School Part 2

Here’s the continuation of last week’s Deleted Scene: School, Part I.  I’ve “creatively” titled this one School Part 2.  [I know.  It’s been a busy few weeks here.  I’ll try to get my creative juices flowing before it’s time for School Part 3.]

This scene, btw, was deleted because the story is of my initial confusion amidst so much that was new.  And, as you might imagine, I have LOTS of those stories, at least from my first year. But by including all of them I’d flattened and slowed the pace of the overall story.



By the second week of school, the schedule was still unsettled. But, relying on Gulzhahan’s nightly phone call, I knew when to show up.


“You must come at eight-thirty. I’ll meet you in the lounge.” Or, “you needn’t come until eleven.” Or even, “You needn’t come tomorrow.”  I felt safe in her hands.


The first class I knew I’d teach was one with Gulzhahan — team teaching, the Peace Corps called it — and I looked forward to seeing how she ran a class.


“The USA, Great Britain, and Kazakhstan is our theme for the fourth-year students,” Gulzhahan had told me proudly during our train trip to Zhezkazgan.

“What about those topics?” I’d asked, curious. A bit broad, it seemed to me.

“Mountains and rivers. You can teach us names of mountains and rivers in the USA.

Thanks to for the image
Thanks to for the image


Great. That’ll take about fifteen minutes, I thought to myself. Do I even know enough about our mountains and rivers to fill fifteen minutes?


Now she said it again. “Our theme for our fourth year students this semester is the USA, Great Britain, and Kazakhstan.”


“But what classes will I teach? What are they called? ”


“You’ll teach English 49, English 40, and English 31. Maybe some others.” Gulzhahan informed me earnestly. “English 49 is my group. They are good students. You will like them.”


My head was spinning.


“But what will I teach them?” I was thinking along the lines of “Learning English from Newspapers and Magazines.” Or perhaps “Learning English from the Movies.” I was determined to find a way to work American movies into their life and mine, as had other Peace Corps volunteers. I’d already sent word to my friends in the US to start sending videos and DVDs of movies they thought reflected America well.


By the time I joined the class, Gulzhahan’s English 49 students were learning religious and national holidays (of the USA, Great Britain, and Kazakhstan). So, during our team teaching class on Tuesdays, I taught the US holidays. Gulzhahan, in her weekly class with them, taught the holidays of the UK.


And in a class I ran by myself — an optional speaking practice class held during the last period on Friday mornings when attendance was, well, optional — the students taught me the religious and national holidays of Kazakhstan.


The same division worked when we studied other systems of these countries: arts & theater, history, media, government. And, when we got to geography, I did get to teach them about US mountains and rivers. It took me nearly twenty minutes.


I say in my book that often expectations are a set up for disappointment.  Would you say an expectation of mine was also a cause of my confusion? If so, what was the expectation here? 


9 Responses

  1. David
    | Reply

    I like these deleted scenes, it’s a fun look into the book.

  2. Kelly Boyer Sagert
    | Reply

    Without a doubt, I’d try to get these deleted stories published somewhere online, to attract interest to your book and to broaden your platform/exposure . . .

    You’d have to give a bit of context about the overall story, but not much, and then you could lead into one of these anecdotes.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Kelly, I’ve been scouring Writers’ Market 2010 (my latest edition) and never even thought of the online market. Thanks for that. Your latest post is quite powerful. And important. Thanks for stopping in.

      • Kelly Boyer Sagert
        | Reply

        Thanks much for the compliment! Very much appreciated. And, I suggest online markets because they can be a faster way to build a platform.

  3. Lois
    | Reply

    Hi Janet
    I just finished reading your Peace Corps memoir on Kazakhstan. I enjoyed it. Is it true that you are working on a book about bride-stealing? I hear that practice unfortunately takes place in Mexico, also.
    Deleted scenes are good, and I’ll bet you will recall more of them as time goes by. Looking forward to your next book.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hello Lois. Actually, all the Deleted Scenes are written. They were included in earlier versions of teh book, but cut to make the book flow more smoothly. There are only so many examples of each point I wanted to make that are needed; all the rest are extraneous. So, I’ll get them posted as I run out of other ideas. And, eventually, they’ll be packed together into an inexpensive eBook.

  4. Lois
    | Reply

    What I really wanted to ask,
    Do you know, or does anyone reading this blog know whether the name
    Kazakhstan or Kazakh is the root of, or related to the Russian word Cossack? It’s hard for me to imagine that those words would not be related somehow.
    Also the photos I have seen of Kazakhstan look quite similar to photos of Mongolia. The yurts even look very similar. I would imagine that there are many cultural similarities.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hello Lois. Thanks for a great question. The two words are very different, AND they are related. Here’s how I understand the two terms. The Kazakhs were warriors and known for their strength in battle. The Cossacks were Russian mercenaries and, in looking for a word to call themselves, used the term they had heard for these mighty warriors. Of course, all this was long before Russia took over the Kazakh land (mid 1800s). Interestingly, there is a large enclave of Cossacks living now in Almaty. (Modern-day Cossacks, of course, descendants of this tight group) So, we could say there is a Kazakhstani Cossack community. Now, that’s a tongue-twister. As for your question about the Mongolian similarities, you are right. That goes back to Ghengis Kahn’s push through the Kazakh land back in the 1200s. The original inhabitants of land we call Kazakhstan were blonde and blue-eyed: the Saks. They died out when the Turks came through. Then, with Ghengis Khan’s invasion, the Turkic line was melded with Mongolian. Today, Kazakhs tend to be proud of their Mongolian connection. There’s a “blue bone” vs. “white bone” distinction made, with one being descended from Monglians and the other not having that blood line. AND I never met any Kazakh who didn’t claim to be descended from Ghengis Khan, whom they revere as a great leader. All this info is in another Deleted Scene. I’m posting these in chronological order for the most part.

      Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a blog you'd like to share? I use CommentLuv Click here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.