For some time now, my dad has had some major health challenges. Because of that, Magevney and I decided that we wanted to go back to the US to see him. So the other day we told our Russian teacher at the University that we would be leaving for the US to see him. We told her that we would be gone about a month and that when we returned we would only be in Karakol for about a month before we have to leave for Istanbul to have our second child.
We really were not sure how she would react to this news. She has known of my dad’s health problems for a while and asks us about him regularly. We also know that this is disruptive to our language learning and she has put a considerable amount of time and effort into teaching us her language. She was chosen by the department chair at the University to teach us Russian. All this made us a little apprehensive when telling her.
Our apprehension was for naught. Her immediate reaction was along the lines of “Of course you must go. You only have one set of parents and you father is ill and they need you. You need to go see them and help them.”
Family is very important in Kyrgyz culture. You stick by family no matter what. Yes there are serious hierarchies within family relationships here but you always choose family, support family, and defer to family. There is no hesitation that when family needs something, you do it, period. Her strong reaction to our news, just days before our departure, reinforced the value of family we felt we had observed in Kyrgyzstan. I think her only question is why we would have waited so long to go back but she never expressed that idea to us.
Magevney and I will continue to post from the US and probably talk about some of the differences we see as this will be our first time back stateside in about thirteen months.