Karatau, Kazakhstan (Black Mountain)
Karatau, which means Black Mountain in the Kazakh language, was my Peace Corps site for two years. It’s a small Kazakh town with a population of roughly 30,000 people (No one is quite sure what the real population is. When I arrived in Karatau in August, 1997, there may have been up to 35,000-45,000 people. When I left in June, 1999, the population may have ranged from 15,000-25,000). It’s one of the dying towns in Kazakhstan. Many people have left for better jobs in the bigger cities. This in turn has left many vacant buildings. During my two years in Karatau, I watched over 20 of these buildings be demolished around my school and apartment.
Here are also some miscellaneous pictures from Karatau from early Summer, 1998. I just recently found these pictures. This was probably one of the most beautiful times to be in Karatau. Spring came late after a long cold winter. When it did come, things became green immediately. It was during this time that I met some Russian students. They made me some pictures to take back to the states. I was the first American many had seen. A couple of these students became my computer students the next year. I have also included a copy of my speech to the people of Karatau I “had” to give in June, 1999. It was done entirely in Kazakh. I wrote 90 percent of the speech myself. Aizhan, my host sister, helped me with the rest.
My school behind the apartment building (the apartment building was torn down a couple of months later)
A view of the Karatau Hills (foothills of the Karatau Mountains)
Largest building in Karatau
View of the unfinished Turkish mosque
Winter, 1997, in Karatau.
My student, Gulnara (blue coat) selling bread in frigid temperatures
One of my Russian students drew the picture of the Kazakhstani emblem for me