I’ve heard many times expats in our country telling us as a joke that their friends and relatives back in their land didn’t even know where Kazakhstan is located. A week ago I had a business trip to NIS in Semey city. I was sent there to conduct seminars at orientation period for foreign teachers who came fo a year (for now, as some of then told me). I had, and really believe that the teachers also had, a very interesting time in Semey. I conducted 4 days workshops, 3 of which we sat inside the school, had ordinary classes, on the last day we had a trip around the city. Luckily, the organizational work of that school administration was excellent, and I had no problems concerning the seminars. Everything was ready when I arrived (and it was nearly midnight) a teacher with his car met me and brought to a hotel, one room in which was booked for me beforehand. When I got to school the next day, a classroom with all of the things I requested earlier (papers, computer and printer, IWB, etc) was ready for us to start the seminars. I had 4 trainees who came from the US and Britain. The thing I want to tell here is that one of the foreign teachers was really afraid of coming here (nevertheless he did it) because of all the wrong information written on the internet about Semey. He confessed that when he arrived he was looking for sick people, “really sick people” who became sick after the bomb testing in that area. And he was surprised to see all the nice and sound people whom he happened to meet. Personally, I was not surprised, because if you google the word Semipalatinsk, mainly you get the information related to the nuclear testing in Semey and its consequences, shocking stories and photos. Now our teachers know that people in Semey are normal people like in any part of the world )))
Semey is the land where our distinguished poet and philosopher Abay Kunanbayev was born. it is located in the Eastern Kazakhstan. The city is old and the buildings mostly come from the Soviet period. The houses, the buildings and the roads need a lot of repair work. I hope that the local government is working on that. One thing that Semey people can boast about is a newly built brigde across the river Ertis (or Irtysh). I also would advise those people, who are planning to go to this city, to visit the river side and its Biology Park. The park is amazing. I’ve never seen a zoo that big (though I can’t tell that I saw lots of them). Beautiful birds, from little rats to big bears. Despite all the fun we had there, I really worry about the habitants of that zoo, because they are living no proper life there: in a little cage, no freedom, no wildness. There was a monkey who was continuously jumping at us, as asking us to let him out. Also I wonder where do they live in winter. Because winters there are as severe as in Astana. But that’s what happens all the time: if you want something beautiful, something nice, you need to sacrifice with something. So those animals are there to bring pleasure to the visitors, especially children. And I hope that the local teachers of Biology use the expositions of that zoo in educational purposes.