Monday, July 06, 2009

Our trip to Kyrgyzstan

In a little over a month, my family and I will be flying halfway around the world to spend 3 weeks in central Asia, visiting with our former student's family in Kyrgyzstan.

I have done only a small amount of traveling out of the country, having been to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Spain, England, and Scotland. Most of my travels have been within the United States and while there is still more for me to see in my own country, I am excited beyond words to be going to Kyrgyzstan.

I have long been fascinated by other cultures and languages and how language, culture, and place influence individuals. While I grew up in a fairly mono-cultural environment (in Long Island, NY), I was also exposed to the great melting pot that is New York City from a very early age. In college, one of my dearest friends moved to the US from South Africa when he was in his early teens. Aside from falling in love with his wonderful accent, I learned more about Apartheid from our casual conversations than I ever did reading the paper or discussing it in classroom settings.

In my working life, I was also fortunate enough to work with physical therapists from many different countries, learning from clinicians from Holland, Israel, France, and Ireland, among others. I still remember one of the Dutch therapists, whose English was flawless, none-the-less struggling with colloquial expressions and forever confusing them with endearing results. The courage and self-reliance it takes to pick up and move to a different country still astounds me.

I have blogged before about our incredible experiences hosting our lovely Kyrgyz student. She became part of our family from the moment she moved into our home. She opened up a new world to us with language, culture, and food and one that we now will have a chance to see for ourselves.

From conversations we have had, our former student has let us know that her mother is more than a little nervous about her American guests. I can guarantee, that we are more nervous still! I want to be a good guest and I also don't want to be a burden on her family. There are four of us and as much as I don't want her family to put themselves out for us, I understand how important hospitality is to their culture.

I wish I could blog during our trip, but I will not be bringing a computer, nor will there be reliable internet access, except for the short time we will be in Osh and in Bishkek. If we do stop into an internet cafe, I will do my best to provide at least some short updates and perhaps even photos, though that may be less likely, given bandwidth restrictions.

I'll give you fair warning when we're headed on the great adventure. There's a countdown on the right hand side of the blog. As of today, 39 days and counting.

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