My first Kazakh host family was in Kapchagay during the Peace Corps Pre-Service Training. Their job was to teach
me Kazakh and learn about Kazakh food and culture. They were a unique
family but nothing like my Kazakh host family in Karatau.
Kazakhs in the south are very different from their counterparts in
the Almaty area. When I met the Orazimbetovs for the first, they had
prepared an apartment for me. But by the late afternoon, I had moved
in with the Orazimbetovs. Azan, the School Director, thought it
would be easier for me to live with a family. He was right. I could
not cook any meals from scratch.
The first night was memorable. I can still remember the palau
(pilaf) my host sisters made. It was very delicious. I had eight
host sisters and one host brother. You can guess it the youngest was
the son aptly named Shurik or "Thank God" in Kazakh.
It was just like a real family. I miss the meals we had together. I
miss Kazakh culture.