This is me and my host sister, Aidana. We are standing in front of Кок Тебе which is an amusement park in the mountains in which you take a Gondola ride to get to the top. It is a well-known sight in Almaty, Kazakhstan. There is a car filled with apples in the picture. The name Almaty is said to be derived from the Kazakh world for “apple” (алма), and people have told me that the first apple was found in Kazakhstan. I couldn’t have asked for a better host sister, and I am so grateful to have spent most of my time here with her.
We have celebrated many Kazakh holidays, but this day we celebrated Halloween with our friends here in Almaty. To my right is my one of my best friends here, Айнел. We all love the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, so we decided to dress up as the characters. She has helped me so much throughout my time here by constantly hanging out with me and speaking Russian.
This is me along with the rest of the American Councils students with Karibek Kuyukov. He is an artist and a nuclear nonproliferation activist born without arms because of his parents’ exposure to radiation from nuclear testing. We were able to see all his amazing works that he painted using his mouth instead of hands.
This is my language partner Victoria. She is such a lovely person who dedicates hours to help explain the complicated grammar of the Russian language. She’s always prepared to give me 20-page handouts (: We love to go to bars and coffee shops to hang out.
Tusau kesu is a holiday when a baby boy takes his first steps. My host family invited me to the huge feast that took place in a small town two hours north of Almaty. We ate and danced, and I had the courage to toast in front of the entire family. The ceremony was done so that in the future the baby could walk confidently and run fast.
This was a cold winter night in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. The city was very futuristic and interesting to walk around at night. However, the city is pretty new and not nearly as energetic and populated as Almaty, but I hope to come back in the future and see how much it has changed.
By: Tania Smith
Program: Advanced Russian Language & Area Studies Program Almaty, Kazakhstan
Term: Fall 2019