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Paediatric heart surgeon among nation’s 100 New Faces


ASTANA – Gulzhan Sarsenbayeva, one of Kazakhstan’s 100 New Faces, is among those who conducted pioneer research in paediatric heart surgery.

Photo credit: express-k.kz.

“I am one of the few cardiac surgeons who has the skills of ultrasound diagnosis of heart defects, which helps to see the pathology of the heart before surgery, during surgery and after surgery. This colossal experience will help me create a monograph in the future. We, specialists of the centre and children’s doctors of the country, show every day that we strive to decrease the morbidity and mortality level among children. I think that all my achievements are aimed at the health of children,” she said.

Sarsenbayeva was a young doctor 17 years ago when she joined the leading national paediatric clinic. During that time, she continued studying to improve her skills.

“Now, I perform heart surgery on children under conditions of artificial circulation. Even at school, I was interested in subjects such as biology, chemistry and anatomy. I graduated from high school and a medical university with honours. Knowledge that I got thanks to the teachers at the medical university in Almaty now helps me in determining the diagnosis, understanding the disease and, most importantly, in treating the patient. One of the priority areas in national medicine is the health of children. Earlier, our country had faced problems with therapy and surgical tactics in congenital malformations,” she said.

After graduating from the medical university in 2001, Sarsenbayeva was the neonatologist who helped organise and open the first surgery centre for newborns in the Healthcare Ministry Scientific Centre for Paediatrics and Children’s Surgery. In three years, the centre provided specialised medical care for newborns with surgical pathology. At the time, the country experienced problems in surgically correcting heart defects, as Kazakh doctors did not conduct heart surgery in newborns, children below the weight of 10 kilogrammes and those under 12 months.

“In 2005, I completed postgraduate studies in the specialisation of paediatric cardio surgery in Russia as part of the Bolashak programme. After returning to Kazakhstan, since 2009 my practical and scientific activity has been aimed at providing medical care to newborns and children with cardiac pathology,” she added.

Since 2011, Sarsenbayeva has participated in organising the paediatric centre’s cardiac surgery department, inviting a team of specialists and medical personnel. The following year, she opened a department of paediatric cardio surgery and interventional cardiology as the head of the department, which now annually performs more than 500 surgeries on heart and blood vessels.

“In addition to practical activities, I participate in the scientific technical programme on the study of children’s health in the country. I am the curator in paediatrics in the South Kazakhstan region. I constantly visit regions with master classes on the diagnosis and therapy of congenital heart diseases. I also provide assistance and train regional specialists to improve the quality of medical care in the country. All this has an impact on the infant mortality rate in the country,” she said.



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ATOM project honorary ambassador takes part in Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony


ASTANA – Kazakh artist and Honorary Ambassador of The ATOM Project Karipbek Kuyukov took part in the Dec. 10 ceremony in Oslo, Norway where the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) organisation was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017.

 

ICAN is a Geneva-based global civil society coalition made up of 468 partner organisations, including The ATOM Project, in 101 countries.

Kuyukov congratulated the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, noting that the non-proliferation effort is at “the beginning of a long way ahead of which there is still much to be done.”

He also took part in event with representatives of the victims of the atomic bombings in Japan’s Hiroshima and the ICAN campaign. In his remarks, the Kazakh artist emphasised the importance of the foreign policy initiatives of President Nursultan Nazarbayev in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation. Those initiatives resulted in Kazakhstan becoming the first country in the world to voluntarily renounce the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal and shutting down the infamous Soviet Union’s nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk, providing an example to other world powers.

kyodonews.net

“I participated in the meeting of the Norwegian public with 20 surviving victims of atomic bombings (Hibakusha) from Japan. … I listened to the speeches of live witnesses of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. I was really touched by the words of one Japanese woman who said that Japanese women were very afraid of giving birth to children for a long time, and there was panic and fear, when they learned that they would have a child. … People kept silent about many things, and only now they began to speak about some events that led me to a shock … I met there a victim who remembers me young when we were together and participated in the Nevada-Semipalatinsk movement,” Karipbek wrote in a Facebook post.

The Nobel committee awarded ICAN the peace prize for ICAN’s “work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”

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ICAN has played a key role in campaigning for the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted by 122 countries in July 2017.

Beatrice Fihn, ICAN’s executive director, urged states possessing nuclear arms to sign the agreement.

“It provides a choice. A choice between the two endings: the end of nuclear weapons or the end of us,” she said in her speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.



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Paralympic athlete aims to change perception of people with limited abilities


ASTANA – Almaty resident and Paralympic athlete Serik Yesmatov, 19, is one of Kazakhstan’s 100 New Faces. Despite his young age, he has already achieved numerous victories and has great plans for the future.

As a member of the National Paralympic Volleyball Team, Yesmatov participates in the Paralympic movement and studies at Kazakh Academy of Sports and Tourism.

“I often hold seminars for people. I think I am a good orator, a motivator. I share my experience of overcoming problems with people who face similar challenges. I think my story encourages many people,” he said in an interview for this story.

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Yesmatov has been an active person since his school years, where he danced, sang and performed in the choir at various events. Sports, however, were his main pursuit, including playing professional football, volleyball and basketball. Yesmatov also posted good results in track and field, relay races and single combats.

“In 2009, I started boxing and got onto the reserve team of Kazakh Olympic Champion Serik Sapiyev. Unfortunately, I did not participate in the competitions. Then, I started cycling and performed at the competitions. Later, my coach left Kazakhstan. However, I decided not to stop there and tried swimming. My coaches promised a great future for me. I had a dream to become an Olympian and defend the honour of the country at international competitions and the Olympic Games,” he said.

His dreams changed “radically,” however, when he accidentally fell under the wheels of a freight train.

“I lost both legs. After rehabilitation, I got my first prostheses and I learned to walk again. Then, coaches of the Kazakhstan Paralympic Volleyball Team noticed me and offered for me to continue playing sports on a professional level. I could not refuse,” he added.

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Yesmatov began Paralympic sports in 2013, joining the nation’s youth Paralympic Volleyball Team and travelling to his first international competitions. After winning the bronze medal at the Asian Youth Games in Malaysia, the athlete’s life started changing for the better. The excellent opportunities helped him become what he is now.

Yesmatov has also run several marathons. This year he participated in the Almaty marathon, overcoming a distance of more than 42 kilometres. Among Paralympians, he finished first in three hours, 56 minutes and placed 128th among the 13,000 registered runners. Within EXPO 2017, he took part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) marathons, finishing 133rd of 5,000 registered runners.

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“I worked as a volunteer at the 2017 Winter Universiade in Almaty. Then, I was recognised as the best volunteer of the Universiade. By this, I proved that people with limited abilities do not differ from full-fledged people,” he said.

Yesmatov wants to change society’s perception of people with limited abilities. He aims to achieve more and is glad people have noticed and appreciated his efforts.

“I would like to tell everyone that life loves those who do not complain about it. You need to clearly set the goal and achieve it anyway. The greatest victory is a victory over yourself,” he said.



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American student finds family in Kazakhstan


ASTANA – Vera Swanson was one of the 40 student ambassadors who worked at the United States Pavilion at EXPO 2017. Two years ago, she learned Kazakhstan was not only the destination for her Russian language studies, but also the place where her grandfather was born. Through her summer experience, she reunited with her relatives in Taraz and now has a big family in Central Asia.

Vera Swanson with her great-uncles

“I attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I studied environmental science and Russian. In summer 2015, I had the opportunity to come to Kazakhstan and study Russian. Before coming, my mom shared with me that we have relatives there who I absolutely needed to meet,” said Swanson in an interview with The Astana Times.

Her mother was born and raised in the Caucasus, in Northern Ossetia, and her father was born and raised in Minnesota. Her mother’s parents, however, are from Taraz, Kazakhstan. During Soviet times, her grandfather moved to Almaty to study at the Mining Institute and was then sent to the Caucasus to work as an engineer. He ultimately settled in the region.

Vera Swanson's grandparents Gennady and Vera

Vera Swanson’s grandparents Gennady and Vera

Vera, a Russian name meaning “faith,” was also her grandmother’s name.

“My mother grew up in the Caucasus but later moved to Moscow for graduate studies. She then studied in the United States under the Fulbright program. She now works as virologist at the Mayo Clinic. The last time she was in Kazakhstan was around 40 years ago,” she said.

In 2015, Swanson came to Almaty to study in the philology department at Kazakh National University. Later, she travelled to Taraz with her aunt (her mother’s cousin), who lives in Moscow and grew up in Merke, a city near Taraz.

Swanson discovered her grandfather was one of four brothers, one of whom was the chief physician at the regional hospital where his memorial plaque is displayed. A second brother worked as a chief builder in Taraz. Unfortunately, only two of the men are still living. Her grandfather is buried in Vladikavkaz; his brother, in Taraz.

The reunion was very sentimental, said Swanson.

“I was very emotional because I could now connect faces to the names and stories I heard growing up. Having gained and developed the language skills I did, I am now able to converse freely with my relatives or read books from their libraries. I visited my relatives in Taraz for New Year’s this year with my mom and uncle and remember making shashlik together and joking around. Being able to understand those interactions and connect on a deeper level was very special,” she said.

First meeting with great-uncle and his spouse in 2015

First meeting with great-uncle and his spouse in 2016

Swanson has relatives living in Taraz, Karaganda, Almaty and the capital.

“I feel like I have more relatives in Kazakhstan than I do in the States,” she added.

New Year celebration in Taraz

New Year’s celebration in Taraz

Swanson, whose interest in Russian began several years ago, speaks the language fluently.

“I thought it was important for me to study my mother’s native language. I started taking classes in college. My university has a wonderful Russian flagship centre, which is an initiative of the government for students to study critical languages. The study abroad component of the program often sends students to Almaty,” she said.

Swanson first visited Kazakhstan in summer 2015, returned last August 2016 and studied for an academic year until May 2017. She then went home for a few days before returning to work at the expo. In Almaty, she stayed with Kazakh families, with whom she keeps in touch and has only wonderful memories.

“One time we went to the Barakholka Market to eat the best shashlik. I remember my family recognising Oraza and fasting that first summer I came. We would have dinner very late. My host mom’s mom would always visit and I’d call her ‘apashka,’” she said, smiling and using the Kazakh word “apa” (grandmother) in a diminutively affectionate way.

Vera Swanson’s first host family in Almaty

After almost a year in Almaty, Swanson was selected to be one of the United States Pavilion’s student ambassadors at expo.

“What makes our pavilion special – we have 40 students, recent graduates, all from different states, working here and interacting with the local Kazakh citizens. Our job is to greet people in their native language. All of us know Russian and we are learning Kazakh to explain a little about ourselves and, if they have questions, explain what life is like for us. Because oftentimes through the media, people have a different view of a place. We were there to give a face to our country, to provide conversation,” she said.

В Баравом

Vera Swanson and her friend in Borovoe

During her stay in Kazakhstan she has visited Turkestan, Shymkent, Aktau, Mangystau region, Karaganda and Ust-Kamenogorsk, as well as Charyn Canyon, Kolsai Lakes, Borovoe and many other sights.

“I think it is a wonderfully warm country with some of the best landscapes I have ever seen – mountains to steppes to canyons. It is a very diverse place; it has something to offer everybody. The warmth of the people and diversity of the nation are what makes this place really special, and I hope many people can discover it,” she said.

Первый раз в Астане, 2015 г.

First visit to Astana in 2015

“I feel like Central Asia often gets overlooked by many people. Whenever I share with others where I am going or where I am studying, I always have to come with the map and point – ‘I’m here.’ And they react by saying, “that’s huge!” They know Mongolia, but they don’t know Kazakhstan. I hope that by going back to the States I can bring the stories and the pictures of this place. Kazakhstan is already on the map, but I want to make sure it is a recognised place,” she added.



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American student finds family in Kazakhstan


ASTANA – Vera Swanson was one of the 40 student ambassadors who worked at the United States pavilion at EXPO 2017. Two years ago, she learned Kazakhstan was not only the destination for her Russian language studies, but also the place where her grandfather was born. Through her summer experience, she reunited with her relatives in Taraz and now has a big family in Central Asia.

Vera Swanson with her great-uncles

“I went to college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I studied environmental science and Russian. In summer 2015, I had an opportunity to come to Kazakhstan and study Russian. Before coming, my mom said that we have relatives there that I absolutely needed to meet,” said Swanson in an interview with The Astana Times.

Her mother was born and raised in the Caucasus, Northern Ossetia, but her father, like her grandfather, is from Taraz. During Soviet times, he moved to Almaty to study at the Mining Institute and was then sent to the Caucasus to work as an engineer. He ultimately settled in the region.

Vera Swanson's grandparents Gennady and Vera

Vera Swanson’s grandparents Gennady and Vera

Vera, a Russian name meaning “faith,” was also her grandmother’s name.

“My mother grew up in the Caucasus, then moved to Moscow to do graduate school and then she went to the United States under the Fulbright programme. She is a virologist. The last time she was in Kazakhstan was like 40 years ago or so,” she said.

In 2015, Swanson came to Almaty to study in the philology department at Kazakh National University. Later, she travelled to Taraz with her aunt (her mother’s cousin), who lives in Moscow and grew up in Merke, a city near Taraz.

Swanson discovered her grandfather was one of four brothers, one of whom was the chief physician at the regional hospital where his memorial plaque is displayed. A second brother worked as a chief builder in Taraz. Unfortunately, only two of the men are still living. Her grandfather is buried in Vladikavkaz; his brother, in Taraz.

The reunion was very sentimental, said Swanson.

“I was very emotional just because now when you know that they exist and it’s the anticipation of meeting them and having gained and developed the language skills that I did. I was able to talk to them. They have a big library to be able to read those books. I remember after New Year we made shashlik together and, joking around and being able to understand that, connect on a deeper level, was very special,” she said.

First meeting with great-uncle and his spouse in 2015

First meeting with great-uncle and his spouse in 2015

Swanson has relatives living in Taraz, Karaganda, Almaty and the capital.

“I feel like I have more relatives in Kazakhstan than I do in the States,” she added.

New Year celebration in Taraz

New Year celebration in Taraz

Swanson, whose interest in Russian began several years ago, speaks the language fluently.

“I thought it was important for me to study my mother’s native language. I started taking classes in college. My university has a Russian flagship centre, which is the initiative of the government for students to study critical languages. So, when students study abroad they go to Kazakhstan and Almaty,” she said.

Swanson visited Kazakhstan in summer 2015, returned last August and studied until May, then went home for a few days before expo. In Almaty, she stayed with Kazakh families, with whom she keeps in touch and has only wonderful memories.

“One time we went to Barakholka Market to eat the best shashlik. I remember when there was Oraza and they were fasting that first summer I came, so we would have dinner very late. My host mom’s mom would always come and I call her ‘apashka,’” she said, smiling and using the Kazakh word “apa” (grandmother) in a diminutively affectionate way.

Vera Swanson's host family in Almaty

Vera Swanson’s host family in Almaty

After almost a year in Almaty, Swanson chose to be one of expo’s student ambassadors.

“What makes our pavilion special – we have 40 students, recent graduates, all from different states, working here and interacting with the local Kazakh citizens. Our job is to greet people in their own language. All of us know Russian and we are learning Kazakh to explain a little about ourselves and, if they have questions, explain what life is like for us. Because oftentimes through the media, people have a different view of a place. We were just there to give a face to our country, to provide conversation,” she said.

В Баравом

Vera Swanson and her friend in Borovoe

During her stay in Kazakhstan she has visited Turkestan, Shymkent, Aktau, Mangystau region, Karaganda and Ust-Kamenogorsk, as well as Charyn Canyon, Kolsai Lakes, Borovoe and many other sights.

“I think it is a wonderfully warm country, some of the best landscapes I ever seen – mountains to steppes to canyons. It is a very diverse place; it has something to offer everybody. The warmth of the people and diversity of the nation, I think, are what makes this place really special and I hope many people can discover it,” she said.

Первый раз в Астане, 2015 г.

First visit to Astana in 2015

“I feel like Central Asia often gets overlooked by many people and when I am telling where I am going or where I am studying, I always have to come with the map and be like – ‘I’m here.’ And they say that’s huge. They know Mongolia, but they don’t know Kazakhstan. I hope that going back to the states I can bring the story and the pictures of this place. Kazakhstan’s already on the map, but I want to make sure it is a recognised place,” she added.



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“My father’s friend” – a lesson in parenthood


The Astana Times provides news and information from Kazakhstan and around the world.

On Aug. 22, my dear father Marat Zhumagulov would have turned 60. The following story is from the series of my interesting memories of him. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.

When I was a little kid, my dad, used to raise me in quite a strict manner.

Not that he did not indulge me. On the contrary, I had all imaginable and unimaginable toys, like a model railway, the pedal car, bicycles, all the novelties of automobile and military industry for kids. All these were enough to entertain children of our entire street. Every weekend there were mandatory trips to the Gorky Park, the circus and many other attractions in Almaty and around.

At the same time, any violation of manners or discipline was uncompromisingly punished by a “corner”.

Snorted? Disobeyed? Got dirty? Go stand in the corner for a while and rethink your behaviour!

This “education through corner” stressed me out greatly. “Everything is ok in my life. But when will the time come when I will not need to stand in the corner?” I asked myself.

I decided that such a moment came when my younger brother was born. I was four years old. “Now it’s the turn of another guy to stand in the corner,” I concluded.

Moreover, while my mom was lying in the maternity hospital, my dad and I did a good job at home and generally got along quite nicely.

And so, one day we prepared a parcel for my mom and went to the hospital. In the trolley bus, I found the right moment and raised the issue straight to the point:

“Dad, you have a newborn son whom you can now scold, pamper and all that. I suggest that from now on I will be your FRIEND…”, assuming, of course, the equality and privileges associated with such status.

The boy talked so loudly that a good half of the trolleybus passengers burst into laughter.

“I’ll think about it, sonny,” Marat answered quietly.

***

Many years later I tried to apply Marat’s “corner method” while educating my own children.

Once, my three-year-old daughter had scattered toys all over the room and categorically refused to clean up the place. I decided to deliver her a tough ultimatum (What a naïve dad!):

“You collect toys now, or go stand in the corner!”

The daughter had realistically compared the burdens and made a confident conclusion: “I choose the corner!”

The post “My father’s friend” – a lesson in parenthood appeared first on The Astana Times.



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Exhibition dedicated to Bauyrzhan Momyshuly opens in Almaty


ASTANA – An exhibition dedicated to the Hero of the Soviet Union, Kazakh national hero and great military leader Bauyrzhan Momyshuly recently opened in Almaty. His personal belongings are presented for the first time. The exhibition also presents dozens of photographs about Momyshuly’s life.

Zhas Otan Chairman Madi Akhmetov organised the exhibition. He graduated from the Almaty school named after Momushuly and has been interested in Momyshuly’s biography since he was a little boy.

“When people speak about Kazakhstan’s patriotism, our legendary hero Bauyrzhan Momyshuly is first to come to my mind. It seems to me that now young people do not have enough patriotic upbringing. So I wanted, together with Almaty museum, school No.131 named after Bauyrzhan Momyshuly and Zhas Otan to hold the exhibition, which will run for two weeks until August 29,” Akhmetov said.859203095c2faa2f1bd91482beb8de82

The exhibition presents unique photographs and other personal items provided by his daughter-in-law for the first time. Some of the photos are signed by the commander.

Akhmetov said that as the 21st century is considered to be the age of visualisation, it is very important to present such information in such a way, especially for young people. He plans to organise more exhibitions.

There is still no museum dedicated to Bauyrzhan Momyshuly in Almaty nor does the national museum have an exhibition.

“In the future, we plan to organise a number of patriotic exhibitions dedicated to Aliya Moldagulova, Manshuk Mametova, Khiuaz Dospanova, Talgat Bigeldinov and other heroes,” Akhmetov said, adding that he hopes to open a military-patriotic museum in Almaty.



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Best Capital Employee voting begins in Astana


ASTANA – An online vote called Yenbek Zholy, to determine the best employee of the capital, will be held among the employees of various enterprises from Aug. 1 to 31, the media centre of the Astana akimat (city administration) reported.

Twenty-three applications were submitted for participation in the contest between May 20 and July 20.

“The Yenbek Zholy contest is held for the second time and consists of three nominations: The Best Labour Dynasty, The Best Young Production Worker and The Best Mentor of Working Young People. The selection of winners will be held in two stages: at the city and national levels, the first stage of voting started Aug. 1 and will end Aug.31,” said Makpal Akbasova, acting head of employment coordination department.

The Best Labour Dynasty award will be given to the most numerous labour dynasty of the capital with the longest working experience and the greatest number of awards.

The Best Young Production Worker will be given to the most hardworking employee with an experience of no more than five years.

And The Best Mentor of Working Young People award will be bestowed on the most effective mentor with an experience of at least 20 years.

The online voting will determine the top three contestants in each category, who will have received the maximum number of votes (nine applicants). At the second stage, the regional commission will determine the winners of the competition from each of the three leaders.

The award ceremony will be held on the day of the national forum Towards a Society of Universal Labour. Winners will be awarded with valuable prizes and diplomas. All participants will receive letters of gratitude.



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Kazakh student promotes nuclear weapons-free world at Peace Foundation in New Zealand


ASTANA – Working to promote peaceful practices and a nuclear weapons-free world has been Arailym Kubayeva’s mission for the last five months at the Peace Foundation office in Auckland, New Zealand. Kazakhstan-born Kubayeva spoke about her projects at the organisation and her motivations and challenges in an interview with The Astana Times.

After graduating from the German-Kazakh University in Almaty in 2015, Kubayeva continued her studies at the University of Tubingen in Germany, focusing on peace research and international politics.

Students there often spend a semester studying or interning abroad and while looking for such programmes, she encountered an internship opportunity at the Peace Foundation.

Established in 1975, the Peace Foundation works to promote peaceful practices that support the creation of peaceful communities at all levels. The scope of their activities includes peaceful education in New Zealand and beyond, advising on peace-related policies and decision-making bodies as well as providing a platform for the exchange of ideas in this field.

“Searching the internet, I found the Peace Foundation from New Zealand that does the conflict resolution work in schools, families and communities. I became interested in their peer mediation programme as well as national and international youth programmes in schools. It was [lucky] because they have an international internship programme and that is why they are very interested to see an international intern. My interests and skills fitted ideally to their needs and vision. I have been working for this [nongovernmental organisation] for five months and three weeks are now remaining until I am done with my internship,”  Kubayeva explained.

Besuch einer Schule mit Training von der Peace Foundation (Praktikum), 2017

At the Peace Foundation, Kubayeva is involved in the organisation of the Schools’ Peace Week, held Aug. 7-11 to raise awareness about the adverse consequences of nuclear weapons and promote nuclear disarmament and a nuclear weapons-free world.

The programme’s geographical scope has expanded since it was unveiled in 2002, as it now engages schools not only in New Zealand, but also worldwide. For instance, this year 125 schools from six countries registered for the project. Kubayeva has also been preparing a Responding to Armed Conflict (REACT) presentation on the same topic and presenting it at Auckland schools.

The theme of a nuclear weapons-free world is of particular importance to Kazakhstan, Kubayeva said.

Kazakhstan voluntarily renounced the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal, which it inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and joined major international nuclear non-proliferation treaties.

Given the significance of the topic to Kazakhstan, Kubayeva worked to involve Kazakh schools in this project, and this year the Peace Foundation received two registrations from the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools in Astana and in Kubayeva’s hometown, Aktobe.

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The organisation has special ambassadors that help set up the event at their schools. “For Schools’ Peace Week we have amazing ambassadors from Kazakhstan. They are very smart and talented young people who are actively engaged in social and political life. They help hosting the event in the schools registered for [Schools’ Peace Week] SPW, spread the word through their social media pages and serve as good role models for every student involved in our projects,” noted Kubayeva.

People who promote change in the surrounding communities and at the same time strive to be the change they want to see inspire her.

“I am inspired by people who relentlessly give their energy into building a safe and peaceful society based on democratic values; who truly believe in the change, but they also try to improve themselves to be this change,” she said.

Kubayeva has been active since childhood. Born in 1992 in the small village of Kulsary near Aktobe city, she and her family moved to Aktobe four years later to access “more opportunities in the future.”

“My family is quite an average Kazakh family, not very rich, but also not very poor. My mother is a very hard-working woman whose dream was to ensure her children get the best future in growing Kazakhstan with so many opportunities,” Kubayeva said.

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Her passion for reading is one of many things instilled by her parents. “My childhood was full of reading. I remember that my favourite department in every store was the book department and I could spend hours looking at book titles and going over the books. I never went out of a shop without a new book. I asked my relatives to bring me a book as a present. The internet did not exist at that time in Kazakh households,” Kubayeva recalls of her childhood.

She was also an active high school student, taking part in various events. She starred in theatrical performances, sang in a band and danced in a city dance club. She was also active in academics taking part in local Olympiads in such subjects as the history of Kazakhstan, Russian literature and physics.

Freedom to do what you want taught her one important thing, she said.

“I have never thought that our dreams had borders. I grew up with a free mind and I preserved it. I think this is my best achievement throughout all these years,” Kubayeva commented.

Freedom of choice is what she particularly likes about the Peace Foundation. “I am so free in offering my own vision and my ideas are always welcome by the team. Everyone really wants to help interns and they do not just want tasks to be completed. You feel so appreciated, as a very important part of the whole process,” she said.

Studying abroad and immersing herself in different cultures comes easily to Kubayeva, but the mixture of different identities challenged her.

“I easily can integrate into new conditions of different free societies, which is why some societal customs can become very close after some time spent in a country. That is why I feel like a person with many identities. Some may say it is a good thing, it is a result of globalisation and it is what we need to have. However, I feel the need to explore my very first culture, the Kazakh culture, to feel stronger and culturally more confident to live truly a happy life,” Kubayeva said.



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Sarbaz historical medieval warriors battle in Bayanaul


ASTANA – The Sarbaz historical medieval battle became the highlight of the Khan Koryk international youth festival, which attracted thousands of spectators to Bayanaul National Park. Knights with historically accurate 30-40-kilogram armour and arms came from the capital, Almaty, Pavlodar, Kostanai and Bishkek to determine the strongest among them.

With mountains, fresh air, a refreshing lake, beautiful nature and historic background, Bayanaul was an ideal place for the medieval-themed event. The air temperature reached 35 degrees Celsius, yet the participants wore special clothes similar to quilted jackets or very heavy coats and armour. Even sitting in armour was extremely hot, but they had to battle.

Medieval fighters are fanatic about the re-enactment. They are usually tall, heavy, tough guys able to fight and wrestle, because an armoured knight weights 120-160 kilograms. The men are ready to travel several thousand kilometres by bus or train to any country and clash as soon as they arrive and their armour is unpacked, despite weariness, heat or cold. The Kyrgyz team travelled many hours from Bishkek and even didn’t ask for time to rest and eat.

Temir Tumen club chose the 15th century for the activity, because the Kazakh Khanate was established during the period. The club’s armoured knights presented the origin of Kazakh history and its people. Such warriors stood up for the right of the Kazakh people’s independence.

“My first big battle was in Russia. I was standing on grass and my teammates were standing close to me in formation, shoulder to shoulder. I saw numerous enemies in front of me, watching for every movement. Everything around was medieval. Even spectators had medieval clothes. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me and I couldn’t believe that this was not real. I was sure that I was in the 15th century and I was going to fight to the death,” said Temir Tumen member Yerbolat Zhakupov about his first battle.

He finds the events exhilarating.

“All my teammates will agree with me. We pack our armour and arms, get on our bus and go somewhere to forget about everything: work, family, heavy traffic, Internet, news and problems. Everyday life becomes useless and uninteresting; when we are together, we are going to fight!” he noted.

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“People at such festivals are very friendly. Everybody hugs their opponent after the battle. We usually live in one place. We share our food and drink with each other. Every club tries to organise at least one event per year and invite other clubs to their region,” he added.

Temir Tumen club member and individual combat champion Yuriy Chuguyevskiy talked about the thrill of the fight.

“It is never too late to stop fighting or refuse to participate in the battle and I don’t find it dishonourable. Look at social media! There are hundreds of ex-champions of historical medieval battles there seeking financial aid. They have serious health problems. Part of them became disabled! I have two little kids and I do help my old mom,” he said.

“I train myself every day at home and go to our club’s gym once a week. Every day I am preparing myself for such battles. I live anticipating one of them. It is my lifestyle: being a knight, a heavy armoured warrior who is ready to defend himself, his own family and country and face any challenges. This lifestyle really changes you, making you more confident, manful and kind,” he added.

Despite the cost and time from home, Chuguyevskiy has support for his hobby.

“I have to spend a lot of money on it, but my wife isn’t against it. She is proud of me and cheers for our club,” he said.

Medieval re-enactors face some of the same challenges as the real warriors.

“I had a sneaky feeling before this battle. My wife and I aren’t religious or superstitious people, but we saw some writings on the wall and were sure that something really bad would happen to me. The battles are quite dangerous and all of them end with different traumas for some of the participants. Fortunately, I came back home safe and sound. To be more exact, that was my first battle without any serious trauma,” said Zhakupov.

Every historical medieval fighter dreams of participating in the world championship Battle of Nations, but Kazakh teams currently compete only against their counterparts from Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Ukraine. As the last ones are the best in the world, the local teams have good opponents in defending the honour of their country.



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