Happy Unity of the People (or People’s Unity) Day!

M12Happy National Unity Day (or Day of the Unity of the People)! It’s interesting – this day normally gets celebrated late fall in other FSU countries — today, in the rest of the FSU world it is International Labor Day and Nationalities Day or Unity Day is in late fall. Why KZ decided to flip it, I’m not really sure. Anyway, it was a beautiful day and so, after meeting up with some friends for brunch, I decided to wander around a little and get my fill of Vitamin D. M3M2I don’t think I’ve ever seen Panfilov Park so crowded before – there were tons of people out and about, sellers selling everything from bubble sets to ballons to flying things that you throw in the air, families with young children, teenagers.
M4I walked up to the square in front of the New Republican Palace  and set up behind the statue of Abai was a yurt. There were performances (singing, dancing, speeches) all afternoon (I actually got a sneak peak of this whole program because my office faces this square and they were doing dress rehearsals all yesterday).
M8M7Now, one thing that I find fascinating is how people identify themselves (or rather, how people are identified). The KZ’i government often makes claim to being diverse and socially inclusive because of how many nationalities are represented in its census. Depending on who or what your source is, this # can range from 100-130 (in an advertisement for today, the # was 130). But no one can name more than 10-12 nationalities (I think here there were 15-ish). Anyway, everyone came out and represented. All sorts of people were wandering around the square, taking pictures with representatives dressed in traditional dress – it was a little “It’s a Small World”-ish for me but interesting nevertheless. M10Took a picture of the Korean booth – represent… Another random observation – Koreans in the States are notorious for “eating and dashing”. Meaning, when you have Koreans come to a social event, e.g., a wedding, it is not atypical (pardon the double negative) to see tables of adults eating and then leaving after the food. It was interesting to see that the Korean booth was the first booth to pack up (a few hours before the other groups). 🙂
M6 M13All in all, a great  start to the four day “work-end” — tomorrow will be a fun-filled day of reading, marking, and more reading. End-of-semester-joys.

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