakh holiday without “Kara jorga”. The dance is the best way to show my country’s culture.

The old town – Turkestan.

 Seems like two seasons found harmony in this place near Belukha.

This photo symbolizes а home for me. Home – it is the parents looking at you with eyes full of love, care and expectation. Home – this is a hand of the people with corn out of doing heavy works on land with a hope for better future for their children. Home this is a Kazakh endless steppe – silent and patient witness of charity and cruelty of human being and the history. Home – is a horses that used to be faithful and indispensable friends of nomad people and symbolizing freedom, diligence and tenacity. ( The author comments)

So, you see that there are many things can be told about Kazakhstan. Sharing these photos with you I want to stress that each participant wanted to share his meaning of home with other participants of the International Exchange. Especially for you, Voice from Kazakhstan!

This  and the next years are promised to be successful for Kazakhstan for we have OSCE on December, 1-2, 2010 and we tend to organize and hold the Seventh Asian Winter Games in Astana-Almaty from January, 30 till February, 6, 2010. Both events bear grandiose importance to the country as well to the people who are responsible for it. Realizing this fact and being a patriot of my country I decided to partake in Asian Winter games. With a burden to support my country in such kind of assiduous task I became a volunteer of SWAG in Astana. It is my first time when I participate in world event and surely I feel excited. I hope I will get more experience of working in a world level, find more new friends in Kazakhstan and in foreign countries as well. It makes me feel happy, I anticipate for the beginning of the games. I think that success of this Asian games partially depends upon us – volunteers! Volunteer is an image and the first impression of the country. That’s why we should do our utmost to demonstrate our republic from the good sides. It is due to us how other countries will remember Kazakh people, what their opinion about our ability will be. It is a hard, but at the same time a rewarding job. To my mind, such kind of events are push-ups to the further development and recognition in world economy.

However, finding the right volunteers to represent the status of the republic is a difficult and responsible task. The function of the organization committee is not only to fill the rows of potential and want-to-be volunteers, but to develop them, to prepare them to any unexpected situations and to teach them how to cope with definite barriers during the games. The process of becoming a volunteer requires passing application, psychological training and accreditation processes. All of them are very important and here I would like to share my feelings from the first day of psychological training.

Psychological training is a process of releasing your inner world, a process that helps you to break the walls of mistrust, a process that motivates to believe in your abilities, to show your strengths, to attenuate your weaknesses. My psychological training has begun today. It lasted only for two hours, but the time passed very quick. To tell my truth I didn’t expect anything unusual from it, I accepted it formal, must-to-be meeting. However, it was much better, I dare say super! First of all, we introduced ourselves ( there were only 7 of us) and then we played a rather interesting game called ‘iceberg’. The point of the game is to unite people unfamiliar with each other to reach a common purpose. The rule of the game was to stand unitedly on small pieces of paper and do not let anybody from your ‘friends’ to fell out. Amazing!

Furthermore, iceberg was followed by switching the roles games. We formed pairs and told about ourselves to our partners in a span of five minutes and vice versa listened to them during the next five minutes. Then we told everything that we found out about our friend intending to be that person himself. It was funny to hear your story from the other person. Really funny! After we listened to not less interesting lecture on the theme of reproductive systems and watched a cartoon about the way our organs function. In the end each one shared their feelings about the training and were grateful  to spend to the staff of the center.

On my part, I can say that I am really happy that I enrolled in Asian games as a volunteer. I consider it as a way full of pleasant adventures. Our psychological training will last for five days. And I am looking forward for the next meeting…..