Language and Empathy

While studying abroad in Kazakhstan, it has been the first time in my life to live in a multilingual society. Kazakh is the native language, but Russian is widely spoken and understood, as Kazakhstan became a part of the Russian Empire in the 19th century and gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. … Continue reading Language and Empathy


On Birthdays and Celebrations in Kazakhstan

I must admit that I was a little bit apprehensive about living with a Kazakh host family for the summer as a 30-year-old PhD candidate. It is difficult enough to play the appropriate roles when I visit my own parents! But so far, I have had nothing short of an amazing experience. A week into … Continue reading On Birthdays and Celebrations in Kazakhstan

Almaty: Globalization with Style

Along with delight at returning to a country familiar to me from childhood, the overwhelming impression I have had of Almaty, Kazakhstan, since arriving here for the Kazakh language program, is one of vivacious cosmopolitanism and creativity. Perhaps this is in part because of my host family, who kindly welcomed me into a home full … Continue reading Almaty: Globalization with Style

Ya coffee uzhe iship aldim: Learning to speak Kazakhstani in three languages

I've been studying Kazakh for several years now, and I'm impressed by how Kazakh linguists are steadily replacing Russian words with Kazakh ones. While I and local friends mix the two freely, scholars work to separate them, fleshing out Kazakh as a versatile 21st century language, and creating new Kazakh words whenever there's not a … Continue reading Ya coffee uzhe iship aldim: Learning to speak Kazakhstani in three languages