This past weekend (Friday and Saturday), we had a professional development opportunity with teachers visiting Atyrau from Aktau, Astana, and Almaty. We learned about a variety of topics, from the QSI method of grading, to teaching Intensive English to our students, to leveling books. It was a good chance, particularly for the new teachers, to network and learn more about what is happening in QSI/Kazakhstan.
On Saturday afternoon, we went as a group to a Kazakh restaurant. The restaurant serves primarily traditional fare. It is a bit ironic that in one of our professional development sessions that highlighted teaching Intensive English, we were asked to create lists of food that we like, and food that we don’t like. My list of food that I don’t like consisted of two items – onions and insects. But I can officially say that after my meal at the Kazakh restaurant, I doubled my list of foods I dislike. First, let me add fermented camel milk. Frankly, it tastes like fizzy vomit. I drank it, but oh man, it just didn’t suit me at all. Second, there is an after dinner candy that is also made from milk (mare’s milk I believe) that is just as bad. It too tastes like vomit, only in a solid form.
Having said that, the rest of the food was really good, and distinct from food I have had elsewhere. My comments here are in no way meant to be a negative reflection of a culture that I find to have overwhelmingly positive qualities.
After the food was over, we ran into a bunch of local people who had just attended a wedding in a wedding hall upstairs. As the teacher group posed for a picture in the front of a hotel, one of the wedding patrons was standing right in the middle of our picture. I am not sure he even realized it. I tried to make a joke of it. Anne, one of our teachers, took this picture. I have no idea who this man is, but the two groups had a great time for a couple of minutes after that. Quite fun.