Life on the Other Side of the World has fallen into a sometimes hum-drum pattern; work, eat, sleep, repeat.

Charles’ students are, for the most part, like college students everywhere; some are enthusiastic learners, and others are more into playing at learning. He is able to get some good discussions going, especially when the subjects are about daily life and country.

In-service training takes place this weekend at a resort on the north shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. Grant writing figures prominently in the schedule. A full report of the weekend and what the area is like will follow as soon as a dispatch arrives. Unfortunately, with Charles untethered from the real world this weekend, he can’t follow his beloved KU Jayhawks as they play in the NCAA basketball “Road to the Final Four”. GO JAYHAWKS!

An exciting aspect of living on the Other Side of the World is that Charles has been able to celebrate the New Year not once, not twice, but THREE times! The first time would be the traditional Western New Year on January 1st. A second New Year based on the old Julian calendar is celebrated on January 14th. Just this past week, the third celebration of the New Year took place with the coming of the Vernal Equinox and the Muslim holiday of Nooruz. What a wonderful world multi-ethnicity presents. Charles’ host family started eating at about 12:30 and the party stopped around 9:30 with guests of all sorts coming in and going out of the house all day long.

When Charles prepares a meal for the family, he has learned that the blander the food is the better. What Charles does not understand is why there is a wonderful selection of spices available in the bazaars and who could possibly be using them!

March is March no matter where in the Northern Hemisphere you are; if you don’t like it, wait...it will change. Clouds and mist have factored highly in the Bishkek weather forecast.

If you are interested in the traditional Kyrgyz shyrdaks and other felted wool goods please check out the Central Asia Crafts Support Association; linking to them through this page is not possible so type the name into your favorite internet search engine and go from there. They have a very easy to use and read web site. What is shown is only a small sample of what is available. A fellow K-11 PCV, Elba Bermudez, is helping with their economic development plans.

     posted by Megan Harkness-Madole at 2:55 PM  |  

The plea for books has garnered much response. Charles is expecting to be inundated with books as many of you have responded in the affirmative to cleaning off your bookshelves and sending books to those in need of English language help. M-bags are the way to go to send books to the Other Side of the World. A surface mail M-bag will cost about a dollar per pound vs. the more than 3 dollars a pound for regular surface mail. At this time of year mail is moving quite quickly (an air mail package takes two weeks instead of almost three). A few boxes have all ready arrived and Charles can't wait to introduce these books to his classes.

Charles is finding it quite difficult to make headway in teaching English Composition to students that he sees once a week and for whom even conversation can be a chore. Unfortunately all bureaucracies are alike and change is slow.

Dr. Seuss, whose 100th birthday was just celebrated, is being introduced to Kyrgyzstan via Charles' poetry class. He has obtained a couple of Seuss books and some things off of the internet.

Charles is being kept busy outside of class by doing some outside tutoring; one in conversational English, the other in composition, neither are regular students of his. He has also gotten a group of students together for an English language club. A group of hemophiliacs is going to benefit from computer instruction; there is not much that can be done in a developing country by those with this life threatening disease so this training gives them useful skills.

The end of March will bring in-service training. Charles will get this opportunity to see more of the country as it is scheduled to be held at Lake Issyk-Kul. If you have been reading this blog since the beginning you may remember that Charles was supposed to visit there back in October but didn't get the chance. IST will also allow him to reconnect with some of the other PCVs whom he does not get to see all that often as they are out in area villages. Those PCVs that are in Bishkek regularly see each other.

International Women's Day was celebrated at both the University and at the PC office. Parties involved soft-drink toasts and token gifts, especially at the University where Charles is one of three men in a faculty group of 40! Most of Bishkek was closed in observation of the holiday.

Charles' birthday was spent having dinner with a fellow PCV who reminds him of Megan and then on to the only American style bar for a large group gathering with other PCVs in the Bishkek area. As Charles is by far the oldest member of the group, he kidded them with the thought that as he was now surrounded by his grandchildren they could all tell him how wonderful he is and give him a kiss on the cheek. Several of them complied!

His English language group is just as enthralled as the rest of the world by Harry Potter. Charles has a copy of the latest HP book on tape and has started playing it for spoken practice. He has gotten several comments after cutting it off at an hour, "Is that all we will listen to today?". Charles finds the work with the hemophiliacs rewarding but draining. He is having to go from the very beginning on the keyboard with them.
     posted by Megan Harkness-Madole at 11:14 PM  |  


Charles In