Horse Trekking in Kyrgyzstan – Student Observations

While Bishkek is a modern, dynamic and constantly evolving city, it still provides an opportunity to tap into the ancient nomadic traditions of the Kyrgyz people. One of those traditions, horseback traveling, is becoming increasingly popular with SRAS students – and surely for a good reason. Practicing Russian and Kyrgyz while learning about local culture […]

Manti, Pozi, Bauzi: More Than Just Another Dumpling

Манты (manti) are steamed dumplings consisting of ground meat and spices in an unleavened pastry shell. Манты are a popular dish across Central Asia, Pakistan, Northern China, Turkey, and Russia. They are considered native to Central Asia, but are also thought to have descended from a still-older Chinese dish. Почему они носят такое название? It […]

Kyrgyz on Kyrgyzstan

What defines being Kyrgyz? Defining something as broad as a nationality or ethnicity is always complicated. I decided to get a view specifically from young Kyrgyz women and interviewed Bigemai, 27 and Aiza, 22 for their thoughts. Bigemai grew up in Bishkek, the oldest of four siblings. She works professionally as a hairdresser and volunteers […]

New Year’s Eve: Student Observations

The New Year is, without doubt, the most important holiday on the Russian calendar. It equates if not outstrips the importance of Christmas in America, if to compare the two holidays in the two cultures. New Year in Russia is a time to be together with family and friends, for gift giving, major consumer spending, […]

Holidays in Kyrgyzstan: A Guide

This resource provides a list of those holidays of cultural importance in Kyrgyzstan. Dates, days off, and histories of the holidays are all included. Long Weekends and Extra Days Off by Semester for 2020 Spring Summer Fall Winter March 1 & 21 May 1, 5, 9, 24 July 31 August 31 November 7-8 January 1, […]

Oromo: Kyrgyz Food with Vegetarian Options

For those obsessed with all things pumpkin — pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice-cream, pumpkin-spice lattes — оромо is sure to please. Oромо is a rolled, layered, steamed pastry that comes with various fillings (pumpkin being common and our favorite). It evokes everything we love about pumpkin season back home in the States. This main dish is […]

Lagman: Central Asian Noodles & Broth

Лагман (lagman) is a dish that is very common in Central Asia, China, and much of Russia. While the basic recipe has perhaps hundreds of local variations, this simple and filling dish always consists of noodles floating in broth or soaked in a savory sauce with vegetables and often features meat, spices, and various savory […]

Victory Day: Student Observations

Victory Day is celebrated every May 9th in many countries across the former Soviet space. This public holiday gives often multiple days off and celebrates the end of The Great Patriotic War (which is WWII as experienced in the USSR). Estimates vary, but about 37 million Soviet people died in the war from causes ranging […]

Banyas in Bishkek – Cultural Experience

Banya (a washing house) has remained a part of the Russian culture since ancient times, carrying all sorts of traditionally obtained meanings including religious, symbolic and medicinal. The banya was officially endorsed by the Soviets as a health facility and its use spread throughout Eurasia. It remains popular for health and recreation throughout the post-Soviet […]

Kyrgyz on Kyrgyz Female Role Models

Editor’s note: Women’s rights suffered greatly in Kyrgyzstan after the fall of the USSR. Violent traditions such as “bride kidnapping,” where women are kidnapped and forced into marriages became common and even praised by some locals who (mistakenly) believed it to be an ancient national tradition. The spread of Islam, which is traditional in Kyrgyzstan, […]

The Talking Kyrgyz Phrasebook

Below, you will find several useful phrases and words. To the left is the English and to the above right is an English transliteration of the Kyrgyz translation. Below the English transliteration is a Russian transliteration. Kyrgyz uses a modified Cyrillic alphabet nearly identical to the Russian. In the center of each row is a […]

Manas: The Kyrgyz Odysseys, Moses, and Washington

The main thing to know about Manas is that it is epic. Created, most historians believe, more than a millennia ago, it is one of the world’s longest poems at more than half a million lines. It has been written down more than sixty times from various bards, creating a different version each time. It […]

Home Sweet Yurt

Yurts are felt-covered, portable housing that have long been used throughout Central Asia. Although the region is urbanizing, the Kyrgyz still know and follow the traditional customs that surround the traditional yurt. Hospitality is revered in the traditionally poor country of Kyrgyzstan. As soon as they see a new arrival, neighbors will come to meet […]

Ruh-Ordo Complex: Multiconfessional Site in Kyrgyzstan

If you visit Lake Issyk-Kul during the summer, check out the Ruh-Ordo Complex at Cholpon-Ata. This complex is an open air museum with beaches that boats an array of sculptures and cultural pieces, along with buildings devoted to Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Catholicism, and Russian Orthodox Christianity. There are also a few other buildings with art […]

National Kyrgyz Horse Games

This year elections for the Issyk-Kul region were coming. This does not affect life much as a temporary student in Kyrgyzstan except that it means that the Бир Бол political party set up the National Kyrgyz Horse Games (Национальные конно-спортивные игры) with free entrance for anyone! This was only a half hour walk outside of […]

Jewish Bishkek: A Brief History and Guide

My experience with the Jewish community in Bishkek began on a weekday evening in September. I did not really expect to find a synagogue on Suyumbayev Street. I had been following the gradually narrowing road for blocks, eventually across the wide Jibek-Jolu Avenue. On the other side of this thoroughfare, Suyumbayev was sidewalk-less, and full […]

Central Asian Culinary Discoveries

As an American having lived in Moscow for the past 12 years, I’m fairly well acquainted with Central Asian culture. Much of Central Asia was incorporated into the Russian Empire and was part of the USSR. Today, the majority of immigrants to Moscow come from Central Asia. Thus, finding examples of Central Asian cuisine, dress, […]

Nooruz in Bishkek: Student Observations

As soon as I knew I’d be spending time in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, I asked Google about the national holidays that would happen during my stay. Google gave me a neat little list of holidays that were mostly familiar — except for one: March 21, Nooruz. Nooruz (also Nowruz, Novruz, or Naw Rúz), which means “New […]

An Oral Account of Yurt Making in Kyzyl-Too, Kyrgyzstan

Four and a half hours southeast of Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, the village of Kyzyl-Too lies nestled in a valley about four miles from the shore of Issyk-Kul, the world’s second largest saltwater lake. With a population of only around 1500, Kyzyl-Too is known regionally – and increasingly globally – as a bastion of Kyrgyz cultural […]

What Bishkek Eats for Ramadan

Well, Bishkek, it’s the beginning of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. This year, the holy month starts July 9th, coinciding with watermelon season in Kyrgyzstan. Ramadan also coincides with the dog days of summer, when the days are at their longest, temperatures are at their highest, and beach season at […]

Fortune Telling in Bishkek

Recently, a colleague and I went to a yasnovidyashi, a Kyrgyz fortuneteller (the name actually translates to “Clear Seer”), for the first time. Why? We’ve never done it before, we were looking for a new experience, and we were curious to know more about these infamous women of Bishkek with the “dangerous” reputation of hypnotizing […]

Up Close and Personal with a Manaschi

A Performance and Interview with Nazarkyl Seydrakmanov This past week, SRAS students met with one of Kyrgyzstan’s most famous manaschis, Nazarkyl Seydrakmanov. Manaschis are Kyrgyz professional storytellers of the Manas epic poem, the longest epic poem in world history. During this meeting, Nazarkyl discussed his personal life story, the artistry of his craft, and gave […]

Mad for Manas in Talas

There are few essential things to know about Kyrgyzstan. One of these is the country’s folkloric hero, Manas. You might recognize the name from the Manas Transit Center, the supply center for US troops fighting in Afghanistan. That transit center is named for him, as are quite a lot of things in Kyrgyzstan. Manas is […]

Kyrgyzstan, A Love Story II: Immigrating to America

Read part one here. Living on opposite sides of the world, it would seem unlikely that I, a small-town American girl, would even meet my future husband, Rakhat, who is from a small village in Kyrgyzstan. However, as it happened, Peace Corps volunteers lived with his family while he was growing up, inspiring him to […]

Kyrgyzstan, A Love Story

During the spring semester of 2008, I decided to study abroad in the rustically beautiful country of Kyrgyzstan. Many would be surprised at my exotic choice of destination (which is actually increasingly popular among SRAS students). However, what really set my study abroad experience apart from the ordinary was me. For I was not only […]

Sheep Guts Won’t Kill You: A Guide to Seeing the Kyrgyzstan that Most People Don’t (Part II)

This is the second of a two-part series. Read part one here Naryn: Work the System Some people I talked to suggested that Naryn was the most Kyrgyz of all the provinces. Most of the country’s Uzbek population lives south of this province, and the Russians tended to keep to the northern areas. In fact, […]

Sheep Guts Won’t Kill You: A Guide to Seeing the Kyrgyzstan that Most People Don’t

I’m an anthropologist. Actually, I’m still a year of fieldwork and a dissertation away from getting my Ph.D., so that makes me an anthropologist-in-training. In September 2007, I will move to Central Asia to study the ways people think about things like their ethnic group and their religion, and how that affects their participation in […]

Culture Shock: A Kyrgyz in the States

One of the greatest advantages of studying abroad is the experience of culture shock.  It teaches us that even our most basic assumptions of “how things are” do not always hold true and that cultures can exist, and even prosper, while holding assumptions that shock and bewilder our own. It is often only through this […]

1 2 3