Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Last week's discussion on Time Management actually turned out to be a lot of fun. Bethany Burns, a University Teacher, added some interesting facts: Synchronization of European and U.S. watches took place for the first time in 1912. Why? Because everybody wanted to know the exact time that the Titanic sunk. We also talked about the U.S. perception of time and how that influences our speech and culture. For instance: Time is money--Ben Franklin. Don't waste time. You can save time by... etc. I find this equation of time with money fascinating and think it speaks to our values and why we are such a productive (meaning our labor output is darn high) society. But do we miss out on anything becuase of this?

At the end of the class, I asked the students if they knew what time the discussion club started. Nearly all 53 of them raised their hands. Then I pointed to the whiteboard (where Nate, another volunteer had been marking each late arrival with a marker). We counted 24 people who arrived late. We all laughed. This is a difficult problem that most volunteers and foreigners face when coming to Kyrgyzstan.

I also faced this Time Issue in Indonesia when I lived there. Indonesia has many rubber plantations and, as you know, rubber is flexible. Accordingly, Indonesians designate tardiness as "Jam Karat" or, Rubber Time.

Here in Kyrgyzstan, it is simply known by the locals as "Kyrgyz Time". When we (PC volunteers) have a meeting with locals, we always ask, "So, does that start on Kyrgyz Time or American Time?" This usually gets a good laugh, since everyone here knows about and acknowledges the cultural Time differences.

Last Night's discussion was on European and United States Relations. Chad (another PCV in Osh) gave a wonderful presentation and then we had the students (again, over 50 showed up) divide into two large groups representing Europe and the U.S. Each side was to come up with 7 interests that these global powers have in common and seven interests that diverge. Then we debated the lists.

The WebCam links on Tuesdays and Thursday has continued to go fairly successfully--though there have been some technical bumps in the road...The students keep coming, I just wish that Osh State University would take a more active role in this. It's supposed to be their opportunity to link with countries around the world and the program has not received any support. All of the other schools have a professor from their institution that runs the course and a classroom to conduct it in. We have neither. The students aren't even getting credit (unlike the other universities) they are just doing it because they are excited to learn about other cultures. Ahhh, I am venting.

Anyway, that's the work update. We are still waiting for our funding to arrive from DC (they said about 3 weeks) so that we can purchase the computers and get them up and running in the Center for American Studies.

Take care folks!

Also, I just want to send out a CONGRATULATIONS TO MY FRIENDS MARNI & GREG on their WEDDING!!!! I am sorry I can't be there to celebrate in person! Miss you guys and I hope to see you over X-mas.


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