Fulbright Data

18 08 2011

Okay, so it’s not in the prettiest format.  But here’s the data that I collected on my project.  Everything is broken down into six pieces.

 

1) Language Use Survey (English)

This is the English translation of the survey that I distributed to over 4000 6th and 7th graders across Kyrgyzstan.  The survey was available in Kyrgyz and Russian.  The students chose whether to take the survey in Kyrgyz or Russian.

2)Survey Demographic Results

This is the basic demographic portrait of the students who participated in the survey.

3)Language Ability Results

These are the results of the language self-assessment table towards the beginning of the survey.

4)Language Attitudes Results (FINAL)

These are the results of the language attitudes questions (the second half of page one).  The results of each question are broken down by ethnicity, class language, town size, oblast, and mother tongue.

5) Language Use Results

 

These are the results of the language use questions (all of page two).  The results of each question are broken down by ethnicity, class language, town size, oblast, and mother tongue.

6) Survey Data Charts Total

 

This includes the results in #4 and #5 above, but not broken down.

 

There’s a lot of data here.  And it’s still in somewhat rough formatting.  And it’s all in English.  But, with a little patience, I think you can get an okay picture of things.  I’m hoping to do a more comprehensive analysis and write-up of the results.  But I’m also starting grad school in another subject, so I don’t know how likely that is to happen.

You’re welcome to use this data any way you like.  Just please give me credit.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

 

Kurt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Oh hai

18 08 2011

So, yeah, I kind of let the blog go after I figured out where I was going to grad school.  My last couple of months in Kyrgyzstan were pretty much collecting and processing data and prepping for my move back to the States.

 

I left Kyrgyzstan in the middle of June and spent a week and a half traveling around Latvia, Lithuania and Poland before flying back to the States on July 1.  After six weeks of waiting tables (and trying to save some money!), I moved up to Philadelphia last week.  I’ll be starting my assistantship at Penn’s Exec Doc program on Monday, and classes start just after Labor Day.

 

Some of you have asked (either here or privately) about seeing the results of my data collection.  I’m working on a way to get it on the Internet.  My goal is to have that done in the next week.  I’ll be sure to post it here when I do.

 

Thanks for following me on my Kyrgyz adventure.  Please let me know if you ever have any questions.

 

Kurt





Announcement!

6 04 2011

Thanks to all of you for being patient with me over the last month.  After leaving India, I spent a week and a half checking out Oman and the UAE.  Then it was back to the US for a whirlwind, two-week graduate school visit.  I checked out six campuses in 11 days (and managed to make a side trip down to North Carolina to see friends and family).

 

After tons of information sessions, campus tours, assistantship interviews and countless questions both given and received, I’ve finally made my decision.

 

Starting in September I’ll be a full time student in the Master’s Program in Higher Education Administration at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

I’m incredibly excited about this, and the decision was not an easy one to come by.  I was lucky to have to choose between several top-notch programs.  At the end, Penn was just the best fit for me.

 

Thanks aplenty to all of you who offered advice, support and assistance during the application and decision process.  It’s been a long road, but I’m happy to report that it’s finished!





Research, Grad School and India, Oh My!

14 03 2011

Well, hello there, patient friends and readers. Admittedly, my truancy merits apology, but too many blog posts start off in just that form, so I’m just going to say HI! and hope that all is forgiven. Do you still love me? Because I still love you.

 

A lot has gone down in the last month or so, so let me try to give you a comprehensive, but not too boring update on the wonderful world that I live in.

 

Grad School:

I’m dealing with an abundance of riches in this department. Of the 12 schools I’ve heard back from (Still waiting on you, Michigan State!), I’ve gotten in to all twelve. I mean, I knew I was cool, but damn! But seriously, I’m overwhelmed by the positive response, and now I’m dealing with the task of now getting to choose where *I* want to go. I’m fairly certain I’ve got it narrowed down to Harvard, Columbia, NYU and Michigan. I’m also visiting UPenn and Northwestern for good measure.

Of the top four, I genuinely think I’d be happy at any of the four schools, and I think it’s going to come down to the type of internship that I get and what type of funding comes through. I should know more on both of those fronts in the next couple of weeks. I have to make my decision by April 15, and y’all will be the first to know. (Well, to be honest, Facebook will probably be the first to know…Actually, come to think of it, maybe my parents should be the first to know…) Either way, the decision’s not too far away. I’m excited!

 

Kyrgyzstan Research:

I have, thanks to the assistance of my awesome assistant Murat and the incredible Kyrgyzstan Peace Corps network, made some great strides in my project. I’ve collected data from four of the country’s seven oblasts. I’ve processed about 2500 surveys, and I anticipate picking up another 5000 or so. A lot of that will depend on whether and how much I’m able to collect from the South. As long as the situation remains stable, I’m hoping to spend a couple of weeks in Osh collecting data from there, Jalalabad, and possibly Batken. I also need to get a lot more data from Bishkek and Chuy, and some more from Issyk-Kul. So I’ve got a busy three months when I get back to K-stan.

The research itself is a lot of fun. I hang out with sixth- and seventh-graders and have them fill out a survey about how they feel about language and how they use language in different situations. I’ve given the same spiel dozens of times now, which has made me damn near fluent in survey Russian. I can say “Circle the number that corresponds to your opinion.” But I still don’t remember the word for “arm.” I can even follow the basic spiel in Kyrgyz now, even though I couldn’t say more than two or three sentences in total.

Most of the school directors that we meet with are super welcoming. A few of them a little too much so! We were visiting one school in southern Issyk-Kul oblast, and the director invited us to have lunch in the teachers’ lounge. Grateful and hungry, we accepted. All was normal until the bottle of vodka came out. Vodka! At lunch! At a school! Awkward, right? Then there was the time that one of the teachers in Kochkor pulled me out of the survey (which was fine, because Murat was conducting it in Kyrgyz), took me out into the hallway and presented me with two students holding hand-written resumes, and asked me to give them jobs on my project. I demurred as graciously as I could, but I felt horrible having to say no.

It’s not all business, though. The Peace Corps TEFL network has been invaluable to me. They’ve welcomed me into their schools and have provided friendly faces and company in villages small and large across the country. My funniest Peace Corps interaction occurred in Talas, when I was hanging out with several volunteers on a weekend. I was presented with the “Talas Oblast Volunteer of the Month” award for my general awesomeness. Unfortunately, upon presentation, the award promptly self-destructed, apparently unable to accept being given to a non-PCV. Sorry, Talas!

I don’t have any actual data yet. I’m holding off on analysis until I’ve collected another couple thousand surveys. I can tell you that data entry takes a damn long time. But it’s oddly therapeutic.

 

INDIA!

Last Sunday I flew from Almaty to Goa to participate in the USIEF South/Central Asia Fulbright Conference. After transiting in Sharjah, Dennis and I landed in Goa at about 430am. And it was warmer than I’d been in six months! In the car from the airport to the hotel, we rolled down the windows so we could see the landscape. The driver asked us if we were hot and wanted to turn the A/C on. We couldn’t have shouted no quicker if we’d tried, and we explained that we hadn’t felt temperatures above 45 degrees or so in months.

The conference was excellent. It was great to be surrounded by dozens of other researchers sharing stories and trials. Even though the Central Asians were a tiny minority, we still managed to make an impression.

And Goa is gorgeous. Thursday, the day after the conference ended, Dennis and I and three other Central Asian Fulbrighters headed about an hour north of Panaji to spend the day on the beach. It wasn’t unspoilt paradise, for sure (Hippies, Hippies, everywhere!), but it was still a beautiful time seaside. And the food! Fresh seafood curry, pork vindaloo, calamari, naan…so many things that I can’t get (or can’t get for cheap) in Kyrgyzstan.

 

…And more!

On Friday, I flew from Goa to Sharjah to spend a little time in the UAE. And that, my friends, will be my next entry. Which, I’m fairly certain won’t take a month for me to post. At least I hope not. I’ll see many of you over the next couple of weeks in the States. Can’t wait!





America-bound!

22 02 2011

So, I’m overdue a long post about what it’s like to to my fieldwork here in Kyrgyzstan.  And that should be rectified by the end of the week.  But here’s what I’ve been sorting out the last few days:

 

I’m going to be back in the States for the last two weeks of March.  I’ve been fortunate to have been accepted to every grad program that I’ve applied to so far (still haven’t heard from three…), which is awesome, but also a bit overwhelming.  So I’ve narrowed it down to six schools and will be doing a whirlwind tour to help make my final decision.  Here’s where you come in:  Check out the itinerary below.  If you live in (or near) one of the cities, I’d love to a) see you, b) talk to you or c) sleep on your couch.  Let me know if you can help!  I’d greatly appreciate it!

Mar 20 spending the night in Philly (fairly late arrival, as I’m flying into JFK and then taking the train down)
Mar 21 visiting UPenn
Mar 22 visiting UPenn
Mar 23 depart PHL 735am, arrive ORD 910am, visiting Northwestern
Mar 24 visiting  Northwestern, taking evening train to Ann Arbor
Mar 25 visiting U Michigan
Mar 26 depart DTW 600am, arrive RDU 1015am
Mar 27 FREE DAY IN NC!
Mar 28 depart RDU 530am, arrive SCE 1007am, visiting Penn State
Mar 29 visiting Penn State, evening bus to Baltimore (staying with Grandma!)
Mar 30 visiting George Washington
Mar 31 early bus or train to New York, visiting NYU
Apr 1 visiting NYU
Apr 2 evening flight back to Bishkek (eventually)

 

So, friends!  Can you give me a hand?  Shoot me an email or hit me up on the facebook or any way you see fit.  Can’t wait to see as many of you as possible!





I am, in fact, alive

11 02 2011

Hey everybody!

 

So, I’ve been swamped the last couple of weeks, fully delving into the research aspect of my Fulbright.  Thus far, I’ve collected and processed 1500 surveys from schools around Kyrgyzstan.  I’m taking off next week to head to Talas, a region in northwestern Kyrgyzstan, to continue collecting surveys.  It’s intensive work, but I’m really enjoying interacting with students all over the country.

 

I’ve run into a bit of bureaucracy while trying to start visiting schools in Bishkek.  The superintendent is requiring me to present a letter from Fulbright (on letterhead, no less) to conduct my research in the capital city.  I kind of understand where she’s coming from, but I haven’t had to do anything like this for anywhere else in the country, so I think it’s as much leftover Soviet bureaucracy as it is anything else.

 

Aside from the research, we hosted a Super Bowl Breakfast Bash at our apartment.  We had homemade bagels, eggs, nachos, mimosas….it was a blast!  It helped that I was ambivalent to who won.

 

In grad school news, I’m 8 for 8 for acceptances so far.  Here’s where things stand so far:

 

Accepted:

George Washington University

Northwestern University

Indiana University

University of Michigan

University of Pennsylvania

Penn State

Vanderbilt

University of Tennessee

 

Still Waiting:

Harvard

Michigan State

NYU

Columbia

UNC Greensboro

 

I’m planning on making a trip back to the States at the end of March to visit my top couple choices, so if you live in NYC, Philly, Chicago or DC, you may be hearing from me for a couch to crash.  I’ll keep you posted.

 

Love to you all!





Hitting the (Research) Ground Running

18 01 2011

Last week, after three months of language training, a whole bunch of prep work and dozens of unreturned phone calls and emails (and a handful of returned ones), I was finally ready to get started on my fieldwork — the reason that I came to Kyrgyzstan in the first place.

 

As many of you know, I was granted a Fulbright to research multilingual education here.  My original intent was to do a lot of advocacy work and teacher interviews, attempting to tout the benefits of developing proper multilingual education in Kyrgyz classrooms.  Once I arrived in Kyrgyzstan, I began to understand the dire conditions facing the Kyrgyz education system in general.  Government funding on education is half of what it was a decade ago.  Teachers are not being paid a living wage.  Students are being taught out of Soviet era textbooks and materials.  Many school buildings don’t have heat or indoor plumbing — even in sizable towns.

 

Confronting this reality led me to understand that what would really be useful is current statistics about language usage in the schools and at home.  I firmly believe that students should begin their education in the language that they speak at home with their families.  This allows children to get a firm educational foundation in a language they are comfortable with, and then once that foundation is built, other language can (and should!) be introduced.  What I’m finding is that this does is not the situation for many Kyrgyz students.  Russian classes are often considered “better”, and many parents believe that they offer more opportunities for their children.  This often leads to students being thrown in to exclusively Russian classes and subsequently struggling in what is not their native language.  The situation varies greatly depending on where in Kyrgyzstan you are, with the predominant home language being Russian in Bishkek and the surrounding area, Uzbek in many areas of the south, and Kyrgyz in most of the rest of the country.  Yet most students (at least in the north) are encouraged to enroll in Russian classes from the get-go.

 

I spent a lot of time in December developing a survey to measure students’ attitudes toward and actual use of these different languages.  After doing so, I set out last week to Naryn Province, the most ethnically Kyrgyz province in the country, to start my fieldwork.

 

My Russian has gotten to a point where I feel comfortable in many situations, but my Kyrgyz remains fairly non-existent.  I can count (thanks to the fact that the Kyrgyz numbers are virtually identical to Turkish) and engage in basic formalities, but that’s about as far as it extends.  So, I hired a translator to accompany me on my journey.  This proved to be an excellent decision, as Murat was both a resource with Kyrgyz speakers and a great travel companion.

 

I initially struggled to make contacts in the Kyrgyz school system, but fortuitously met up with some Peace Corps Volunteers in Bishkek the week before I set off to Naryn.  Many PCVs in Kyrgyzstan work as English teachers in elementary and secondary schools, and tapping into that network has proved to be invaluable.  My first stop in Naryn Province was Kochkor, where I met up with PCV Hannah, who welcomed me into her school and served as a conduit to meet the directors of the other schools in town.  In Naryn city, another PCV, Denis, kindly put us up in his apartment, in exchange for some Kurt-style home cooking.  Another contact provided me with the contact information for someone in the Ministry of Education for Naryn city, who was also supportive of my work and helped us meet with directors in Naryn.

I made soup!

Andreea enjoys Kurt's culinary offerings.

The work itself has proven to be a lot of fun.  The students are usually excited to have a break from their regular routine, and most of the schools welcomed us with open arms.  This resulted in us collecting over 500 surveys from nearly a dozen schools in the province.  I haven’t started crunching the data yet, but I’m really excited to see what comes from it — and to see how the data varies in different regions of the country.

Kids taking the survey

I was even able to instruct a number of classes on how to fill out the survey on my own — in Russian!  It was great to put my still-developing language skills to use and to be (mostly) understood along the way.

 

In addition to doing the research, it was great to get to see a bit more of Kyrgyzstan.  Naryn is a beautiful, mountainous part of the country, and, while super cold (temperatures rarely got above zero F in Naryn city), the landscape was breathtaking.  The cold kept us from exploring what little night life there is in Naryn, opting rather to hunker down inside over home-cooked soup and games of all sorts.

Murat faces off against me at Narde

I’m back in Bishkek this week, planning the next leg of my research, which will take place next week along the south shore of Lake Issyk-Kul.    I can’t begin to explain how excited I am to interact with more and more people all over the country over the next few months.  And hopefully the results will be useful to other researchers, academics, and educational organizations for a long time coming.

Everything is frozen! (including the Naryn River bank)

Murat takes in the scenery

A gorgeous mosque in Naryn city.

An impromptu ice hockey match

Many more photos can be found on my facebook.