Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kazakh Culture

During our second stay here in Kokshetau, we have had a chance to get to experience a bit of the Culture/Arts. Makhabbat, one of the interpreters that works for the (town of) Shchuchinsk families, has made it her personal mission to help us experience these things. She doesn't work for us at all, but we met her through one of the other families and we have formed a wonderful friendship. She also loves the fact that Dave practices his Russian with her:-)

On the first night we returned to Kokshetau, I went with Makhabbat, Scott and D'Ann to a dance/music recital at the Performing Arts Center (photos by Scott). The performers ranged from around 5 years old to adults. The boys and girls, men and women danced in beautiful costumes to many different types of Kazakh music. There were several singers and musicians as well. It was a great experience of local arts.

On Saturday Oct 24th, Dave and some of the
other families went to the local Pro Soccer game.
It was more like a Semi-pro or Minor league
type game. Lots of activity and excitement and
cooler weather!

As part of the sharing of culture, Makhabbat asked us to go to her daughter's gymnastics class and share some our Halloween traditions. Of course we agreed. So, I went with LeAnne and we watched about an hour of the practice. It was very intense. The girls were between 6 and 12 years old. The coach was very nice, but also very strict and intense. You could tell the girls had great respect for her and what she was teaching them. The coach was a Russian woman and the children were a mix of Kazakh and Russian. They all attend school at the English immersion school, so they all spoke a little English. After practice was over, we gave them a handout in Russian explaining the history of Halloween that Makhabbat put together. When we told them we were going to show them pictures on the computer of children in costumes, they swarmed around me and the computer. They were so cute and excited. I was able to show them pictures of Michael, Daniel and Joseph in their costumes from last year. They got a kick out of it!! When we were done, we passed out candy and they were definitely like kids in a candy store - including the coach!

That night, Halloween night, we had people over to the cottage for a little Halloween celebration. Not that we ever have a Halloween party at home, but Makhabbat wanted to celebrate the "American" holiday, so we obliged. Several people carved a pumpkin; we roasted the seeds and the Kazakh's dressed up in costumes:-)

Lastly, on Sunday night we had a celebration for one of the families who headed to court on Tuesday for custody of their twin boys.
There were 4 adoptive families along with Makhabbat, Oleg (a driver for families several years ago), Vera (his wife) and their family. Makhabbat arranged to have 3 young ladies come over and play the Dombra, their national instrument. The young ladies were about 18 years old and did a great job. They played traditional Kazakh music for about 45 minutes.
It was a lot of fun and everyone had a wonderful time. We had Borscht, a traditional Russian soup, made with beets, cabbage, meat, and lots of veggies and also ordered the local Pork Shish-kabobs - YUM! For desert we had lots of yummy cookies and cakes. The Kazakhs certainly know how to do the pastries - very delicious but not too sweet.
All of these events have added to the enjoyment of being in Kathryn's birth country and has also helped to keep us busy during this waiting period. We have only posted a few of the photos here and will enjoy showing you all of them when we return home. Kathryn will also enjoy them when she is old enough.

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