Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 19

Before heading off to visit Julia today, we went to the Air Astana office in town and purchased our tickets from Ust K to Almaty for next Weds. So at least now we have our foot in the door to the way home!

When we got to the orphanage, the room we usually visit Julia in was locked up and no one seemed able to find the key. Since I've been wanting to see more of the school anyway, I thought this was the perfect time to ask if Julia could show us around. In contrast to how things went down in Ridder when I asked the same question, we receieved a personal tour of the school from the head teacher. At first, not wanting to intrude or disrupt anything, I felt a bit awkward, but it was apparent from the start that they were very proud of this school and wanted to show it off to the visiting Amyerikanzas. They showed us a wall display that featured pictures of some of the older students tending vegetable and flower gardens (in warmer weather, of course!). I asked if Julia does any of the gardening, but they don't get that responsibility till they're much older. Though Julia's class tends to the houseplants inside the school. We walked past a stage area where the students give performances, and there were a few ping-pong tables with children playing. They took us into several classrooms in session. When we walked in, the children all promptly and quietly stood at their desks till told to be seated again (American students could learn a thing or two about order from this school!). The teacher would then tell us what they were working on and show us some examples of their work. There were only about 8 - 10 kids per classroom, Borya and Julia are in for a shock when they see their classes back home! The little ones were sooooo cute! The 1st and 2nd forms (which translates to 2nd and 3rd grade) wear uniforms, though the older kids do not. All the children look clean and well-dressed and the girls all have their hair beautifully braided and bowed by their caregivers. We then went on to see the woodworking shop for the boys, and the sewing rooms for the girls. The girls learn to sew by hand, by machine, and also some embroidery. They have sponsors that donate fabric, and once the girls have mastered the skills, they make some of the clothes for the students at the school.

The teacher also explained to us that the children set the tables for their meals. After lunch, the children have homework/studying time, some playtime, then dinner. Then they help clean the school before bedtime, which is at about 8pm. There are about 200 children at this school, from age 8 - about 16. Their schooling includes training in trades, as mentioned above, which is different than it was five yrs ago (or at least, so I had been told). I didn't get to see Julia's sleeping area b/c it was locked up. Maybe another time. All in all I was very impressed by this school. It looks like a pleasant place for her to have spent the last two or three years (prior to that she was in the Preschool Orphanage, where I met Bella and Borya, though I hadn't seen her when she was there).

It was snowing today. Started sometime during the night and kept up pretty steadily all day. I'd say we have maybe 6" on the ground. Of course our translator showed up in high-heeled boots. I just had to ask her how all the Kazakhstani women manage to wear such high heels in the ice and snow. She said it actually helps to wear them because the spiked heel digs into the ice and keeps them from slipping. Kind of like an ice pick. You know what? That actually makes sense to me. Have I maybe been here too long?


Diana and Bob said...

Americans could learn a thing or two from the Kazakhs. Great description of the school/children's home!

markkris said...

I loved your description of the orphanage. We are working on our paperwork to adopt one of the girls from that orphanage. As you probably remember we are anxious for any info we can get.

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