Saturday, March 3, 2012

Special Olympics Part 1

About one week ago, the Special Olympics came to Astana, and our school was asked last-minute to help out. Things around here always seem to happen last minute. The high-schoolers went on Friday to help at the British international school, while the elementary classes were to go to the opening ceremony. At first, they wanted our high school girls to be part of the opening ceremony, in Kazakh dresses, but then they were able to arrange models for the part, letting down our high school girls.

We hurried to get parents' permission slips and arrange transportation, and on Friday we loaded into the two school vans plus parents' (or drivers') cars and went to Alau, the speed-skating arena that had been built for last winter's Asian Winter Games.

Inside, we found our seats and soon realized that we were about the ONLY spectators. Perhaps a dozen people other than ourselves--and we numbered only about 45 kids, plus teachers and a few parents.

The ceremony was nice--the torch came in, and then the different teams marched in after being announced in Russian, Kazakh, and English. There was one group from Austria, one from Russia, one from Uzbekistan, and several from different Kazakh oblasts. (Oblasts are like states or regions.)

We cheered for all the teams, and we had two school banners to hold up.

Then a bunch of important people made speeches. I was pleased that my listening skills were good enough to decipher when someone was speaking with an accent. One guy stumbled over his Kazakh; his Russian was smoother but I could still discern a definite foreign accent. (I'm not good enough, though, to be able to determine where he was from, though!)

It wasn't anything fancy, but I do think it was a good experience for our students.

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