15 fantastic, bright, intelligent professionals participate twice a week on zoom evenings. They are busy people; sometimes, when the mics are on, I could hear how children ask them to help with the homework. Sometimes, they drive back home after a long day.. After all, we have only 24 hours a day and commit after working hours intended to the family to learn new skills is very demanding and time-consuming.
Apart of the fact that it is very honorable to present what I know to high achievers like Ph.D. candidates and I love to be around them, It is also very challenging. You just need to fill them with the knowledge and make them curious to teach young people. To teach someone who is already full of knowledge about life, who built a career locally, requires a change of mindset. Not only theirs but mine too.
After all, although we do speak the same language, we come from different backgrounds – mine being 25 years away of Kazakhstan that went through the years of independence, changing countries, lifestyles and works, in a way, living unconventionally and following off the beaten path. Them –living and maturing in Kazakhstan, building up life here, respecting the roots traditions and following the advice of older.
So I decided if I want to talk about digital nomads, expatriate lifestyle and having an opportunity to choose lifestyle not only according to the country rules but with everything what is available today: modern technology, remote working, then me talking is not enough. We – me and them – need to discuss, exchange our completely different opinions and somewhere we will find what works for them. And for me.
And that went fine. In the beginning, I had heard from other foreign teachers that it is really hard to get any feedback from these students – Kazakh people are reserved and not very willing to talk about themselves. It is not a closed mindset – historically, life in steppes was dangerous, everywhere different tribes were fighting with each other. To be open – meant to show vulnerability – but no according to the rules of steps.
Initially, I have asked to turn on mics, then I asked to switch on a video. After the first 2 lectures first person started to use a video, then two and then three. Now we have a constant interaction of opinions. This feels right. With the structure of the program, on each of the workshops, I give what I know: how to build an international network, how to present yourself on the international conference so people could remember you and reach you out, how to build your professional social profile so you can attract a right employers and so on and so on.
We also talk about the mission in our life. Not a career or job or higher task – why we come to this earth? In each class, we have a moment of self-reflection where professors write their moments of truth. What is my goal? What do I want?
And while taking those moments to reflect, I understand that this is one of my missions in life, too – make people from Kazakhstan global – enable them to believe that the whole world is theirs. The best part of it.