Teaching in Kazakhstan

FROM COLLIN COUSINS

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I'm a Peace Corps volunteer in the NKO Oblast of Kazakhstan. I'm officially an English teacher, but I also run clubs for kids and young adults, and will be trying to get a health initiative going next year.

I live in a village called Sergeyevka, and being over 180 kilometers from the nearest volunteer, makes me the most remote volunteer in Kazakhstan. I'm slowly learning how to speak Russian, drink vodka, and play the piano. It's important to fill up your time here, because the winters are harsh. It often gets to forty below, and we've had weeks where the temperature doesn't get above -25 C.

It's an intense experience and figuring out how to stay sane, exercise, and have fun have all been challenging. I have long conversations over tea with old ladies, run in all weather, shadowbox when windchill hits -60, and am not entirely sure that I'm staying sane.

The experience does afford me plenty of time to read though, so I'm catching up on years of good literature made possible by my (yes I sold my soul to the devil) Kindle. Teaching's great, although sometimes exhausting, and I'm looking forward to doing something with that when I come home.

Although being here has given me perspective that I'm extremely grateful for, and has further convinced me to pursue a career in medicine.