I suppose one thing to mention is the structure of my family. I live in a nice middle class home in a village. My family of 4 has one Turkish parent and one Russian parent. I was glad to see that in Kazakhstan there are many families of "mixed" family origins. Something else I learned is that people in Kazakhstan do not classify themselves as Asian or by their skin color. It seems that in the US we categorize people by geography or skin color but here what really matters is your family origin. Turkish, Polish, Russian, etc. So they know I am American and what state my family is from but they want to know where we are "from." So then I have to explain the loose coctail of German, Irish, English, Cherokee or whatever I am. That doesn't really translate well because I don't have any connections to those cultures or languages. So that is one difference.
The dynamic of my family is very loud and passionate. It is sort of like the way Americans portray large "Italian" families on TV. The gender roles here are strongly linked to the origin of the family. For example, the daughters in my family have a bit more freedom because they have a Turkish and Russian parent. It appears to be that girls who have only Turkish parents might have a stricter set of freedoms or limitations. Also, we don't have a grandmother living in the house. I have heard that in that case the grandmother (maybe grandfather) has the final say in terms of letting the daughters go out or whatever. This is of course only an observation and not a rigid fact. In all families that I have seen thus far, the women of the house do all cooking, serving, refilling, cleaning, laundry, and food preparation. I have heard from locals that there are some parts of Kazakhstan that have a more equally distributed view of the household chores between men and women. But what I am used to seeing is men being served, given seconds, and their dishes are washed by the women of the house. As a guest, a long term guest, I have a strange in between role. As a guest I am treated more like a male because I am a guest. I am served, my dishes are cleaned, washed, etc. But as a "long term guest" I try....and am sort of allowed....to do my share of housework. As time passes I am able to be more helpful. Basically I handwash any clothes I want to hand wash / dry, I iron my own clothes, prepare my breakfast / lunch sometimes, I serve my own food / beverages sometimes, I do the dishes in secracy when I am the only one in the house or early in the morning. But I am trying to sync into their routine
My family has a big German Shepherd dog and it loves to play fetch - but didn't have a ball. So when we went into town today I got a tennis ball kind of thing. Well.....the second I gave it to him he got really excited but didn't actually want to fetch. He just wanted to try and eat the ball. So hopefully he liked it but didn't actually ruin the ball 5 seconds after I gave it to him.
That's all for now....Megan
Kazakhstan Fun Fact:
When in class, you never "point" to the board or visual aid with your pointer finger. You have to use a "pointer." For example, a pen, ruler, etc.
Peace Corps Blog.
click above to play a traditional Kazakh song that I really like called the Karajorga. It is very popular and there is a traditional dance that is performed with it as well.
March 8, 2011 -
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