Site announcement!!

10.09.09 (backlogged again, sorry)

At long last, we found out our permanent sites, where we will be spending the next two years! We were all biting our nails at the ceremony, which was painfully placed at the end of a long hub day. All of us gathered in the gymnasia’s large auditorium and our names were called out one by one by the Regional Manager who will be in charge of us (there are 5 RMs, each of whom has 2 or 3 oblasts of Kazakhstan under their jurisdiction. An oblast is basically like a province.). On October 31st (yes, Halloween), I will be swearing in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer (til now we’ve actually just been lowly Trainees), and the next morning I will board another 18-hour train to my site – Ust-Kamenogorsk!

Ust-Kamenogorsk is there in the top right-hand corner. Click on the map to enlarge.

Fondly called “Ust” for short, the city is also one of the top 10 largest in Kaz, with a population of over 300,000. It is located in the northeast of Kazakhstan as you can see, very near the confluence point of Kazakhstan, Russia, Mongolia and China (it is less than 500km from each of the latter three). Renowned for its natural beauty, Ust is built in between two rivers (the Irtysh and Ulba), and there are many mountains nearby. I have been told by current volunteers there that vegetables are available year round, and that it’s one of the most sports-minded cities in Kaz (people ski, hike, skate, bike, etc.). I am also on a Peace Corps Tier 2 living allowance because of its large size, which is nice.

I will be working at a human trafficking NGO called “Phoenix” – it even has an English-language description on the local Akimat (government office) website of Ust-Kamenogorsk, as well as its own official website in Russian. They work primarily on gender and trafficking issues, providing advocacy, legal and psychological consultations, victim assistance and asylum, and educational programs. It was the lone organization on our aforementioned list that dealt with anything in this sphere of fascinating issues, and I feel very lucky to be going there. It is also a pioneer organization; though there have been many other volunteers in the city of Ust before me, I will be the first one at this particular org, and so will shape their expectations and ideas about having a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Speaking of other volunteers: I have one Kaz-21 EDU sitemate with me who is teaching English at a school in Ust proper, and another Kaz-21 EDU in a town about 3-4 hours east of us. There are also several Kaz-20s that are posted in the area, so we will have plenty of company and opportunities to work together! I am thrilled with my placement, which is good because it will be hard to leave my friends and life here in Issyk. My overall experience in training has been amazing (and will be hard to beat, honestly), but I am stoked for what’s to come.

*All pictures from the official Өскемен website.

This entry was posted in site placement. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Site announcement!!

  1. Congrats on Oskemen. I hope you like snow and -40 C weather :-)How much is the living allowance in Kaz these days. Back in 1997-1999, we just a set amount that was the same across Kazakhstan. In fact, it was too high since I was actually able to save a lot of money during the two years.Your assignment sounds very interesting. I hope you are able to continue blogging there. The internet outside of the Almaty area is not really stable.Best of luck.

  2. SaigonNezumi says:

    Oh, what language will you speak there? I heard you guys are required to stay with a host family now.

  3. Becca says:

    Internet has made big progress since you were here I think – it's pretty pervasive now in major cities. Most people speak Russian in the cities though there's a lot of Kazakh too in the south. We have to stay with a host family the first 6 months at site, and then we can move out on our own. 🙂

  4. SaigonNezumi says:

    I stayed with a host family for two full years. It kept me sane in my town especially during the long winter.I had to go to Taraz to send emails only once a week 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s