In Kyrgyz, there are two ways to say goodbye: жакшы калиңез (“stay well”) if you are the one departing, and жакшы бариңез (“have a good journey”) if you are the one remaining. I recently said what I hope is only a temporary жакшы калиңез to Central Asia. Looking back over this blog, it has been an amazing collection of all of the stories — mostly work-related but inevitably also personal and cultural — that have transpired and been not-so-meticulously recorded over the last three years. I realize that this blog is not updated enough to attract too much regular readership among people who know me, but I think it can still serve as an ad-hoc resource for people interested in the region who stumble upon it…and as institutional memory for me, personally. I would love to go back and fill in some of the gaps for readers who may want to travel, work or volunteer in Central Asia, and continue to build some understanding of a rather recondite area so many consider “off the map.” Moving forward, when time permits I would like to occasionally offer some musings on Central Asia and development that may either take the form of retroactive reminiscing/travel tips from my days in the field, or tie in more academic themes from my upcoming courses in graduate school.
I want to express my deepest gratitude to my colleagues and friends in Osh and Bishkek, who helped me through a very scary medical evacuation (moral of the story: you can get random rickettsial infections through breathing dust, even in an icy winter landscape. Crazy!). After bouncing around some pretty terrible hospitals in Osh and Bishkek and almost a month of hospitalization subsequently, all seems well now. Travel health insurance always seems like a pain and a waste of money, until something actually happens to you…so I recommend everyone get it, no exceptions.
To all my wonderful colleagues at Aga Khan, thank you for making me feel at home in our office/mansion, planning field trips together to Alai and Naryn, holding many chai parties in our Osh kitchen and bearing with my enthusiasm about reporting trainings. Thank you to Team Osh (Prad, Mike, Carolyn, Maggie, Matt, Ryan, Becky, Sarah, Emily, Gulmira, Kunduz, my lovely landlady), Team Bishkek (Seth, Azeem, Dustin, Kim, Dan, Meerim, Chinara, Elgiza, Tolkun, Mavluda) and a special shout-out to Aaron in Almaty, for visiting me in the crazy mouse-ridden hospital, delivering food, helping me pack up my apartment, hosting me on visits, getting my earthly belongings on their long journey home to the U.S., and generally providing moral support and being great friends. И конечно друзьям, моим волонтерам и второй семьи в Казахстане: всегда по вам всем скучаю бесконечно. Miss you all, and I’m sure we will meet again soon.
[Kyrgyzstan: memories montage]
[Kazakhstan: back to visit my lovely Dostar volunteers!]