Kapchagay, Kazakhstan (Summer, 1997)US Peace Corps Kazakhstan
Before serving in Karatau for two years, I had to do my Peace Corps Pre-Service Training in Kapchagay located north of Almaty.
My journey to Kazakhstan started while I was still a student at the University of Washington in Seattle. I knew I was going to be medically discharged from the US Marine Corps in 1996 so I needed to find something to do after I graduated. I chose the US Peace Corps and do not remember why. During the interview process, they asked me what country I wanted to visit. I said Ukraine but there were no slots then. I knew about Kazakhstan from my Near Eastern Studies class in 1993, so I asked about Kazakhstan. Four months later I would be given my invitation to serve with the US Peace Corps in Kazakhstan.
I flew to Washington, DC, in May, 1997, to join the KAZ-5 group.
Read the captions for my story about these images. None of these pictures were edited.
After the swearing in ceremony, all the newly minted Peace Corps Volunteers headed to the Almaty train station the next day. I took the train with the Taraz PCV group and then headed to Karatau with Sharizat.
Unfortunately I got very sick after a month in Karatau. The Head of the English Department, Gulzhamal, and her husband took me back to Almaty where I spent nearly a month recovering. I really appreciated the help of the Peace Corps Medical Officers and PC Staff at the time.
Departure of the Peace Corps from Kazakhstan
In late 2011, the Peace Corps departed Kazakhstan. I will not discuss the reasoning for the departure. You can read it all online but I do not necessarily agree with them. In 2008, Kazakhstan launched their Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools. The NIS schools were quite successful, though with some headaches. The influence the Peace Corps can be seen in the NIS. Just look at the local staff and teachers that now work there. Many had worked or were taught by Peace Corps Volunteers in Kazakhstan.