As an individual project for one of my classes, I am reviewing the media climate in Kazakhstan.
It’s not a country that is in the news a lot. Rarely, if ever, does a story mention the Central Asian country. I took this opportunity to talk to a Peace Corps volunteer who’d been to Kazakhstan and had spent about 4 months there. Although he had no journalism-related experiences particularly, I hoped to learn from him what the country is like and what the people consider important. FYI, Peace Corps no longer runs a program in that country.
Takeaways from my conversation with Owen M. (the Peace Corps volunteer). Everything listed below is what he told me:
1. He didn’t want me to use his full name because Kazakh officials monitor news about their country and his name associated with a published article could jeopardize his chances of getting into the country another time.
2. Kazakhs take hospitality very seriously.
3. Kazakhs consider Russian state-media the go-to source for international news (according to Owen).
4. Internet is not widespread. It is available only to the upper class.
5. To be an English-speaking country is one of Kazakhstan’s goals. Those who can speak English well take great pride in their ability to do so.
6. Almaty is a safe city. Apparently, you can walk around the city late at night and not worry about getting killed or mugged.
7. The northern region of the country is more nationalistic than the southern region.
8. The Kazakh language is similar to languages spoken in the -stans of Central Asia. If you speak one, you can figure out the rest of them fairly easily. Like Arabic.
9. There didn’t seem to be any particular concern the people had with either their economic situation or their government. To be fair, Owen only got a limited picture of life in Kazakhstan, so take this point with a few grains of salt.
I wish I could round off and make it a 10-point list, but it was a short conversation. Tonight, I will be speaking with a journalism professor at KIMEP University based in Almaty. Then I shall learn more about what I actually need to know for my story.
I also wish I could go to Kazakhstan. The cheapest roundtrip ticket to Almaty from St. Louis that I could find costs $1,449 (costs about the same from MCI). That’s how much it takes for me to go to home (Muscat). I could just go to Almaty instead! Insha’Allah, I will go one summer. Insha’Allah it will be within the next five years.