Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens

by Salem Union
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Inspire the Growth of Kazakhstan's Global Citizens
Some of our teachers, briefed and ready to go!
Some of our teachers, briefed and ready to go!

Every year, we hold this conference at Salem for English teachers in the city, to pass on those things that we consider essential - primarily the 'softer skills' that will enable students to better engage with the material, their teacher, and their classmates.

This year, free of Covid-related restrictions for the first time, we were able to return to a full capacity in-person event, much to everyone's excitement! A total of 65 participants were able to take part and learn a whole lot from the widest range of speakers we've ever had. 

This included some of our teachers, who have been receiving training as part of their roles with us, and are now in a position to pass it on to others in a formal setting - another great sign of growth!

The event included a number of seminars on key teaching topics, as well as a number of personal reflective tasks and a range of group activities. There was a lot of interaction and attentiveness, as participants soaked up the great content.

And people are already asking about next year's event!

Attention-holding seminars and talks were key
Attention-holding seminars and talks were key
Reflecting on things is a crucial part of learning
Reflecting on things is a crucial part of learning
Group activities were also very important
Group activities were also very important
Lots of the event was shared on social media!
Lots of the event was shared on social media!
Everyone was keen to get the very most from it all
Everyone was keen to get the very most from it all

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At the end of December, Salem hosted the New Year party for our friends at the social club for people with disabilities. After months of being locked down as perceived vulnerable people, it was a massive event for them to be able to get together and celebrate the forthcoming new year. 

However, knowing their history, this was also a landmark in other ways. These wonderful individuals and their patient persevering parents and carers have to constantly fight hard: to get around the city, to be accepted in society, and to be recognised as real people with real lives. [The normal work for someone with a disability here is still based on the word 'invalid', or not valid, and that mindset still too often prevails.] They are used to being on the receiving end, which means that they can easily take the view that someone else should be doing everything for them.

Over the years, we have been able to arrange for a programme of entertainment to be put on for their New Year event, and more recently they themselves have found groups willing to come and put on a show for them.

But this year marked the first time they have organised and hosted an event for themselves, running their own games, having people from among their number dressing up in the key role of Santa, and not simply watching someone else's performance. This is another big step forward towards independence, demonstrating the changing mindset that enables taking initiative rather than always being the victim.

Their joy was evident as they were treated with a varied program of songs, games and competitions, entertainment and food. 

And, as we reflected on the journey this represents, we fully shared the joy too.

All those present for the party
All those present for the party

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Salem's gates: then and now
Salem's gates: then and now

We have continued to mark our anniversary throughout 2021, 25 years after Salem was first registered back in June 1996. We recently posted an image of the Salem gates, which many people in the city are very familiar with, on our Instagram account, highlighting how the current view is so different from 25 years ago. One of those who commented on it said this:

"My first step into social action started at Salem Social Village, as did much friendship and my love of English. Thank you for the knowledge and experience which you share, for the lovely creative atmosphere you foster, and the great projects that you run. 25 years is a long time, and during that period a huge number of very satisfied students, volunteers, and others have greatly benefitted from your projects. I wish Salem a prosperous future, realising new ideas, helping yet more students, and being accepted by even more of society. With love from the depths of my soul!"

Meanwhile, our long-standing presence as an English centre in the city means our classes are now spanning the generations! Some of the parents of our younger students tell us that when they were their age, they also studied at Salem, and with pride are now sending their own children to us.

One of our students, Sabrina, has been studying at Salem for about a year, and is already dreaming of becoming an English teacher with us - which is great to hear! Recently, Sabrina was looking through some of her Mum's old things and found a certificate of completion of an English course from 1999. And can you guess who was it who issued Sabrina's Mum, Dilfuza, with that certificate? Salem of course!

The certificates have changed a fair bit over time, but such finds are a great confirmation of the foundations on which we build. We're very proud to be trusted by so many parents with their own children, continuing the quality education that they themselves often still fondly remember. Their history is our history, and there's still much more of it to write!

An English certificate from Salem from 1999!
An English certificate from Salem from 1999!
A 3-day floorball camp held at Salem this summer
A 3-day floorball camp held at Salem this summer
It was a great way for youngsters to fill hot days
It was a great way for youngsters to fill hot days
Despite the heat, everyone had a great time!
Despite the heat, everyone had a great time!

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Activity Camp in full swing
Activity Camp in full swing

It was back in June 1996 that Salem Union, the registered charity organisation that runs Salem Social Village, was first registered. The 1990s here were a very challenging time in many ways following the end of the Soviet Union, and the city has dramatically changed since then - and so has Salem! We've come a very long way since our small beginnings.

The whole team is very proud to be celebrating this significant mark: a quarter century of operation. However, due to current restrictions, we couldn't hold a big party. Instead, we're having a year of various smaller events to mark the anniversary. One of these was a competition for our English students to win a free course with us by promoting Salem on social media with a short self-produced video (see link below). They all did a great job!

Our English courses continue to go from strength to strength, despite the pandemic. This year we even hosted a mini graduation ceremony for those students finishing our final course at Advanced level. They loved the chance to dress up and have their great achievements recognized! And now that the worst of the lockdown restrictions are hopefully behind us, this summer semester has been one of the largest by student numbers we've ever had!

Meanwhile, the AIDS Xperience continues to serve the young people of the city. This experiential simulation educates people about dangers and descrimination by taking them on a journey through the life of someone at risk of HIV/AIDS. It is now being jointly managed by Salem and the city AIDS Centre. It's rewarding when people's attitudes are challenged and their awareness improved.

Recently, Salem was able to host an Activity Camp for children from disadvantaged backgrounds organized by our friends at Mayak (Lighthouse), another local NGO in the city. With school holidays lasting three months here, camps or activity weeks like this play a big part in the summer timetable, but for those on the edges there are often few opportunities. They had a lot of fun doing all sorts of things, and we were very happy to help - and that they all seemed to enjoy their lunch in our cafe each day!

Everyone having a great time together!
Everyone having a great time together!
Some recent visitors to our AIDS Xperience
Some recent visitors to our AIDS Xperience
The board listing all our English courses
The board listing all our English courses
Graduates from our final course at Advanced level
Graduates from our final course at Advanced level
More certificates recently issued to our students
More certificates recently issued to our students

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Taking in one of the conference sessions
Taking in one of the conference sessions

Like with many parts of the world just now, things are still somewhat restricted in Kazakhstan at the moment due to Covid. However, unlike for some, there is enough freedom to hold events in small groups, so long as certain limits are not exceeded.

And so it was that we were able to avoid moving to an online event for Salem Social Village's annual conference for English Teachers in the city this year. As ever there was lots of interest, but we kept it small. Instead of the normal plenary sessions, we structured everything around multiple small seminars.

This meant that we were able to put on a viable event within the rules of what was allowed, and cover a greater variety of topics than ever before. The event had a very different feel to it, unsurprisingly, but feedback was again very positive, with many commenting on how helpful it was to focus in on the softer side of education, surrounding attitudes, identity, respect and so on.

There are lots of things we at Salem still can't do due to COVID restrictions, but it's rewarding to be able to get on with those things that we can do! Investing in those who are educating the city's next generation is always worthwhile.

The attendees all together - but only outside!
The attendees all together - but only outside!
Gathering inspiration
Gathering inspiration
Gaining new knowledge
Gaining new knowledge

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Organization Information

Salem Union

Location: Shymkent, South Kazakhstan - Kazakhstan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ssvshymkent
Project Leader:
Tim Munday
Shymkent, South Kazakhstan Kazakhstan
$62,861 raised of $75,000 goal
 
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