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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Kazakh class combats ‘Borat’ stereotype

    Yerbolat Zhumakhmetov, finance senior and Kazakh native, and Deidre Lyons, a pre-communications freshman, are faux-married in the Kazakh custom Wednesday morning at the Learning Services Building as part of an educational celebration of Kazakh culture and Nauryz, the upcoming Kazakh new year.
    Yerbolat Zhumakhmetov, finance senior and Kazakh native, and Deidre Lyons, a pre-communications freshman, are faux-married in the Kazakh custom Wednesday morning at the Learning Services Building as part of an educational celebration of Kazakh culture and ‘Nauryz,’ the upcoming Kazakh new year.

    If you thought you learned everything you need to know about Kazakhstan from watching “”Borat,”” think again.

    Kazakh students and students from the freshman colloquium class “”The Other Kazakhstan”” gathered Wednesday for an educational celebration of Kazakh culture and “”Nauryz””, the upcoming Kazakh new year.

    The event was coordinated by students in the colloquium class as part of their midterm, said Zura Dotton, a Ph.D. candidate in the second language acquisition and teaching department and the instructor of the class. The purpose of the class is to give students an understanding of the “”real”” Kazakhstan, Dotton said.

    “”‘Borat’ basically just used the name of Kazakhstan. There is nothing about Kazakhstan in that movie,”” Dotton said.

    “”The only two things that relate to Kazakhstan from the movie are the flag and the map,”” said Yerbolat Zhumakhmetov, finance senior and Kazakh native. “”The rest of it is pure fiction. It’s a comedy, right?””

    The Nauryz celebration, which took place in the Learning Services building courtyard, included traditional Kazakh music and food such as “”baursaki,”” a small puff pastry.

    The event was centered around a faux wedding ceremony between Zhumakhmetov and Deidre Lyons, a pre-communications freshman who is in the colloquium class.

    “”(Nauryz) comes with the spring-time, when you get your livestock out to the fields when they’re lush and have green grass and stuff,”” Zhumakhmetov said.

    The UA has about 20 Kazakh students, many of whom are able to attend the school through the International Presidential Scholarship, or “”Bolashak,”” a scholarship program offered by the government of Kazakhstan that sends up to 3,000 students abroad for college, Zhumakhmetov said.

    Although Nauryz was nothing new for Kazakh students, it was a first for some students in the class.

    “”I took this class just to have an extra unit on my plate,”” Lyons said. “”But after the first couple weeks of being in it, it was really interesting, and I’m glad I took it. They’re a very laid-back, into-it kind of culture.””

    The “”wedding”” included faculty from the Russian and Slavic Languages department acting as family members of the bride and groom. The ceremony included traditional garb and an exchange of small gifts in accordance with Kazakh tradition.

    The class was preserved despite the recent budget cuts thanks to funding from the Kazakh embassy in Washington, D.C., Zhumakhmetov said.

    The class was started in the fall of 2007 in a joint effort between Zhumakhmetov and Russian and Slavic Languages professor Romy Taylor. The main motive for starting the class was to “”expand and broaden the positive image of our country abroad,””

    Zhumakhmetov said.

    So far, the class appears to have achieved this goal.

    “”I never knew anything about Kazakhstan, to tell you the truth,”” said Walter Doyle, a pre-business sophomore in the class. “”A class like this can really help people get rid of their biases. It’s good to learn so you can speak informed.””

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