Location: Uralsk, Kazakhstan

My address! Rachael Schmidt 106 Dimitrieva St. P.O Box 56 Uralsk 417 000 Kazakhstan

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

It's raining!

Hi Everyone!
So how's the weather in your neck of the woods. It's raining here, and boy can it rain in Uralsk. Last time I got caught in the rain, the streets and sidewalks were flooded in a matter of minutes. And by minutes I mean not very many! So, I was supposed to meet some other volunteers and had to journey through the newly and quickly formed swamps. I was doing on ok, until I fell in a ditch and was completely submerged in water. Uhg!! Live and learn. Still met the friends and still managed to drink my way dry.
Anyway, just thinking of you all and this time I really do promise to send a more detailed update. Till then, stay dry and remember someone in Kazakhstan is thinking of you!!!
much love,

P.S I've received some replies from this site but I can't send you a reply back. So to those people, I just want to say thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to say hello. I really appreciate that! And especially to Nikki in Hawaii. I tried to find your friends site and a place to leave a comment for you. No luck!! Could you possibly give me you email??

Friday, September 10, 2004

Hi Everyone!
Greetings from the “far side” of the world. And what an absurd world this is! But, I promised not to complain too much in this particular email. On that note, I even have some good news!! Yippee!! I finally found out my address! It only took 3 weeks! What was I worried about. Anyway, it’s at the end of this email. I think it would be easiest just to print it out and slap in on an envelope or care package. (subtle hint!!) Well, since you brought it up, yes! send care packages!! And, to get two birds with one stone, my good friend Tom came up with a brilliant idea!! This is a rally call to help the unfortunate university students of Uralsk, Kazakhstan! Each class consists of about 10 students. If you’re feeling rather inspired and/or generous please send books! Just about anything will do. Preferably standard American literature. You have no idea how this would make my life, well, let’s just say it would make my life!!
As of tomorrow I will have completed my first 2 weeks of teaching. Funny, I certainly don’t feel like a teacher. But, some of the students can actually understand some of what I say. My personal favorite is when I ask a question and all I get is blank stares. No, really! I love that!! It’s actually easier for them to understand a Russian speak poor and/or incorrect English than it is for them to understand me. Guess I’ll just have to fail each and every one of them! NOT!!
Their grading system doesn’t receive a very high grade in my book. It’s based on a system of 1-5; 5 being the highest. Since I have no bloody idea how I’m supposed to grade them, I’ve decided everyone gets a 5 unless they piss me off! So basically, come to class and pretend to understand and the American will give you a 5. Not a bad deal. I just pray they learn something!!
For the most part I really love these people. But, (and no! I’m not complaining) you would not believe all the pushing, shoving, and cutting in lines that takes place here! There’s been a few times I’ve come close to saying something, not that they would understand. If you’re in someone’s way, don’t worry, they’ll literally push you out of the way. Or if your walking and they are in your way, either push ‘em or walk around ‘em. And yes, I walk around them!!
The host family is doing well. Although I think we’ll all be doing better once I’m no longer living with them! Just my humble opinion. An opinion that may come back to haunt me. Based on what the peace corps pays, I’ll be living in the slums of Uralsk! But, I want to live alone. So that’s life.
Went to my first Kazak concert last night. It was their local orchestra. Not bad at all. Looking forward to hearing more of that. Music, a language I can actually understand! Learned a bit more about the Kazak people there as well. Many came in late. And no, you don’t need to wait for a break in the music. Just come on in, and talk to your friends while looking for a seat. No programs. Before each composition someone announces what they will be playing and the composer. I found it all rather interesting and am thrilled that there are some fantastically talented musicians here in Uralsk!
Tomorrow is Saturday and I have to teach!! Being the new kid on the block I get the least desirable class times and days. Oh well, it’s not like I actually mind staying home on a Friday night!! Just have to make up for it on Saturday night!!
I hope you’re all doing well. Thank you so much for your love, prayers, energy, emails, and letters. I honestly would not be able to handle all this without you!!

See you soon!!!
Much love,

Rachael Schmidt Рэтчил Шмидт
106 Dimitrieva St. Ул. Дмитриева 106, Бокс 56
P.O Box 56 ОАО Казпочта
Uralsk 417 000 Уральст 417 000
Kazakhstan Казахстан