On November 26, 2009 the American Corner in Karaganda held an essay competition titled, "What do you know about American culture?" Participants included high school students from all over Karaganda and the event was held in coordination with the Karaganda City Department of Education. The winners of the competition were chosen by the Peace Corps Volunteers, who read essays focusing on a variety of topics from the art and artists of America to President Barack Obama’s Nobel Prize Award. We were privileged to have at the event Mr. Jeffrey Sexton, the Counselor for Public Affairs at U.S. Embassy in Astana. More than twenty students received Certificates , Diplomas and gifts from the American Embassy. American Corner has a large collection of books dealing with the many aspects of American culture, which was an excellent resource for the students in doing their research, and we think will encourage the students’ further attendance and activity with the American Corner. The American Corner is always interested in new users coming and sharing information about American culture, and we want to ensure that this new generation of users will know and appreciate the resources that are available to them here at the library’s American Corner. I appreciate the way we have celebrated Thanksgiving Day!
Within the frames of the International Education Week 2009, on November 20, 2009, American Corner in Karaganda organized a meeting with representatives from the American university in Bulgaria (AUBG), Lyubomila Borisova, Admission counselor and recruitment coordinator, and Rakhiya Bekbayeva, American councils for international education. They presented the AUBG as a top career opportunities institution that measures its quality by the success of its graduates. They are making their mark in the public sector through the UN, IMF, and habitat for Humanity, and their graduates are offered positions with multinational companies such as CNN, Coca Cola, and Microsoft. Due to the fact that groups at the AUBG are small, it allows an interaction between the professor and each of the students in the class. Thus, the lessons are not professor-oriented but focused on students.
The result: more than twenty five pupils of the 11th grade and their parents learnt about studying abroad. Our tenth International Education Week at the American Corner Karaganda turned to be very interesting and useful information exchange. A good beginning makes a good ending!
During the International Education Week, the American Corner in
Karaganda has been organizing a wide range of interesting and
informative events on education. We invited IREX coordinator Laura
Paluanova for presenting information and promotion of the Global UGRAD
Laura visited Karaganda State University of Economics, International
Business Academy, and other institutions of higher education. Since 2007
Karaganda has always had annually a UGRAD finalist. There is a deep and
steady interest in learning English language in our region, and the
American corner in Karaganda offers great resources for this! AC is a
reliable source of information on various U.S. study programs and has
books on TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT.
Result: more than 300 university students learnt about a USG-sponsored
exchange program, the American Corner Karaganda demonstrated excellent
cooperation with city universities, and was greatly supported by IREX
office in Kazakhstan.
"PROVIDE KNOWLEDGE- NOT FEAR- 2009"
October 21, American corner in Karaganda organized a workshop dealing with HIV/AIDS prevention.
The moderator was Peace Corps volunteer Katie Roders.
The audience high school teachers were very interested in the subject, having not enough materials in English at their schools .The event gathered high school teachers through the support of the Karaganda City Department of Education. The vivid and interesting presentation lasted nearly two hours. Ms. Roders showed ways to make HIV/AIDS lessons more interactive and effective, followed by a Q/A session. American corner displayed books on the theme "Drugs and drug abuse" from Open society institute, Budapest
The result of the training: The American corner in Karaganda is strengthening their relations with educational institutions.
Teachers had the opportunity of communicating with a native speaker and obtaining knowledge on AIDS prevention. Each of them received booklets and albums on the subject, including interactive activities and games. Not only were present for the HIV/AIDS prevention session, they also became acquainted with the resources of the America Corner at Gogol Library.
Featured in the photo: PCV Katie M. Roders and Karaganda area teachers with posters, "provide knowledge- not fear"
Project Design Management, Donor Development
and Grant Writing Seminar
At “The American Corner of Gogol Library”
On September 6th & 27th of 2009, the American Corner of Gogol Library geared their efforts towards civil society development. Over the course of two non-consecutive days, Peace Corps Volunteers C.Blake Kent and Katie M Roders offered a Professional Development Seminar. Seminar titles included “Project Design Management” and “Donor Development and Grant Writing”. The seminar also touched on fundraising initiatives and resume skill building.
The “American Corner of Gogol Library” invited their regular participants, and also extended an invitation to community organizations and leaders. Over 55 people attended the Professional Development Seminar, all receiving certificates designed by “The American Corner”. As a result, these 55 people are now familiar with grant writing and project design practices.
The Result: This Professional Development Seminar highlights how “The American Corner at Gogol Library” is promoting community development and volunteerism among the people of Karaganda. Not only do we offer our regular Round Table activities, but “The American Corner at Gogol Library” endeavors to continuously raise the standards for English Language acquisition and the services we provide.
In the near future “The American Corner at Gogol Library” will offer a Professional Development Training on “Curriculum Vitas, Resumes, and Cover Letters”.
From August 3 to August 14, 2009 American Corner in the city of Karaganda organized a Summer language camp for high school students, conducted fully in the English language with the help of Peace Corps Volunteers (USA). <This is a joint project of the AC and the City Department of Education. The aim of the project:
- To help students overcome the language barrier when communicating with native speakers.
- Create situations of using acquired knowledge in everyday life
- To get acquainted with the American Corner and its resources
The moderators of the camp were: Marianne Midwinter, Megan Kennedy, Blake Kent and others.
A summer camp participants were high schools students from 7 - 11 grades from many schools of the city. During four hours a day they had their English vocabularies in use: different forms of lessons Round table discussions, communicative fluency activities, grammar games and grammar practice activities.
On the last day of the Language camp 60 students have received Certificates. The students performed Talents Show and said many thanks to the PCVs.
The result: American corner received new users and patrons. Collaboration with PCVs and educational institutions allows AC to contribute to the educational atmosphere of the region. The time demands of a new generation of Kazakhstan be trilingual, fluent in Kazakh, Russian and English.
"Strengthening American Corners in Kazakhstan"
On August 5-6, 2009 American corner in Regional research library named after Gogol N.V. welcoming AC coordinators from Kazakhstan and Russia. The participants of the annual Workshop include William Middleton, Information Resource officer (IIP) from the Department of State, Victoria Sloan, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy Astana, as well as 12 participants from Kazakhstan and Russia.
The aim or the event was to share experiences, increase professionalism, and strengthen effective cooperation of American Corner coordinators, Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), in cooperation with Public Affairs Office (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy Astana, Kazakhstan. Annual workshop was focused on “Strengthening American Corners in Kazakhstan”. Participants were discussing “American Corners’ Best Practices—and biggest Problems”, “Effective cooperation between American Corners and Alumni”, “Fundraising and Marketing for American Corners”, “EBSCO Database and Pop Culture Universe training and exercises”. After interesting and very useful workshop each AC coordinator received a Certificate. For the first time there was chosen “Coordinator of the Year”- Sholpan Baimurzina(AC coordinator, Karaganda)
"Strengthening American Corners in Kazakhstan"
August 5-6, 2009 American corner in Rregional research library named after Gogol N.V. welcoming AC coordinators from Kazakhstan and Russia.In order to share experiences, increase professionalism, and strengthen effective cooperation of American Corner (AC) coordinators, Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), in cooperation with Public Affairs Office (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy Astana, Kazakhstan, organizes annual workshops for AC coordinators. Similar conferences were held in Oskemen and Astana.
This year, IIP also plans to organize annual workshop "Strengthening American Corners in Kazakhstan".
The participants of the Workshop include William Middleton, Information Resource officer (IIP) from the Department of State, Victoria Sloan, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy Astana, Rymbala Omarbekova Andreeva, Head of department of culture of Karaganda Oblast Akimat, Valentina Razumova, Foreign languages methodologist of Karaganda City department of education, as well as 12 participants from Kazakhstan and Russia.
IIP covers all hotel accommodation expenses.
IIP covers costs for the air transportation from your city to Karaganda and back.
IIP provides per diem to cover costs for food, local transportation (bus and taxi), telephone calls, dry cleaner, tips and similar expenses during your travel. This per diem should be enough to cover your miscellaneous expenses.
Remember the advertised video challenge "Democracy is …"? People around the world were asked to create short videos completing the phrase, “democracy is…”. As a result , over 900 contestants from 95 countries answered the call, which were then narrowed down to 18 finalists!
The U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan downloaded all 18 videos on a DVD for our convenience and have sent them along with a few copies of printed ad posters to the American Corners in our country . All the American Corners Coordinators also received poster attachments in English , Kazakh and Russian for advertising purposes. The American Corner in Karaganda with the help of the U.S. Embassy in Astana and the American Corner’s Programmer greatly helped us to turn a regular Discussion Clubs into an open and honest dialogue on the many facets of what democracy is!
The American Corner in Karaganda, in collaboration with the City Department of Education, started a new project, "Model United Nations", for the high school students of our city. Participation in the project allows students to develop public speaking, debate, writing and negotiating skills. It also provides students with an opportunity to explore different countries and global issues, as well as practice their English with the help of local Peace Corps Volunteers Blake Kent and Marianne Midwinter. The project goals are:
to see students work as teams,
to acquire knowledge about global issues and country perspectives,
to overcome the psychological and language barriers in multilingual public speaking, and strengthen the connection of the American Corner with the students, who, without doubt, will be the friends and users of the American Corner in the years to come.
The Project worked from February through June 2009.
On June 21st, 28 , 2009 Women’s Club at the American Corner in the Karaganda Gogol Library conducted a session on PROJECT DESIGN MANAGEMENT. This session was specifically targeted at women of the Karaganda area in order to generate gender specific projects that will assist with the development of women and their communities in Karaganda.
For the session, 25 women attended and learned about project designing as well as project management. The materials were obtained from the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan resource library. To supplement the Project Design Management session, Women’s Club will have a second session on June 28th on “Donor Development and Grant Writing”.
On April 7, 2009, the American Corner in Karaganda organized a children's art exhibition, "AMERICA IS CLOSER THAN IT SEEMS”. The event hailed the 3rd anniversary of the opening of Karaganda's American Corner in the Gogol Regional Research Library. The exhibition is one of the initiatives undertaken by local Peace Corps Volunteers and the American Corner staff.
The purpose of the exhibition is to increase the interest of children to the multicultural aspects of America, and to increase cultural education of the Karaganda children.
On July 5th, 2009 the American Corner at the Gogol Library in Karaganda arranged a US Independence Day Celebration. The American Corner Coordinator and the Peace Corps Volunteers who volunteer at the American Corner advertised the celebration for weeks ahead of time, and were not disappointed by the turn out. Over 40 participants came to our celebration, including many new faces who will return to utilize the American Corner resources. All participants enjoyed watching the film “Welcome: Portraits of America”, which was distributed by the US Department of State. Following this, all participated in a 26 question QUIZ which was also obtained from the US Department of State.
On July 17, 2009 the American Corner in Karaganda had an event connected with the 40th anniversary of the first landing on the Moon. This day, U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong said these famous words, as he became the first person to walk on the Moon: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” The American corner hosted a two hour look at the first moon landing. As part of the presentation, participants viewed video of the first steps of human life on the moon, and learned about the cinematography process that made the live viewing of the landing possible.
The American Corner’s Women’s Club of Gogol Library recently completed their "Women’s Empowerment Workshop May 29th-31st, 2009". A follow up to the original “Women’s Empowerment Workshop, 2008”.
This year’s topics included: Body Image, Nutrition and Fitness, Communication Skills, Career Development and Sexual Health. Each of the topics was presented by a Peace Corps Volunteer, providing concrete information to each of the 25 local workshop participants. Each presentation lasted two-three hours, with additional activities including: journaling, energizers, etc.
In total, there were over 30 women participating in the workshop, with an additional Peace Corps Kazakhstan Administrative representative on May 30th.
Considering that Women’s Club regularly talks about global women’s issues, we felt that doing an “8th of March Women’s Street Action” would be an appropriate activity for our club. In preparation, we had 4 teams (each of 1 American and 1 native Russian speaker) prepare ¼ page handouts on 1 of 4 topics: Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking, HIV/AIDS and Women, and Breast Cancer. Over 150 of those leaflets were then distributed on the streets of Karaganda on March 8th by the Women’s Club. Following our street action we returned to the American Corner to celebrate our favorite holiday.
To combine our street action with "Women’s History Month", on March 15th our weekly discussion group focused on the history of International Women’s Day, and the history of women’s activism for equal rights. To conclude our session, our participants gave tribute to a historical women’s demonstration, incorporating posters and women’s solidarity.
The city department of education and the American Corner in Karaganda held a two week workshop for high school teachers from June 29 to July 13. Peace Corps Volunteers- Marianne Midwinter, Megan Kennedy and Blake Kent were the moderators of workshop. The training took place in the linguistic Gymnasium #3. Local teachers had a wonderful opportunity of listening to native speakers. The themes included American holidays, the communicative approach, using the internet, finding classroom resources, debate and public speaking in the classroom, and activities for beginning students. Some of themes were aimed to make seminars more connected with Kazakhstani English textbooks.
On June 29th, 2009 the American corner at Gogol Library in Karaganda had the good fortune of hosting presenters from EducationUSA and the U.S. Embassy. Christine Chung, Emily Mikhalik and Auken Tungatarova (all U.S. university students) presented on incredibly important issues to American Corner patrons: "How to Apply To U.S. Universities". This lecture attracted approximately 30 students and interested community members. The lecture moderators, and Maira Tungatarova the Education USA Coordinator, supplied useful information on searching for realistic university opportunities, applying procedures, and financial aid possibilities. Many of the American Corner patrons have expressed interest in exactly those topics. The American Corner at Gogol Library in Karaganda is very grateful to EducationUSA and the U.S. Embassy for providing us with such an excellent lecture. As a result, 30 American Corner participants and community members were given useful tips and skills on how to apply to international universities, specifically in the United States of America.
On May 3, 2009, the Karaganda American Corner Journalism course discussed the theme of World press freedom day. Before the event we received many materials from the U.S. Embassy, and we spoke about Edward R. Murrow as the founder of American broadcast journalism. He was always searching for new techniques to grab and hold the public’s attention. Edward R. Murrow’s ardent belief in American democracy, his courage and perseverance in searching for and reporting the truth, and his dedication to journalism as an essential tool in the democratic political process are still cherished and nurtured by many institutions. These values are also reflected in awards and programs that honor this great reporter throughout the United States and overseas.
The moderator of the discussion was Blake Kent, a Peace Corps Volunteer who has worked several years as a journalist. He spoke about some clear principles of journalism ethics, the role and responsibilities of journalists in a democratic society.
Karaganda has been referred to as "The Linguistic Center of Kazakhstan". Here, we have many universities and colleges where foreign languages are offered as specialties. Primary foreign language faculties include German, French, and with an especial preference given to English. Through these faculties, students become certified teachers and interpreters.
For many years, the American Corner of Karaganda has worked in collaboration with The Teachers of English Association (TEKA) of the Karaganda region and with Peace Corps Volunteers in Kazakhstan. For six years they have been delivering Teacher Training Seminars. Past titles include: "A Teacher as a Peacemaker", "Teaching English through Current Events", "Our Role in the Community, and "Building girls' self-confidence in the classroom". In addition to this, we have compiled a very useful book collection about methods of teaching English. Based on these resources, a platform was created for the start of the American Corner at the Gogol Library
In 2006, United States Ambassador John Ordway and the Assistant Akim, S. Kanayev, attended the American Corner of Karaganda’s Opening Ceremony.
On February 7th, 2007 a great educational event took place in the American Corner.Mary Nell Bryant, the Information Resource Office of the United States Department of State gave an excellent presentation on “U.S. Government and Law. Audience members included: Peace Corps Volunteers and students from local colleges and universities who were studying English at that time. More than 100 people were invited to this event, and all came! Mass media was also present at the presentation, including Channel 31 Channel, 5, The Regional/Oblast Channel, as well as local newspapers.
Then on April 4th, 2007 the American Resource Center was visited by Richard Damstra, the political officer of the United States Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Mr. Damstra participated in the Round Table Discussion "HUMAN RIGHTS IN US FOREIGN POLICY". More than thirty students from local colleges and universities were invited to the discussion. This particular Round Table Discussion attracted many new participants, as well as the regular attendees of American Corner activities. During the discussion Mr. Damstra spoke about human rights, and prompted the audience to ask questions about general human rights information and US policy. It was a very interesting dialogue between the Moderator and the audience.
April was a busy month, as on April 16th, 2007 our American Resource Center greeted Kathryn Koop, an English Language Specialist from The New School University in the City of New York. She was a moderator of the workshop “How to Get Students to USE the Language They Have.
About fifty secondary school teachers were shown how to train students to work in groups/pairs which allows them to practice reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills and promotes peer learning rather than teacher-centered teaching.
On April 23rd, 2007 American Resource Center welcomed Anthony Samuel, American English Language Fellows who is currently working at the Almaty Continuous Education Institute. He was the moderator of the workshop: "Interactive Teaching: Task-Based Learning".
More than forty secondary school teachers were shown how to use interactive and student-centered approaches when working with authentic reading materials. In the model of task-based learning the students start with the task. When they have completed it, the teacher draws attention to the language used, making corrections and adjustments to the students' performance. The teacher is an observer during the task phase and becomes a language informant only during the 'language focus' stage.
Regional Research Library was very excited to host the American writer Joan Bauer on June 8th, 2007. In her eight novels, Joan Bauer explores difficult issues with humor and hope. Her books have won numerous awards, among them the Newbery Honor Medal, the LA Times Book Prize, the Christopher Award, and the Golden Kite Award of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. A New York Times best-selling author, she has been interviewed on radio shows nationwide and appeared on both network and cable television.
On September 27th, 2007 American Resource Center welcomed Michael Boland, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Associate Director of the Arthur Capper Cooperative Center at Kansas State University. Mr. Boland presented on “Economic Geography or Branding by Geography”. It was a nice lecture dealing with a new view on geography.
On October 16th, 2007 our American Resource Center was visited by Ambassador Derek Shearer , the Chevalier Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs at Occidental College in Los Angeles. He also serves as Director of Global Affairs, handling the college’s international relations and directing the expansion of its international affairs programs.
More than one hundred people came to the lecture with Ambassador Derek Shearer: "Globalization and the War on Terror: U.S. Foreign Policy after 9/11".
February brought Black History Month to the American Resource Center! On February 21, 2008 we received Brenda Fillips Flanagan, a storyteller, writer, and poet from the United States of America. Originally from Trinidad, Flanagan is a prolific writer who has received numerous awards and has published a vast array of plays, short stories and one novel. She is currently a Professor of English at Davidson College in North Carolina where she teaches Caribbean and African-American literature, as well as Creative Writing.
In spring 2008, the American Resource Center and the Gogol Regional Research Library started a new program, Infocaravan. In this program, the "American Resource Centre visits distant areas". The purpose of these visits is to promote: "Language training throughout all life"; and "the unity of three languages", and the building of a trilingual Kazakhstan, in that everyone will know Kazakh, Russian and English.
Infocaravan visited the nearby city libraries in Shahtinsk, Temirtau, and Saran. Our visit brought together English teachers, language students of local technical colleges, and librarians.
We promoted the idea that libraries are not only a resource for information, but are also centers of community, international dialogue, and for cultural exchange. We inspired audiences to learn English, and overcome language barriers; and to pursue greater knowledge and experience for their professional work. The key point of this Infocaravan was collaborating with U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV), who helped us to organize and carry-out the library visits.
We had two special guests on October 14th, 2008. Carol Nackenoff, professor of political science at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Penn., and Victoria Sloan, Counselor for Public Affairs, visited the American Corner in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. Carol Nackenoff made a presentation on "Elections in the USA", aiding library patrons and the Karaganda community in better understanding the intricacies of the U.S. election process on the eve of the 2008 presidential election. Ms. Nackenoff gave three presentations during her Karaganda visit: two at the Gogol Library American Corner, and one at the University of Languages and Translation, "Lingua".
Our result: approximately 250 people attended throughout the day. Attendees included alumni of U.S. Department of State programs, teachers of law, students of English, Peace Corps Volunteers, local media, and others. The information day aided more than 200 people in understanding U.S. presidential elections.
Reviews and reports of all the American Corner events are immediately sent to ACSTAFF-L@lists.state.gov.
In the photo: Carol Nackenoff- professor of political science and Victoria Sloan- Counselor for Public Affairs.