Damesh Satova is the 2013-2014 Kazakh FLTA at Indiana University.
"I am the current Kazakh FLTA here at Indiana University, so I teach introductory Kazakh and work with intermediate students. I am from Kazakhstan, and currently I live in the capital Astana. My family is in the west, in Aktobe, but I was born in the southern part of Kazakhstan. In Astana I work as a teacher of English language and am the head of the English language department. We are trying to establish an international baccalaureate program-which is a two year diploma program, and I am CAS coordinator over there. I am taking a gap year from my work now for this Fulbright experience.
One of the projects I am involved in in Kazakhstan is making English, Russian, and Kazakh on the same level so that people use it freely. The main emphasis right now is on teaching Kazakh as a second language, which has not been considered before. Everyone had Kazakh as a first language, so here I am teaching it as a second language and can take those skills back. I started a project last March, currently on hold, so here I will see the materials and how it works. I never had the chance to teach Kazakh as a second language, so this will be very helpful when I am back. I am planning to take graduate-level program at some point and to do English literature when I am back.
My impression of Indiana University so far- I like the people and that people know about Kazakhstan. When I first met Americans in Kazakhstan, people kept asking them what they thought of Kazakhstan before they came here. They would say “I didn’t know about Kazakhstan”. And then I thought when I am here at Indiana University that people would ask about Borat or if we use camels for transport, etc. But it turned out that people here are very aware of Kazakhstan, which was surprising. And people are very helpful, which is also surprising. And the city is nice, it’s about the right size for me. Small enough to feel comfortable and large enough to not get bored.
For my FLTA training I was in Philadelphia. It was very intense because we worked from morning to evening. The first days were introductory, talking about what we always talk about as a teacher, but afterwards we started working on webquests for our students. Of course I think one of the reasons they hold orientation is so you get to meet people, and it was nice to have a big team from Bloomington that arrived together. So it was a good start.
Indiana University students I have met are studying Kazakh for a few reasons. Some intermediate students are doing research, and though I cannot help much on the historical data I can help with finding out other things about Kazakhstan. And there are a few who want to travel there, so that is why they are learning the language."
We wish Damesh the best for her time at Indiana University!