Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tending to the details of being a foreigner - Friday, 2 October 2009

Tending to the details of being a foreigner
After the tea we waited for the accountant, and I let Sophia play on the playground outside. It is small, but enough to content her and the two other boys who were playing there. I asked one boy if he spoke English, he said yes, and we conversed a bit in English.

Then the accountant, a nice Kazakh woman in her early 30s who struggles with her English, got us a taxi--by this I mean some random Kazakh guy who wanted to make money. There were no seatbelts in the back. He took us to the notary, which is notarius in Russian. There we sat for a long time while the accountant talked in Russian to the notary. We signed some rather official documents in the presence of the notary, making it official that we consented to let the accountant open a bank account for us. How interesting being foreign. We had no idea what we were signing, but because we did it in front of a notary--who spoke no English--whatever we signed is official and binding. Luckily, I do trust the accountant and I think it is better for her to deal with the bank than for us, but it is interesting how much in the dark I was, and how my signature still mattered, despite my inability to understand what I was signing.

During this time Sophia found a caterpillar outside--a lovely blue-and-yellow one, the colors of the Kazakhstan flag--and then dropped it down a drain. She got very dirty trying to get it out, an attempt at which she failed.

Then the principal picked us up, he took the American teacher home, and then we went to the bank so the accountant could take out money to reimburse me for my travel and visa expenses. That took about an hour, and Sophia and I played at a tiny playground in front of a KFC. (Yes, Astana has a Kentucky Fried Chicken!)

Overall, my first day experience was pleasant. The school is very clean, and everybody is very friendly, even if they don't speak English. The performances were a delight to see, and it was nice to have a tea in honor of Teacher's Day. I have a feeling that things will be hectic--there seems to be little in the way of curriculum or classroom management, and the children speak very little English--but I relish a challenge and am ready to start working again.

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