Baltabai (балтабай)

Drum Roll please… The first 9 weeks of my life in Kazakhstan was…. great, frustrating, scary, rewarding, stressful and just AWESOME! It was exactly what I had expected it would be; I knew that being in a Peace Corps volunteer will not be easy and I knew that it would not be all rainbows and unicorns (or butterflies, whatever haha). It would be really awful if anyone was ever thinking that.

Meeting my host mom was exciting because I am ready to just have a bed and sleep, but that is not how it was in the beginning. It wasn’t really bad and we were able to fix everything; it was just a little misunderstanding that was hugely because of our miscommunication. I am now in possession of her house key in case I ever come back down south and needed a place to stay (sweet, right?). She told me that my room is always available and I am going to take advantage of that when I come back this August. She was just the best and I know that I lucked out because she was always supportive. In the culture were girls my age are already married with 2 kids, she did not pry or tried to figure out why I was still single. She told me to focus on my career and that getting married can always wait. Of course, the rest of the village was not that supportive, but it was still nice to have that support behind me.

Now, I will talk  about my training group. I was fortunate enough to have been stuck with the best 9 people I know in a small village. It was great to build a relationship with them when we didn’t have any cafes or anywhere to go. Our laughs and jokes were stuck in the four corners or our language and technical classrooms. We all shared laughs about Will’s tardiness, to my not so sound and foundation lacking outhouse, Brett’s nicknames, Liz’ old woman character, Andrew’s lack of enthusiasm about everything, Martha’s noises, Matt’s humor, Katya’s cousin, Ben’s 1st Banya (баня) experience, and Brian’s love for music. We all created a circle of friendship in Baltabai and even though we didn’t have any internet we were able to keep sane for that whole 9 weeks. I had the greatest time with these 9 people because they were so open and there was no judgment. I didn’t think that it was possible to fall in love with 9 different people at the same time, but I was proven wrong. I think that my experience would have been different if I was placed in another village or town and frankly I was and still am happy for being with my group. We had no drama and we were all each others’ cheerleaders. We were all there for each other when we experienced Dr. Victor’s roller coaster ride. I will never trade the last 9 weeks of my life for anything because I was truly happy with my friends!

We were also very fortunate to have gotten 3 of the best supporters and teachers in PST. I had an awesome time with my Russian teacher, Zarina and Amantai Apai was sneaky with how she was trying to teach me Kazakh every time I go to her classroom. Vera our technical facilitator is someone you would want to be behind you because she will raise hell when anyone accuses us of not working.

The last 9 weeks was so long, hard and frustrating, but it was worth it because I had the best kids anyone could ask for. I had two 5th grade classes and they were the cutest things ever! They were so eager to learn and were just so sweet. On my last day, I was given a lot of gifts and I will forever treasure those gifts. I hope that my kids would try and really learn English because when I come back here in KZ I would like to see them again.

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