October 10, 2008
The other night I went to Justin’s house (Justin is my ten-year old Korean student), to tutor him in English and eat delicious bibimbap with him and his family. Over dinner we had quite an intelligent discussion – mixing English, Korean and Russian – about politics in the US and Kyrgyzstan. His father said that even though he knew very little about the policies of either Obama or McCain, if he were an American he would vote for Obama. His reasoning was that the election of a black man to the US presidency would prove that the US really is a nation of immigrants, a nation for everybody, a nation without prejudice. I heard so many racist comments against blacks when I was in South Korea, that this was a pleasant surprise.
With regards to politics in Kyrgyzstan, Justin’s parents were telling me about the similarities between Bakiev (Kyrgyzstan’s current president) and Akayev (the president who was ousted in Kyrgyzstan’s 2005 revolution). Nepotism was a huge problem under Akayev, with his children holding prominent places in the government. Apparently the situation under Bakiev is even worse, specifically with the power held by Bakiev’s son, Maxim:
There were local elections here in Bishkek this past Sunday. Very few of my students voted; they all fervently believed that there was no reason to vote as the results had already been pre-determined. It was consensus among my students that whoever could pay the President the most money would earn seats in local government, no matter who received the most votes, so why bother? Several students said that if they lived somewhere where their vote counted, “like the US or Russia” (!!!) they would vote, but here in Kyrgyzstan, there’s just no point.
And speaking of voting... my ballot arrived! :-) Perhaps I can finally manage to *not* be disenfranchised in a presidential election. I was able to download the mp3 of the most recent debate between Obama and McCain (better late than never; at least I’m not completely out of touch), and while I continue to be amazed by the fact that the Republicans have an intelligent and articulate sounding candidate, I definitely think Obama won. I understand that repeating your message is something politicians do in order to drive their point home, but the way McCain repeated himself verbatim so many times made him seem to me like a doddering old man. And the whole “that one” thing? Sheesh. Also, citing working across the aisle with that party-traitor Joe Lieberman is hardly a good example!
On a totally different note, the theme of the module I’ve been teaching this past week in my advanced class was honesty and dishonesty, which of course meant we did a lot of talking about boyfriends/girlfriends and husbands/wives cheating on each other. Today one of my students said that all husbands will cheat, and that it’s a wife’s duty to ignore the cheating, and not to confront him, but to do her best to be the perfect wife in order to lure him back. Everyone else in the class agreed with her (and there were five women and men in that class). Depressing! (And given recent events, duly so.)
What else? Minsk, my new kitten, continues to have diarrhea. Instead of receiving medicine at the vet, my vet wrote down the name of a medication to buy at the pharmacy – as in the pharmacy where *humans* buy their meds – and instructed me to give the cat 1/6 of a pill twice a day. I hope it works. With the lack of the “good” cat litter at my pet store and five cats in my apartment, Minsk’s digestive problems are definitely raising the odor level in my home. Gross, huh? And of course, I can’t even begin to look for a home for the poor girl until she’s healthy and 100% litter box trained. She uses the box about 90% of the time, which is an improvement over 0%, but still not acceptable. Sigh. But on the plus side, she is incredibly sweet and snuggly – the others are quite jealous!