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Terry Young in Kazakhstan
Terry Young in Kazakhstan
I built this site to share my 27 month experience in Kazakshstan with friends, family and colleagues (as well as with anyone else who might be interested). This site is a mostly uncensored story of my Peace Corps experience. So what you will see on this site is an accurate portrayl of what I am experiencing in Kazakhstan -- the good and the bad.
My Peace Corps experience began on February 29, 2004 and will be complete on May 13, 2006. My assignment is in economic development with an Non Government Organization (NGO). I spent my first 10 weeks in Issyk, one hour from Almaty, for pre-training -- learning Russian, NGO technical training, and as much as possible about Kazakhstani culture. After pre-training, I was sworn in as an an official Peace Corps Volunteer and departed for my two year assignment in Uralsk, Kazakhstan.
Now, I live in Uralsk and I am working for the International Business Center. You can read more about my PC training, my assignment and Uralsk throughout my site. I hope you enjoy your visit to my site and if you have ideas for additions to the site, then send me your thoughts.
application, interviews and clearances
Could joining the Peace Corps be the longest and most bureaucratic process known to man? After 7 months of applications, security clearance, reference letters, and interviews you receive your official nomination. Then, you are ready for medical and dental exams. Yes, you also need to visit the eye doctor and have every legal clearance under the sun. Once this is complete, you need to patiently wait for your final invitation. Here is the PC theory -- If you are not even patient enough to make it through the selection process, then you probably wouldn't survive 27 Months in the Peace Corps. Finally in early September 2003, I received my official invitation inviting me to serve in Kazakhstan, Central Asia. I went straight to the map to identify the exact location and then spent the next few days researching everything that I could find about KZ. The invitation package included a booklet on my assignment, a book on KZ and the official PC manual. I had 10 days to review the material, contemplate the assignment and officially respond to the PC -- It only took me two.
relaxation and preparation
I took all of February as my own personal time to prepare for my PC experience and spend time with friends and family. I spent two weeks relaxing in Koh Samui, Thailand, then I spent the last two weeks of February with my Family in Kentucky. In addition, I had many things that had to be done prior to departure-- prepare taxes, sell my car, store possessions, prepare future care packages, pack for two years and meet the 100 lb. limit. Lastly and most importantly, I just enjoyed every minute with my family, my friends, my dog and everything that is great about the US. I plan to savour those memories.
I made my departure date official the week of November 3, 2003. On one hand it was a relief to finally be able to share my upcoming PC experience with my colleagues and friends, but it was also a difficult week of explaining the decision to everyone. Most people thought it was a great decision at a perfect time in my life;, however, I think there were a few people, that didn't know me very well who just couldn't understand why I wanted to join the Peace Corps. My last day at Targetbase was January 28, 2004. One chapter closed and now I begin to write a new and hopefully life altering chapter about my experience in the PC.
pre-training in issyk
We began our Russian language training at 9AM each morning and we had technical training every afternoon. We were divided into small study groups (my group had 4 students). We studied Russian everyday for 10 weeks (20 hours each week). Our instructors were also our culture teachers and taught us how to acclimate to KZ in general, host family life, and business life. Overall, it was fun and exciting.
living in uralsk
Uralsk is located in the Northwest corner of Kazakhstan near the Russian border (find the Caspian Sea on the map and go straight up). From Almaty and Issyk, it is located nearly 62 hours by train and 3 hours by plane. I arrived in Uralsk on May 17 nth . Uralsk was settled in 1622, and it has a beautiful Pre-Soviet historical downtown. There are approximately 300,000 people who live in Uralsk, and approximately 40% of the population is Russian. Uralsk is situated on the border between Asia and Europe. When you cross the Ural River, you move between Europe and Asia. I live and work in Europe, but can easily get to Asia.
my assignment in uralsk
I am working in Uralsk for the International Business Center. IBC is an NGO that provides support to small and medium size businesses in the West Kazakhstan Oblast. IBC operates 4 major businesses. 1) Business Incubator 2) Internet Cafe 3) Loan Fund 4) Internet Business Project. You can read more about IBC on my assignment page.