Hello, students at the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics and Strategic Research! Your teacher (whose name I do not know, but on my blog she uses the intriguing screen name of “Kazakhnomad”) asked me to write to you.
My name is John Shore. I make a living writing books. Writing is a great way to make a living, because it means you get to sit on your rear end all day. I live in the city of San Diego. If you are driving south in the American state of California, San Diego is the last city you hit before driving into the country of Mexico. The immigration point between San Diego and Mexico is the world’s busiest land border crossing. That means lots of Mexicans live in San Diego, which is wonderful. It is wrong to stereotype people, but I think Mexicans must be the kindest people in the world.
I am writing to you because your teacher said that some of you are hesitant about writing about yourself and/or your life. I would like to encourage you to overcome that hesitancy. It would be impossible for me to communicate to you how happy and eager Americans would be to learn whatever they could about you and your life. I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not (though I’m guessing you just might be), but as a general rule Americans are not very knowledgeable about people and cultures in other parts of the world. It is not because we are not interested in people and cultures in other parts of the world. We totally are. It’s just that we tend to be extremely busy, mostly because we work a lot. (Say what you will about Americans, but we work like crazy.) Plus, we go to the movies quite a bit. We also play a lot of video games. And eat — Americans are huge on eating (which is why we ourselves tend to be huge — but that’s another story.) So all that takes a lot of time.
Please write about your lives, so that we can learn about you and whatever you want to write about. I personally am intensely interested in virtually anything you would have to say, because (as far as I know), I’ve never known anyone who even knew anyone who knew anyone from Kazakhstan. I am now officially fascinated by Kazakhstan. I want to know what you ate for dinner last night, and how typical a meal it was. (See? We’re always thinking about food!) I want to know what kind of house you live in. I want to know what your father and/or mother does for a living. I want to know what you do or want to do for a living. I’m very eager to learn what it is you’re learning about at the Kazakhstan Insitute of Management, Economics and Strategic Research. Do you have to pay money to study at the KIMESR? Is it free? Does the government pay for you to go there? Did you have to qualify in any way to attend the KIMESR? How far away from the school do you live? How do you get to the school? Car? Bike? Bus? Walk? Scooter?
And please, please, please do not be shy about the quality of your written English. You should know, in fact, that most everyone here in America has trouble writing correctly, and I’m not kidding. English is infinitely confusing. We know that. And we all know we know that, too. So when we write, we just try to do our best, and hope that whomever reads what we wrote will at least understand the general idea of whatever we were trying to say.
Besides, it’s not like we know how to write in your language. As I say, most of us can barely handle English. If you even try to write in English, we will be so deeply impressed by you that … well, that we just might try our hand at writing something in your language.
What is your language, by the way? What do you speak, and read, and think, and dream in?
You see? We (or at least I) am totally ignorant about Kazakhstan. This is an abysmal, embarrassing fact that you can help correct. Do! Please help me, and other interested people in the world, learn what we can about you. Share with us your thoughts, your ideas, your convictions, your beliefs, understandings, perspectives, processes, habits, aspirations. Tell us what you do for fun on the weekends. Tell us about what religion you practice — or why you practice no religion, if you don’t. Tell us about the last date you went on. Tell us if you have a pet. Tell us anything.
Just start writing. Do not worry about your English grammar, or any of that nonsense. Just do your best. We’ll fill in the blanks or awkward spots. We’ll know what you mean. And if not, we’ll ask you what you meant.
They say it’s a small world. I, for one, would be grateful if you’d help make it smaller.
Your American friend,