Sunday, July 7, 2013


Yes, it's Taldykorgan.  And no, it's not a word in Klingon.  It's a city in southeastern Kazakhstan, close to the Chinese border.  It's a city of about 140,000 people on the Asian Steppe, and that is where Jim and I are now headed, now that our mission in Tonga is done.  We leave Tonga on Monday, July 15th, and fly to umpty-ump places before flying out of the country again on August 14th.

So it's off to Kazakhstan, where the winters are long and cold, but the people are sturdy and hardworking - I have a feeling the San Luis Valley of Colorado will have prepared us well for this country.  I love the translation of the city name "Taldykorgan" - it means Castle of Birches.  I get this feeling like I'm stepping into a Russian fairy tale.

We will be working at a school taught in English, and we will each be partnered with a Kazakh teacher.  We have been hired as mentor teachers, and we will work together with our Kazakh partners to help them learn effective teaching strategies.  Mmm.  That's a little scary - but we had nearly two years in Tonga to learn how to tell teachers to do it better, so this is a logical next step, showing teachers how to do it better.  Time to put our money where our mouth is, as it were.

One of the nice parts about moving to a new part of the world in this day and age is that you can take look at it before you get there.  We have spent not a few hours looking over the school, the city, and the country where we will be living next.  Here's a few shots:

Classic architecture

Feats of strength - and foolishness

Traditional skills - falcon hunting

Western and Kazakh musicians playing together.  

Should be fascinating.  I don't know if I'll find time to post again before we get there, but I promise to be in touch.