A storm last night brought the first whiff of autumn, crisper air and slightly cooler temperatures. And with autumn comes the beginning of school. September 1st is the traditional day for that in Kazakhstan, and I spent the ‘Day of Knowledge’ in the ‘village’ of Turkistan in the South of Kazakhstan. The main part of the ceremonies concerned welcoming the new 1st formers, and saying
goodbye to the soon to be departed 11th formers (Kazakh education system has 11 grades/forms). Speeches by the school leaders, singing and dancing were in hand, including the national anthem and that annoying but catchy ‘Astana’ song you can never escape (what is the name exactly? Anyone got a youtube link?).
Everyone was in their ‘Monday best’, with the boys in suits and the girls in black skirts and white shirts. Their uniforms also include giant white fuzzies in their hair (pretty damn cute!). Some variations on the uniform included light blue scarves or ties, or, more bizarrely, some girls wearing what was basically a French Maid outfit.
Near the end of the festivities the different 1st grade classes were led through a ‘door’ to symbolize their entrance into school while older students gleefully through confetti on them. Afterwards there were no classes the first day, just an special session on Astana, apparently a nationwide occurance.
One of the consequences of the end of summer and the beginning of school/university is the streets are a bit quieter back in Almaty. I was walking through 28-Panfilov Park in town, the centerpiece of which is a magnificent cathedral, when I noticed how much quieter it was…take a look: