Bishkek Congress of Women
Working with a translator is always difficult. For One thing, you could never be sure that they’re actually translating what you actually said!
I’ve had this problem a number of times with them putting their own spin on what you’re saying particularly if they’re not professional translators.
Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan was probably the most difficult assignment that I have ever had.
I was working with a group of women who were so backward compared to our standards that it was almost impossible to bridge the gap.
I did give two 4 hour seminars for 70 women. Far too long but that's what the client insisted on.
I visited a lot of the cafés and restaurants run by women giving advice where I could but it was very difficult.
My problems in Bishkek were compounded by the fact that the head of Congress was very anxious to use me to promote her own political agenda so she would drag me to the radio stations and such like for interviews and totally take over and talk about her agenda and I was just kind of decoration!
Two seminars at the university and a long meeting with teachers and department heads were much more successful as the hospitality department was quite new and they were all very enthusiastic to learn.
I’m not sure I did a lot of good on that particular assignment, I hope I did but I can’t say was my best work. What did come out of it was I met US members of Habitat For Humanity who were really struggling.
The people of Bishkek could not understand why someone would do something for nothing! These wonderful young Americans were having serious difficulties find volunteers and as I had been working with the university teaching the teachers how to teach Weston ideas and standards I was able to help them by giving a couple of seminars at the University on Habitat’s role.
This enabled them to get some recruits for Habitat for Humanity and allowed their program to succeed
Habitat was not doing builds but they were doing renovations, helping people to have indoor plumbing, etc which was a big issue, that kind of thing.
it was a very low-scale Habitat, not the big builds that we associate with Habitat. However, I do believe that it was a success and I did form a great relationship with these young people and I follow their activities around the world to this day.
A field trip to a faraway hotel involved spending a night in a yurt and my having to wear traditional married women's clothing because the Nomads had a habit of kidnapping single women!
Making tea in the Samovar
The transSiberia train
Outdoor cafes are popular everywhere