“Today it must be -25. I took the bus to the institute, and my hands were so cold that I couldn’t use them to get the 40 tenge bus fare out of my pocket.” That is how Associate Professor Mary Jo Kietzman Gifford describes her first day traveling to her office at Semey State Pedagogical Institute. It is a teacher-training college in Semey (formerly Sempalatinsk) Kazakhstan.
Her Fulbright Fellowship will allow Kietzman Gifford to spend the next six months teaching classes and running a drama club.
“With the club, I hope to get students to put on a performance of some sort that is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.”
.Part of her job here will also be working with teachers … impressing upon them the need for teaching literature as a part of language study.
“I’ve learned that many of the graduates return to villages and teach English in local schools,” said Kietzman Gifford. “I’ve been told that I will be able to visit some of these village schools. I plan to write a blog entry on what I will be doing at the school and posting it within a few days.”
Her blog is titled News and Views from Oriental Siberia: Or, How an American Family Survived a Winter in Coldest Kazakhstan
Kietzman Gifford is being accompanied by her husband and young daughter Katya. Her daughter also has a blog. Both of the blogs have links to the UM-Flint English Department: http://www.umflint.edu/english/
One observation that Kietzman Gifford has already made is that there are a lot of similarities between Flint and Semey. To find out what they are, just check in to her blog.
By the way, 40 tenge equals about 30cents.