I no longer live in Central Asia, but am sure I will be back there in due time, and meanwhile will continue observing from a new state-side vantage point.

I can be reached via e-mail (rgong[at], and now that I finally have access to blogs, the comment section of this page or any of my posts.


5 Responses to Contact

  1. Jenna says:

    Hey Becca,

    My name’s Jenna and I’m coming to Kazakhstan in a few months on a State Dept. grant. Would you be able to send me an email because I have some questions about KZ. Thanks!


  2. Good morning how are you?
    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people’s diversity from all over the world.
    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.
    For all this I would ask you one small favour:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Kazakhstan? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Kazakhstan in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:
    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Calle Valencia, 39
    28903 Getafe (Madrid)
    If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.
    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely

    Emilio Fernandez

  3. astueve says:

    Hello Becca,
    I am working on putting together a list of blogs about Central Asian countries for scholars and students who are thinking about traveling there. I wondered if you might know of any that are good. Some of these folks might be able to read cyrillic, so while I can’t read it, you can go ahead and list any that use it. If you get a chance to respond to this.
    Amanda Stueve

  4. Fraser says:

    Hi Becca, been reading your interesting and informative posts about KZ and you seem pretty clued-up so I was wondering if you could offer your advice on the following. My wife Kate and I have been offered teaching jobs in Shymkent to start in August, we’ve got 2 small girls Maisie and Rosa who are 4 and 2. I was really looking forward to to it until I’ve just read your blog re the awful sex attacks on your staff and friends and then reading about the lead pollution in Shymkent. Oh also then reading about you getting airlifted out due to contaminated dust (hope yr o.k now). On one hand it seems like a life changing opportunity yet there’s nothing more important than the safety of my girls. What do you think? Would appreciate some advice.

    All the best

  5. beccazsky says:

    Which school/university/center will you be based out of? I know all of them quite well. I understand your concerns, and think that you should evaluate your ability to home-school your girls, since the Shymkent educational system is generally quite corrupt and inefficient (though many young people do work hard and can do a lot based on their own determination, 2 and 4 is a little young to expect that). It might provide them an interesting opportunity however to be immersed in and learn Russian, which I think is a valuable future skill. It depends also on how long you plan to stay. Overall, as I mentioned in my earlier posts, Kazakhstan is not an overtly dangerous or backwards place to live, though it certainly faces many difficult problems and you should be cautious. Life in Shymkent is modernizing but people still struggle. I would worry less about violent attack/illness and more about subtleties like gender expectations that even young girls can be surrounded by and pick up on, etc. That being said, please check into your travel health insurance and do not hesitate to medevac if something should happen (much less likely in C. Asia than any warmer/tropical region, honestly), because while disease can happen anywhere, good health care services do not exist equally everywhere!

    Please feel free to mail me at the address above if you’d like to discuss anything in further detail. Shymkent is a wonderful place and if you do end up going, I can introduce you to many excellent people and you are sure to be a welcome and needed addition to the community. There is a huge opportunity to touch the lives of young people who want exposure to the outside world, ideas, and ESL acquisition. I have never regretted my decision to go or my experiences. Hope this helps.

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