Ways to maintain a cultural connection

One of the biggest concerns that parents have in raising internationally adopted children is how to maintain a connection to their child's country and cultural heritage. Of course, if you have read all the web pages that I have linked to, you are ahead in the game by knowing more about Kazakhstan and its people. I have listed here just a few suggestions. Let me know if you have any others.

Join the Kazakh Aul of the United States [external link]: "The Kazakh Aul of the United States, Association for American & Kazakh Families, aims to establish a cultural center dedicated to educating and enriching the lives of children from Kazakhstan who were adopted by loving American families and who are now growing up in the U.S.A. Together with their families, children will participate in Kazakh heritage camps and cultural education, to develop a deeper sense of knowledge and understanding of their birth culture, how they fit into both the Kazakh and American worlds, and to develop skills that in the future may be used to contribute to both their mother-countries, Kazakhstan and the U.S. The Kazakh Aul of the United States will serve as a cultural bridge to bring together the children of the two enabling countries, helping them be citizens of the world and thereby promoting cross-cultural understanding that will sustain through the generations." They are now selling gifts [external link] , including note cards, jewelry, handmade dolls, and a coloring book. They sponsor an anual summer camp.

Join one of the many E-mail lists and online support groups to find other people who already adopted from Kazakhstan or are somewhere in the process. There you will find out what other parents are doing to maintain their child's heritage and you may find someone living near you.

Attend reunions and get togethers. Some agencies have yearly reunions for their clients. As the number of adoptions from Kazakhstan grows, it is easier to find other families that live close to you, enabling regional celebrations. I think that these types of activities are very important because it helps the children to see other children like them and other families like their's. FRUA [external link] also sponsors meetings, so check with your local chapter. I would be happy to post notices of regional meetings here; no agency sponsored meetings.

  • Kazapalozza is an annual event in June.
  • Kazakh Aul's [external link] annual heritage camp is July 26-31, 2010, at Geneva Point Center in New Hampshire; all details are on their website.
  • 9th Annual Midwest Kazakhstan Family weekend in Dayton, OH on July 24-26; contact me and I will forward the details to you.

Join the Kazakh language/culture/music classes being held in NYC at the West Park Church, West 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, at 2 P.M. every Saturday. There are language classes are for all ages and dombra lessons. E-mail Alia Alhan [e-mail link] for more information. They also have a website at Cultural Center of Kazakhstan, Inc. [external link].

Nauryz Festivals are held at the end of March, celebrating the first day of the new year on the ancient Oriental calendar and the spring equinox. Even though this is a once a year activity, I am going to leave this listing so that you can anticipate events for the next year. If a university near you has an interntional/Russian/Central Asian program, chances are that they are hosting a festival as well.

  • Need music for you Nauryz celebration? Silk Rode Caravan offers a Soundtrack for nauryz [external link].
  • Bloomington, Indiana, March 24, 2007, from 2-7 pm. "The IU Navruz Student Association invites you to the Annual Celebration of Navruz, the New Year Holiday for many of the peoples of Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia, the Caucasus and Turkey."
  • Washington DC, 5 April 2008, 4 PM - 10 PM at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Sponsored by the Kazakhstan Embassy, Kazakh American Association, and the Central Asian Cultural Exchange [external link], with the Kazakh Aul participating. Program: Doors are open at 4 PM. Art exhibit of Akhmet Akhat, the well-known artist of Kazakhstan, 5 PM - concert by ROKSONAKI, the unique neo-traditional avant-garde band from Kazakhstan; 6:30 PM - Kazakh Feast with the most tasteful baursak and other Kazakh delicacies prepared by the ladies of the Diaspora, 7 PM - games, contests and dance. Tickets are $30, children under 12 free, and may be obtained from Brown Paper Tickets [external link]
  • Arlington, Mass., 13 April 2008, starting at 1:30 pm at the Gibbes School. Sponsored by the Kazakh Aul [external link], the fourth annual Nauryz celebration will include an art show, Kobyz performance, games, crafts, Kazakh disco, and a raffle for jewelry. Admission will be adults $18 and children $12 for Aul members, adults $20 and children $15 for non-members. There will be a pot-luck, so contact Heather [e-mail link] to find out what you can bring.
  • Austin, TX, March 20, 2007, 2-4pm between Calhoun and Parlin Halls. Sponsored by UT CREEES [external link].
  • New York City, 22 March 2008, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Naurzy concert. Sponsored by the Cultural Center of Kazakhstan, Inc. [external link] for details.

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Read the Kazakh Kids newsletters, available in PDF. These were written in 2001.

Go to cultural exhibits. In this paragraph I will list exhibits that I know of, so e-mail me [e-mail link] if you know of any. I will list anything from Eastern Europe, CIS, Central Asia, and Mongolia. Check with your local museums and universities.

Send your child to a heritage camp. The only one offered for Kazakhstan is through the Kazakh Aul of the United States [external link]. Those with Kazakh children might want to check into one of the Asian programs, as those deal with cross-cultural issues.

  • Colorado Heritage Camps [external link] for Russian, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. They also have them for African-American, Chinese, East Indian, Filiipino, Korean, Latin American, and Vietnamese heritages.
  • Holt International [external link] is an agency that hosts heritage camps in several locations.
  • Dillon [external link] is another agency that hosts camps in Oklahoma.
  • Adoptive Families magazine [external link] lists Heritage Camps & Culture Days.
  • Concordia Language Villages [external link] in Minnesota. Offers one week exploratory and two week immersion summer sessions in Russian and 12 other languages for ages 7-18. They also have a one month high school and college credit session.

Host an exchange student. Some programs are:

  • World Heritage [external link] Student Exchange Program involves students ages 15 to 18 coming from all over the world, including Kazakhstan and a large number of the CIS countries.
  • American Councils for International Education [external link]: "specializes in the countries of eastern Europe, Russia, and Eurasia. American Councils programs include academic exchange, professional training, institution building, research, materials development, technical assistance, and consulting." They have high school exchange programs.
  • International Student Exchange [external link] for high school students from more than 35 countries.
  • Youth for Understanding [external link] International Exchange is for high school and college age students. They also have a summer program for American students to visit Kazakhstan during the summer.
  • AFS [external link] is an 85 year old volunteer organization "dedicated to building a more just and peaceful world through international student exchange." They have a Russian program.
  • LSSE Marketing [external link] hosting programs range from 3 months (summer) to a full year. They also have an Au Pair program.
  • Center for Cultural Interchange [external link] has a high school program as well as short-term ones.
  • Nacel Open Door [external link] has full year and half year high school programs.
  • Pacific Intercultural Exchange [external link]
  • Aspect Foundation [external link] has had children from Kazakhstan in the past. This is the one I posted to the lists July 2006.
  • Council for Educational Travel, USA [external link] has had students from Kazakhstan.
  • Cultural Homestay International [external link] offers an au pair service, and they do place from Kazakhstan and Russia.

Find a penpal: check out the organization carefully, as some of them are only "dating and marriage" services.

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Sponsor a child: these are the only ones I could find that work in Kazakhstan. Check with your agency as they may have their own program.

  • ACORN [external link]: Abandoned Children and Orphans Resource Network continues the orphan sponsorship program founded by Peace Corps volunteers under the name of Project Smile in Ust-Kamenogorsk.
  • SOS Children's Villages [external link] in Almaty, Astana and Temirtau.
  • Antares Foundation [external link] is a non-profit organization working with orphanages in Petropavlovsk.

Join the Asia Society [external link]. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, educational organization It is headquartered in NYC with regional centers in San Francisco, LA, Houston, and Washington DC and international centers in Hong Kong and Melbourne, Australia and international offices in Shanghai and Manilla. "Through art exhibitions and performances, films, lectures, seminars and conferences, publications and assistance to the media, and materials and programs for students and teachers, the Asia Society presents the uniqueness and diversity of Asia to the American people." They do have a service that will notify you of activities involving Kazakhstan. Years ago the Ambassador from Kazakhstan attended a ball in Houston, and they have sponsored a Kazkah musician's performance in New York City.

Woman's dressSew a traditional costume. Eventually, I will add pattern suggestions here and pictures. But for right now, here are some links to information and pictures. Some sites on the general and cultural links informational pages have pictures as well.

  • Elmira Kochumkulkizi, formerly a student at Washington University, has great pictures of Kirghiz childhood [external link], family pictures [external link], and a wedding [external link]. My Fairy-Tale Kyrgyz Wedding [external link] contains video as well as a description and pictures. All of these are archived versions of the pages, and the pictures may eventually disappear.
  • Kazakh man's costume [external link], follow the "next" links to see woman's costume, man's winter cap, and woman's summer cap.
  • International costumes [external link] by Folkwear. Needless to say, nothing from Kazakhstan, but some of the patterns may be adaptable.
  • Peace Gallery [external link] has several pictures of people and weddings.
  • Costumer's Manifesto [external link] has probably the most complete listing of ethnic costume links. Have fun.
  • Pictures [external link] of 19th century costumes from the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan.
  • You can find lots of sources of Russian and religious costuming online.

yurt pictureBuild a yurt

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Do you like to do needlework? Take a look at the following sites for ideas for knitting, cross stitch, needlepointing and hook rugs.

  • There is a pattern available for a Kazak sweater by Jo Sharp [external link]; if you are interested, just do an internet search and you will find hundreds of sources for it, as a separate pattern as well as in books.
  • Patterns [external link] for a Kazak box top and glasses case; could be used for needlepoint, cross stitch, beading, etc. Free online.
  • Hoffman Distributing [external link] is a cross stitch book distributor. Search for Russia or snow leopard or camel, or anything else you would like. Has many of the designs listed next.
  • Thistle Needleworks [external link] has many Russian patterns. Click on "Other Recent New Books" at top and look for the item number. #7557: In Celebration vol. 1 (Christmas Greetings in Russian & English, inc. a line of nesting dolls), #17042: Russian Pillows I, #23222: Twilight of the Tsar (Faberge Egg w/lily of-the-valley), #24712: Embroidering The Goddesses of Russia (text & charts from antique folk embroidery), #24802: Russian Angel (in costume w/bear, spires in back), #28182: Russian Dolls, #28318: The Enchantment of Winter (ornate purple & gold Faberge Egg with St. Basil's Cathedral), #23819: St. Basil's Cathedral, #28599: Alexandra's Dream (pink Faberge Egg with ornate top and jewels), #28753: Russian Mother and Child (mother, infant, child, spires in back), #32186: Russian Santas.
  • Spin A Yarn has a hand painted rug canvas [external link] and a wool latch hook rug kit [external link].
  • Beth Russell's Traditional Needlepoint: Glorious Rugs, Cushions and Pictures new window link has a Kazakh pattern. You can also order a kit from her website [external link]: there is a picture of the finished product; also available from ABC Stitch Therapy [external link].
  • Cross-point [external link] pillow kit in a traditional Kazakh pattern.
  • Needlepoint Fun [external link] Kazakh charted kit for a needlepoint pillow. Silk screened canvas/kit also available.
  • Landmark Tapestries in the UK has a needlepoint or cross-stitch chart for a pillow with a Kazakh design.

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Page last updated on 19 December 2009.

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