Saturday, August 9, 2008

Turkmenistan TV Youtube Clip

Check this out. This was on Turkmenistan national tv.

Turkmenistan TV Video

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 12 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Tuesday Night:

Hey Everyone!

To add on to our exciting day yesterday, we visited our new friend, Aman's house. It was so interesting visiting a traditional Turkmen home! Aman lives with his wife, Maral, daughter, Anna, and his parents. In Turkmenistan it is expected that one of the sons lives with the parents. You will often find a big pile of shoes near the door of a Turkmen home. As soon as you enter the home you are supposed to take off your shoes an put on slippers. Women believe that if you walk barefoot you will be infertile! Our American friend living here, Danielle was also there. Once she started to walk outside without shoes on and Aman's five-year-old daughter, Anna brought them to her right away. The house doesn't have many chairs and couches, because they often sit on the floor on their beautiful and infamous Turkmen carpets. (Which they have many of)

The meal was AMAZING! Aman's wife, Maral made so much food! First we had small cuts of meat and cheese, olives, cheese wrapped in eggplant, and amazing bread. Then we had duck and plov (rice pilaf) with small pieces of Sturgeon in it. And finally we had larger pieces of Sturgeon, which were DELICIOUS! But of course I had NO room left for it. In Turkmenistan, it's hard to go to a meal and plan on only eating a little. Turkmens ask you if you are hungry at least ten times, and then just make you a plate themselves.

In Turkmenistan, people often shave children's heads until they are five or six years old. They say that if you shave the head when they are young, then their hair will grow back thicker and more beautiful.


We went to the Russian market again for breakfast, which is my favorite thing to do! Then we took a cab to the IREX office. The cars here are very small. We haven't seen many SUVs. Most of the cars are Russian and there are also BMWs and various other small cars. People here are crazy drivers. Streets will sometimes have lines separating the lanes, but the drivers never follow the lines. Also most of the cars don't have air conditioning, which I am sure you can imagine is not so comfortable in this weather! All the cars are always sliding all over the place. The roads are very slippery and the tires have very little tread.

Another day in the office early in the morning, but we are always greeted by welcoming staff and students with smiles on their faces. The students here are always so eager to learn! In the morning we taught students how to make a virtual house on powerpoint. Another group came to work in imovie, making their own documentaries about the differences between America and Turkmenistan. Then we took our well-needed lunch break at The Coffee House (A common lunch destination). After that, we worked with another group of students making documentaries, this time about Turkmen heroes and athletes. Finally we taught our last lesson of photoshop.

The students we teach are broken up into groups. At the end of each group’s rotation, they take a survey for IREX to see how they are enjoying the class. We have not received a bad review yet! It always makes me feel great when the students thank us profusely every day!
For dinner, we went to a place called five legs. It is a pyramid-shaped building with water flowing down the sides. It has one of the best views of the city. We ate outside, on the balcony, at the top. It was gorgeous outside. All the buildings have lights that change color and make the marble walls glow at night. We had a great view of the Iranian mountains and Turkmenistan’s pride and joy, the world’s BIGGEST flag! Turkmenistan is also home to the world’s biggest carpet. Amazingly, the flag weighs more than the carpet. (As you can imagine, it is a BIG flag!) I hope you are enjoying our posts! Cannot wait to see all of you back in the US!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Day 11 Turkmenistan National Television

Although we may never be famous in the U.S.A. we are now famous in Turkmenistan. A few days ago a camera crew from the Turkmen National T.V. station followed us for a day and interviewed us as well. Last night their was a news story on our experience in Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan, roughly the size of California and home to some 5 million plus residents. Although we have not seen the television special, our students have been coming in all day telling us that we were on tv with all of our english translated into native Turkmen language. We really look forward to seeing the special and are all honored to be a part of it. Apparantly they listed Mr. Shields' email address on the T.V. so he is expecting an email or two this week. We are hoping to get a copy to make it a part of our documentary to show students and other Americans upon our arrival home.

In other news our presentations on Photoshop, Word and iMovie/Garageband have been a huge hit in Turkmenistan. We are impacting so many students each day. Although the work days are long and take a lot of effort, they are well worth it. The students are very eager to learn and cooperative.

Yesterday we visitied a traditional Turkmenistan yurt for lunch. A yurt is a traditional hut that is built in the desert out of wood and other natural materials. Temperatures inside the yurt manage to stay quite cool. We were able to dress up in traditional Turkmenistan clothes and hat while we ate a very nice meal sitting on the ground surrounded by the infamous Turkmen carpets.

They highlight of yesterday might have been our trip to the old stadium in town. We had actually taken a taxi to go and try to work out and found that their were thousands of people jam packed into the stadium. They were having a send off ceremony for the athletes that were headed to the Bejing Olympics. It was one of the most colorful and interesting experiences I've ever witnesses. There was song after song and hundreds of Turkmenistan dancers dancing on the field. At the same time there were hundreds of athletes, boxing, playing ping pong, tennis, running track, basketball, judo and even swinging swords all while running around the track. The ceremony lasted for around 2 hours. There was one section of the crowd that must have rehearsed for a year as they held up colored signs in a coordinated fashion to represent the various sections of the Turkmenistan flag. Sometimes the best things in life seem to happen when you do not expect them. Untill next time this is Anna, Kenny and Mr. Shields signing off from Central Asia!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Days 8-10

On Saturday we slept in a little and then we went to breakfast at a restaurant called, "Coffee House". After breakfast we went to the Russian Market and the mall to shop around for souvenirs. We saw lots of clothes shops that had many t-shirts and jeans. Most of the t-shirts had American brand names on it and we learned that this was because Turkmenistan exports lots of clothes for these companies. We found a few t-shirts that said Turkmenistan on them, so we bought a few. Then we went to a traditional lunch. At six o'clock we went to the Tech Age Girls hotel to attend their closing ceremony. There they presented a power point about the Tech Age Girls program and what they learned. They also presented the two iMovies that they created during our training with them. They were a big hit. After the presentations we had dinner, talked, and took many pictures with all of the Tech Age girls. When it was over we went out to a hang out spot to have ice cream and fun games. We bowled for a while and then went back to our hotel and went to bed.

On Sunday we woke up at 6:30 am to go to the big market on the outskirts of the city. At the market we got to see much of the Turkmenistan culture as we mingled with the locals. We saw things being sold from traditional stuff to home goods that you can see in the United States. So there was a big variety. We Also were able to see the animal market there. This was very interesting because we saw many camels, cows and some goats being preped to be transported. After seeing everything we went back to the area where they sold the traditional Turkmen items. Now to spend our manats. We bought all kinds of souvenirs like sheep hats, braclets made from camel hair, little stuffe animal camels, jewlery, and more. We had lots of fun and got some good deals thanks to Mehri's bargaining skills. After buying all of our souvenirs we went to the Coffee House for Brunch. Then we decided to go back to the hotel and relax by the pool and to take some short naps. That evening we took a taxi to Myles' house for a barbeque. We ate dinner and talked for a while, then we watched a few episodes of the office. Afterwards, we went back to our hotel and went to bed.

Today we ate breakfast at our hotel and then went to Irex to continue our teaching. We worked with multiple groups on creating iMovies and Anna taught another group how to make Pop Art in Photoshop. Then in the afternoon while Anna was teaching another group, Mr. Shields and Kenny presented our "Life in the US" documentary to a group called, POET. That night we went out for dinner and had lots of fun before returning to our hotel.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday July 25th (Day 7)

Last night we had a chance to present in front of about 30 Turkmenistan teachers from all over the country at a branch of the U.S. Embassy. We demonstrated Garageband, iMovie and Photobooth. The teachers were very enthusiastic and eager to learn. After the presentation we talked about education in America and answered some questions. We encouraged them to stay positive and someday soon they will have Macs in their school. It was nice for us earlier in the day to have lunch with the teachers and talk about some of the differences in our classrooms. I learned a lot from our sessions.

Today Anna continued to teach her advanced Photoshop class and Kenny taught his Advanced Powerpoint. Turkmenistan students are responding very well to their lessons and it is quite impressive to see our students as such stong role models. Today was also our last session with the Tech Age Girl program. We taught them how to make a documentary and soundtrack in iMovie and Garageband. They will present their movies tonight and we will of course be there to watch.

This morning for breakfast we stopped by the local market to pick up some breakfast. We got some fresh bread, fruit and cheese. We have been in so many taxi's this week that it is hard to count. We have been so busy since our arrival I haven't even seen our pool yet. We are going to swim this weekend and the pool offers a nice view of the large mountains that seperate Turkmenistan and Iran. We are all enjoying ourselves and experiencing one of the most unique cultures in the world. We hope to make another post sometime this weekend and I'll try and get some pictures up later from this post but it is not easy to get pictures on the internet b/c of the low bandwidth connections. Talk to you soon! Thanks for all of the posts. It is nice to see that people are following our trip back home.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Days 456 Turkmenistan

On Tuesday we finally arrived in Turkmenistan after quite a bit of flying. We arrived at midnight and awoke early on Wednesday to begin our program. On Wednesday we had the opportunity to teach the TAG (Tech Age Girls) Advanced Powerpoint and Photoshop. The girls worked really hard and loved the lessons. I will post our pictures with them on this blog. They were the best students I have ever hadand they produced great results. Wednesday was fun with a lot of driving around. We found out that seatbelts are not quite as popular in Turkmenistan as they are in the United States. Actually it seems to offend some cab drivers if you put it on. Gas is apparantly very cheap here so taxi is the cheapest way to get around. It is also interesting that every car is a taxi. We played some Turkmenistan basketball last night and it was a lot of fun. We had the traditional watermelon at halftime. It is very hot with no humidity here. Mehri said that it was about 135 degrees the other day. We find that hard to believe but I'm sure she is correct.

Today (Thursday) we woke up and had a nice breakfast at the hotel. Then we went to meet our on-line forum participants from this school year. We were very excited to meet them and show them our documentary, "The Road to Turkmenistan". They really enjoyed the fim and can't wait until next week when we work with them and show them how to use iMovie and Garageband. Life in Turkmenistan is very interesting. The people are very nice and the buildings are very beautiful and unlike anything we have ever seen. Kenny and Anna are both doing such a wonderful job teaching and they are like quasi-celebreties here. The Turkmen kids adore them and it is very neat to see. Well, we are off to lunch with some Turkmenistan teachers and then later on today we will be teaching effective lesson planning and the integration of technology into lessons to a group of teachers from Turkmenistan. I hope to get internet access again soon. It is tricky here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 3 Monday, July 21 Washington D.C.

Today started very early and was extremely busy. We started our morning by meeting with an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of State. There was quite an audience that was interested in our trip. Since our trip is funded by the State Department, they are very interested in the details of our trip. Next it was a trip to Capitol Hill where we met with senator Arlon Spector's team to discuss our trip. After that we went on a private tour of the capitol building. We never knew there was an underground world that connects the Senate, House and Capitol building. We toured the capitol and saw some great history about our nation. Who knew that there was a secret spot that John Adams used to place his desk where he could listen to other senators from across the room. On the way to one of our meetings we even stopped by Senator Obama's office for a visit. Unfortunately he wasn't there, we learned he is actually in Central Asia right now closer to where we are going. Towards the end of the day we met with Senator Casey's staff to discuss our trip. We had a chance to tour all 3 Senate buildings and the capitol above ground and below. Now we are at the airport eagerly awaiting our departure. We leave at 10pm tonight (Monday) and arrive in Turkmenistan at midnight tomorrow. We have one stop in Germany and another pit stop in the middle east before we hit our target of Ashkhabad Turkmenistan. Take a look at our picture of all of us Hatters and Mehri posing in front of Obama's office in the Senate building. The next post we make will come from Central Asia. Wish us luck!!!!