Okay we are talking about seventy degrees of separation – Fahrenheit that is.
My friend, all around adventurer, teacher and tech guru, Brent Fullerton was the instigator behind Sara and my visit to the international school in Atayrau, Kazakhstan. The last time I saw him we were in Balikpapan Borneo – half a globe away and whole lot warmer.
I should qualify that – the outside temperature may have been warmer but our reception here on the edge of the steppes couldn’t have been more kindhearted. Sara and I felt welcomed and appreciated by the whole staff and student body. What DAIS may lack in size of enrollment (around 80 kids grades pre-K to 8) it more than makes up with a sense of inclusion in this close knit community.
We opted for a home stay instead of spending the week in a hotel – bunking with the Parkers – Konna (rhymes with Donna) and the super hero alias sharing Peter. He middle school language arts and history, she science and math. Good call – we laughed and chatted and made a couple of new friends before the week was out. We also became pals with the Parker’s Husky – Tashi. I did learn though that Tashi has decided that his main job in the household it to guard the laundry drying rack which he does with no small amount of fierceness.
At school we worked mostly from our new book High Impact Writing Clinics and visited each classroom twice from the little pre-K guys through the eighth grade. We ended the residency with the kids performing the work we coproduced in the classroom for the whole student body and their parents and teachers.
Principal Raul and his wife Patsy made sure we were comfortable every step of the way and the aforementioned Brent and his indefatigable better (and I mean way better) half Cheryl were responsible for bike rides, dinners, and accompaniment on hat buying trios to the market.
sara and peter conferring during class
This was our second trip to Kazakhstan and after the experience we had this time we sure hope it won’t be our last. Now, I wouldn’t mind the next time being during the spring – but even this wind swept steppe of a visit left us toasty inside.