July 11, 2004: Headlines: COS - Kyrgyzstan: Writing - Kyrgyzstan: Denver Post: In "This is not Civilization" teaching English to cheese factory workers who expect instant results with no effort proves to be daunting

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kyrgyzstan: Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan : The Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan: July 11, 2004: Headlines: COS - Kyrgyzstan: Writing - Kyrgyzstan: Denver Post: In "This is not Civilization" teaching English to cheese factory workers who expect instant results with no effort proves to be daunting

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-22-73.balt.east.verizon.net - 141.157.22.73) on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 7:17 pm: Edit Post

In "This is not Civilization" teaching English to cheese factory workers who expect instant results with no effort proves to be daunting

In This is not Civilization teaching English to cheese factory workers who expect instant results with no effort proves to be daunting

In "This is not Civilization" teaching English to cheese factory workers who expect instant results with no effort proves to be daunting

"This Is Not Civilization," by Robert Rosenberg (Houghton Mifflin, 293 pages, $24)

In Rosenberg's intriguing and often witty debut novel, two cultures a half a world apart, surrounded by inept government officials and schemers on the make, find themselves at the crossroads of extinction.

The town of Red Cliff is on the Red Mountain Apache Reservation, 30 miles from Phoenix. In the late 1990s, a teen center occupies the abandoned movie theater in the town's single burnt-out strip mall. With the sawmill closed and no high school, the center is a last attempt to save the tribe's future.

It is run by Jeff Hartig, a graduate student at Arizona State University who has worked with troubled kids. Adam Dale, a promising young basketball player whose father is the town's councilman on the center's advisory board, becomes his assistant.

Hartig organizes after- school programs, a teen pregnancy clinic, a place for kids to come in and "jam out." He lives on the cheap and works to understand the Apache culture. At times he thinks he is the only one who cares. When the center is vandalized one night, he gives up and joins the Peace Corps.

Thousands of miles to the east is the forgotten village of Kyzyl Adyr-Kirovkaka in Central Asia. There, Anarbek Tashtanaliev is the manager of the cheese factory, the only collective left after glasnost. Anarbek is forced to manipulate government reports if he is to pay his 13 employees and keep his own head above water. But he worries about being caught.

Then word arrives that the central government is sending an American who is said to be some kind of humanitarian. Hartig, the fledgling Peace Corps member, arrives.

Hartig comes to like the people, tries to learn more of the language, the customs. But teaching English to the cheese factory workers who expect instant results with no effort proves to be too daunting. He moves on to Istanbul, Turkey.

Back in Arizona, Adam Dale is now a college student. At home on the reservation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has decreed a high school must be built as cheaply and as fast as possible. His father fears the results will become another disaster but he seems helpless to fight the bureaucracy. Increasingly pressured by his people's expectations, Adam goes in search of Hartig.

Meanwhile, Anarbek and his daughter Nazira have joined Adam. They all live in Hartig's apartment; Istanbul is their last resort. There, East meets West, deep friendships form, and love emerges.


Sybil Downing is a Boulder novelist who writes a monthly column on new regional fiction.




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Story Source: Denver Post

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Kyrgyzstan; Writing - Kyrgyzstan

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