I went in as a grandmother and came home realizing that age is an artificial barrier to friendship. My fellow teachers—each younger than either of my two sons—had become my closest friends.
I ate boiled meat and noodles with my fingers and loved it. I learned to squat over a never-quite-large-enough hole in the floor. And I learned how to make “herring under fur.”
On a higher plane, I began to understand anew the values I hold dear. Visiting different cultures, particularly living among and working beside the local people, can be life-changing.
I speak to these things and more on my Facebook Author Page.
For additional information see David A Gershaw, Person Perception: East vs. West.
Here’s a fascinating article on How Diversity Makes Us Smarter from Scientific American.
Friendship is a recurring theme in my memoir, At Home on the Kazakh Steppe. The friends I made there helped me feel a part of a community, they brought laughter back into my life, and they taught me much.
Here are some questions on friendship that still intrigue me after thirty years.
How important is similarity in friendship?
Does this sentence from researchers Michael Doyle and Mark Smith, that “Our friends are those who are most like ourselves” resonate with you? (Friendship. The encyclopaedia of informal education. 2002. Retrieved September 12, 2010, from http://www. infed.org/biblio/friendship.htm).
How important is it that your friends agree with you? That you share the same values? Like the same food? Watch the same movies? Read the same books? How many of your friends are NOT of your age, your gender, your culture, or do not share the same political affiliation or religion?
Do you share similar views on the hot topics of today? If you discovered a life-long friend differed from you on gun control (vs. Second Ammendment Rights), freedom of choice (vs. pro-Life), or single-payer health care (vs. No socialized medicine), how would it affect your relationship? Notice how the words used to describe each stand differ depending upon one’s position.
Another way to look at the salience of similarity is to look at how much attention these differences between friends are actually given. Does a particular difference (cultural, political, physical, etc.) fade into the background as friendship progresses?
Do you define your friendships by how much time you spend together?
Is your best friend one whom you may not see very often, but when you do, you pick right up where you left off, as though no time at all has transpired because you share a special bond? Or is your best friend someone you see regularly, knowing your life just wouldn’t be the same without her (or him)?
Another aspect of time in relation to friendship is in the amount of time that can elapse with the friendship out of balance. There are some relationships that wouldn’t survive if it felt unequal; and there are those that can survive an extended period of inequity and remain vibrant.
Do your friendships vary across age, gender, or culture?
Can men and women be “just” friends? Can a young person really be friends with one of those of “more mature” years? Can two people from diametrically different cultures be true friends? How about two friends with widely divergent IQs?
Can you have too many best friends?
How many is too many? Someone once wrote that one should not have more than three best friends. “You can’t go to the wall for more than three at a time,” she wrote. I wish I could remember who she was.
Do we choose our friends; do they choose us? Or is it a matter of chemistry, a common history, or a shared task? What binds you to your friends? What keeps you together?
Is maintenance of the friendship equal? Who does more initiating of contact? What is the role of favors in a friendship? How long a period can there be with the relationship out of balance? (Favors returned) Is there negotiation involved?
These are only some of the myriad questions I’ve asked over the years. I find the exploration of them fascinating. And I’m interested in your views on any of them too.
Here is a list of songs about friendship
- Stand By Me, Ben E King
- He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother, The Hollies
- I’ll Stand By You, The Pretenders
- My One True Friend, Better Midler
- Thank You for Being A friend, Andrew Gold
- With A Little Help from my Friends, The Beatles
- Whenever I call you Friend, Kenny Loggins
- You Got a Friend, James Taylor
- You’ve Got a Friend, Carole King
- That’s What Friends Are For, Dionne Warwick et al
Please feel free to write me with additions to this list.
Here is a list of movies about friendship
I’ve pulled from *http://www.friendship.com.au/ and *http://listdose.co/top-10-movies-based-on-theme-of-friendship/ *http://www.tasteofcinema.com/2015/25-great-movies-about-friendship-that-are-worth-viewing/ *http://www.vogue.com/article/best-friendship-movies-vogue-editors
to add to my own list.
- A Little Princess
- American Graffiti (George Lucas, 1973)
- Au revoir les enfants
- The Big Chill
- Boys on the Side
- The Big Chill (Lawrence Kasdan, 1983)
- The Boy in Striped Pajamas
- Boyz n the Hood (John Singleton, 1991)
- The Bridge to Terabithia
- Circle of Friends
- The Color Purple
- The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino, 1978)
- Dil Chahta Hai
- Diner (Barry Levinson, 1982)
- Enchanted April
- Entre Nous
- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
- The First Wives Club
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Ghost World
- Good Will Hunting (Gus Van Sant, 1997)
- Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008)
- Grumpy Old Men (Donald Petrie, 1993)
- How To Make an American Quilt
- Ice Age
- Keeping the Faith (Edward Norton, 2000)
- Liberty Heights (Barry Levinson, 1999)
- The Lion King
- Lord of the Rings
- Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, 1969)
- Midnight Run
- Miss You Already
- Motorcycle Diaries
- My Best Friend’s Wedding
- My Girl
- Now and Then
- Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone, 1984)
- Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
- The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994)
- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
- Soldaat Van Oranje (Paul Verhoeven, 1977)
- Stand by Me (Rob Reiner, 1986)
- Steel Magnolias
- Stuff and Dough (Cristi Puiu, 2001)
- The Sweetest Thing
- Thelma and Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991)
- The Ya Ya Sisterhood
Again, feel free to write me with additions.
And here are a few books and other readings on friendship
- Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
- Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy
- Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg
- The Friendship by Mildred D. Taylor
- Sula by Toni Morrison
- Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
- Finding True Friends Later In Life by Nancy A Shenkar (a blog post)
Please feel free to add to the list
To learn more about this fascinating country, its history, its politics, its culture, and the people who live there visit any of these useful resources:
Sources from within Kazakhstan
The Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Information about the consulate, diplomats and country including its history and geography, people and culture, education, business and government.
The Astana Times
The newspaper from Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana
The Tengri News (in English)
This is the link to the Tengrinews.kz English language news website in Kazakhstan. It covers the latest news and events in Kazakhstan and in the world.
Sources from outside Kazakhstan
An October 2013 article by Sheila Fitzpatrick in The Monthly, a monthly periodical out of Australia
Entymology, History, Politics, Government, Geography, and more.
Lists population, government, military, and economic information for nations recognized by the United States.
THIS IS AMERICA is a weekly public affairs television series hosted by Dennis Wholey. While on location in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Dennis Wholey speaks with U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Kenneth J. Fairfax and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yerzhan Kazykhanov to learn about the unique past and bright future of the young country in Central Asia.
This series includes Shows 1505, 1506, and 1507. Each is about 25 minutes.
RADIO FREE EUROPE/Radio Liberty offers regular postings on Central Asia in general and Kazakhstan in particular.
Ways to Travel
A Few Great Starting Places
AIR BNB EXPLORE THE WORLD
Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone or tablet.
Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.
BROADS ABROAD A Travel Network by Women, for Women
Broads Abroad is a female-only online membership-based social network listing opportunities for members to stay free of charge with like-minded women around the world. Imagine being based for three days (recommended stay) at the home of a fellow member who can tell you about the best local haunts, and will provide you with a room, knowing that in your turn you will welcome a member into your own home. Broads Abroad is for independent female travellers who want a new and authentic travel experience.
COUCHSURFING STAY WITH LOCALS AND MAKE TRAVEL FRIENDS
We envision a world made better by travel and travel made richer by connection. Couchsurfers share their lives with the people they encounter, fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect.
Cross-Cultural Solutions is a nonprofit working to address critical global issues by providing meaningful and sustainable volunteer services to international communities, and contributing responsibly to local economies.
It’s time for a new way to travel – a volunteer vacation. Recharge your spirit by discovering a country through its people — immerse yourself in a culture different from your own while you volunteer your time, engage in hands-on cultural workshops, and connect with fascinating people.
Experience a country in a way that other tours can’t provide. You’ll see the sights, but also dive beneath the surface to truly understand life in a new land – and return home inspired.
The Discover Corps experience explores local people, indigenous culture, historical artifacts, and regional food. Journey to our featured countries and embark on roads less traveled — the ultimate adventure awaits you.
Global Volunteers is a private, non-profit tax-exempt organization working at the invitation and under the direction of local leaders to deliver services in hunger, health, and IQ to partner communities worldwide. From the beginning, Global Volunteers challenged traditional development models by honoring local problem solving and engaging “average” volunteers in direct community service.
For the Over 50 set, check out if you’re interested in paid and volunteer work abroad, living abroad, study abroad and cultural travel overseas.
Road Scholar educational adventures are created by Elderhostel, the not-for-profit world leader in lifelong learning since 1975.
Vaughan Town – where English natives and Spanish professionals lock horns in a fun language-learning experience. Their programs run from Sunday to Friday.
Participants from all over the world exchange conversation with Spaniards and in return for their time and their input, have their full board and lodging covered by the program. The Spaniards, meanwhile, get to improve their fluency in the quickest, most intensive manner possible on earth. Both groups prosper, exchanging culture, conversation, knowledge and friendship during a very special week.
Volunteers for Peace offers placement in international volunteer projects in more than 100 countries around the world including the USA.
While the history of international voluntary service has been focused on opportunities for younger volunteers, there has been a recent shift towards multi-generational projects, available to people of all ages. There is a desire among older volunteers to travel with purpose, serving and engaging with communities around the world. Complementing this is a great need among many communities in developing countries for more experienced volunteers. Older volunteers add important diversity to projects, bringing with them years of professional and personal life experience, and greatly enriching the experiences of other volunteers and communities they serve.
THE PEACE CORPS
THE PEACE CORPS—the hardest job you’ll ever love.
Here are a few vintage video recordings on or from the Peace Corps and the Peace Corps current PR video: Life is Calling, How Far Will You Go?
Here’s the latest PC video, with a great song, Peace by O. A. R.
Here’s a link to other YouTube videos on the Peace Corps.