Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow...Candy...Valentine's Day...Action!

Today, I'm burning five CDs for co-workers and transferring some
listening files to a hard drive for a friend. Most of that is English
materials. I'd probably be a better volunteer if I showed them how to
do all this themselves, and I keep saying I will, but for now it's
easier for me to do it myself.

I don't mind the somewhat light workload today. This past week we had
a … (Cancel that file copying. My friend didn't give me the power cord
for her hard drive) … lot of work. We gave about five presentations at
local schools and colleges about international education. Through a
grant I wrote back in August, we are going to do more career and
education advising at our org, and we want to get the word out. I also
came in to work on Saturday and Sunday, so I think an easy day at the
office is deserved.

I feel needed at my office. There is work to be done. Sometimes too
much work. Sometimes impossible work (find a place to put five bags
full of books on our already full shelves, finding a place to put all
of our DVDs, etc). Sometimes the work is too simple (why do you want
me to scan all these documents). But it's work. And in general, that's
good. But it's bad too. I don't have as much time to work on the big
picture items of our sustainability, project ideas, etc. I still
haven't made a dent in my list of project ideas for Taraz. I'm too
busy keeping busy. Too many things come along. But I'm happy for now.

Yesterday, for example, was Valentine's Day. The youth at our
organization decided they wanted to do an "Action." I don't really
understand this concept. The goal isn't really to help anyone. It's to
just do something. They're idea was that we'd go to the park, round up
all the V-Day couples, and play some funny games with them. Should we
advertise or do some PR for it? No, they said, it's just an action.
The logic of why a couple would want to stop doing couply things and
play games didn't seem to faze them. There was some concern about the
recent weather (-12C), but not enough to prevent them from continuing
with the plan.

So, as skeptical as I was, I love to see youth here doing anything
active that gets them out of the house, so I went along with it. Aidos
bought the supplies and the prizes, and we all gathered at the office
at 3:00 on Sunday. About eight people from our organization came to
participate. We walked over to the park at 4:00 and began our people
search. There were literally about ten people there. Somehow, about
half of them decided to play. And over the course of the hour, a few
more people came bringing our grand total up to ten! Better than I
imagined really.

Now for the games we played. Kazakhstan has a way of taking games and
making them extra awkward. Maybe they're just because they are new to
me, but here's the run down of how it went.

Game 1: Weight-lifting. Each guy (I was assigned a girl because there
were a group of girls with no boys that had come to see what was going
on) had to pick up the girl and do as many squats as he could with her
in his arms. (I lost immediately when the first squat resulted in her
keys jabbing into my stomach.)

Game 2: Balloons. A blown up balloon is put in the guys lap and the
girl has to sit on it to pop it. (Made all the better by Aidos who
bought high quality balloons that were resistant to popping.)

Game 3: Candy dancing. A guy and a girl have to hold a piece of candy
(about the size of a tootsie roll) between them with their mouths. (We
lost when here side melted.)

Game 4: Banana. A banana is held out and a guy and a girl have to peel
and eat it without using their hands. The idea was that they should do
it together to be quicker, but it pretty much ended up the guy taking
bites of it himself. (Did not place this game).

Game 5: Guess the girl. All the guys were blindfolded and then brought
over to where the girls were standing in a line. We had to feel their
feet, body, and hands and guess which girl was ours. This was made
worse by the fact that when I was blindfolded I had no idea which girl
I was supposed to be paired with. I didn't win.

Game 6: Collect kisses. All the girls put on lip stick and had one
minute to give as many kisses as possible to their partner. Then the
guys had to run to Aidos who was standing about 50 yards away. (Why? I
don't know.) But the lipstick didn't really show kisses, especially
after the first couple of them, so most guys ended up with no signs of
any kisses.

Game 7: Cream. Not played. Partners had to draw or write something on
their bodies with sweetened condensed milk. Then they would have to
lick it off. I think this game was canceled due to time constraints
rather than weather, since we had the can already opened.

Game 8: Longest kiss. Partners had to kiss for the longest amount of
time. Okay, for this, there needs to be some background on Kazakhstan,
parks, and public displays of affection (PDA). Most people in Kstan
live with their family until they are married. Even if you move to a
different city, you may live with a cousin, an uncle, a brother, etc.
So when people want to hang out as a couple, they don't go home. They
go out. To the parks. So while I would say the people in Kazakhstan
are repressed in some ways, in parks they seem to feel completely free
to grope all over each other. It's as if the presence of a few trees
makes them invisible to everyone around them. Whereas in America
couples may sit with their arms around each other, probably holding
hand. If we see a couple making out in a park, then it's probably
unsightly. We think, please, get a room. But here those rooms aren't
available. So the couples are always sitting really close, kissing
very affectionately, etc. Maybe other people don't think anything of
it; maybe they don't care what others think. I don't know.

So anyway, just as we are about to start the Longest Kiss game, the
guard for the park tells us it's time for the park to close. Yes, we
knew that the park closed at 5:00, and the current time was 4:55, but
of course it makes sense to save the Longest Kiss game until there are
only five minutes left. But without regard for making the guard wait
on us, we go through with it anyway.

Only two couples decide to participate (being the actual couples); the
other couples were makeshift ones for the day. And I'm imagining a
battle of endurance with some tame kissing, the point being to keep
contact of the lips for as long as possible. But I forget we were in a
park, in Kazakhstan. So when we start the clock the couples begin
eating each other's faces. I guess if they are going to kiss, they
might as well kiss like they mean it, but it was just awkward to stand
around and watch it. (And we had to watch to see if they stopped.) And
while I thought in a longest kiss contest, the kiss would end when the
lips separated, this was apparently not the case. One couple was
smacking at each other. Smack, smack, smack with intense kisses, but
definitely not one kiss. But that didn't matter. The rules seemed to
be, as long as you had the will to stand in the park and make out with
your partner. After ten minutes, one couple finally gives up. But the
other couple continues kissing for at least one full minute. Entirely
bizarre to me, being adverse to intensive public displays of

Thus ended the action. We gave out the prize, went back to the office,
and drank some tea. Certainly, a Valentine's Day to remember.


Anonymous said...

sounds like you had a fun day

Anonymous said...

collect kisses could have been easily won by an st vincent girl with any st paddy's day experience