Sunday, November 2, 2008

Omar, The Kyrgyz Star!!!

For the last week it has been overcast with light rains and dropping temperatures, for me it has been a nasty foreshadow of the long, cold winter to come. The winter has all of Kyrgyzstan in knots; at work we talk about how cold the office will be without electricity, many Kyrgyz schools are planning on extending winter holiday for a month because the classrooms get so cold, and at the American Corner, where I lead four of my English clubs, they talk about the promises that President Bakiv has made on public television which “guarantees” the elimination of power cuts during the winter. As a volunteer I have been praying for electricity and bundling up really well! I haven’t pulled out my thermal underwear yet, but I would say give it less than a month before those little butt-warmers become a crucial accessory to my outfit every day and every night.

Despite the approach of winter, life has gone on. I have started some outreach programs with American schools in attempts to exchange culture between students. The first one is World Wise Schools, where I have been matched up with a middle school teacher in Houston, TX and we have classroom exchanges. I have also started investigating a program called One World where I could collect 30 pieces of art that has been made by Kyrgyz school kids with national themes in it, mail it off to the states, and in return I would receive 30 different pieces of art that American students made with an American theme to it. I think that is a really fun and expressive way to exchange cultures.

Even with the establishment of routines and habits here, I still have to just sit back and laugh at some of the situations I find myself in. The most recent shenanigan I muddled into was last Thursday. After a long, cold walk home through the rain I received a phone call from one of the students from my English club. Confused, I picked up the phone and was informed by them that they had bought me a ticket to Omar’s (a Kyrgyz pop star) concert that was taking place in less than an hour. The water for my tea had just started to boil and as flattered as I was there was a significant part of me that just wanted to stay home and enjoy my tea rather than trek back through the gloomy day to go meet my students again. But I turned the gas off and left to go see Omar perform at the local theatre.
It turned out to be quite the event! Compliments to the lights swirling around and the disco balling reflecting little squares of color through out the theater I started having flash backs to my 8th grade dances as I walked in. But that stopped real fast when the performance opened with two Russian dancers jumping around on stage to 50 cent in Lakers’ jerseys. They were followed by a lip-synching Kyrgyz singer and an MC who was up on stage apparently telling joke after joke which I couldn’t understand for the life of me! Eventually Omar, the main guy, came on stage with a big pair of sunglasses on and sang three or four songs. He sang about half in Kyrgyz and then a couple in Russian and even one in English! I’m not going to lie; he even had me swooning with his English song! As he finished his last song the MC jumped back up on stage and continued with his antics, he had the whole crowd in stitches! Over the course of the next couple of hours several more Kyrgyz singers got up on stage and Omar returned to the stage for a couple more songs. While he was on stage, young women would walk up to him and hand him a bouquet of flowers or a little note on which they had confessed their undying love for him. He graciously took each bouquet of flowers and each note and gave each young woman a hug and peck on the cheek and then went right back to singing. It was quite a show and I was glad I attended. My students had been great and had walked me through the concert explaining what was going on and which song they loved the most!

I can only imagine what this week has in store for me! Tomorrow I am attending an Uzbek wedding, I’m really looking forward to the food, Uzbeks are said to be the best cooks in the country! Also this is election week so a bunch of the volunteers are going to the American Center in Osh and spending the night so we can watch the elections live! We’ll see if there is power to do that!

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