Last week I had an interesting conversation with a babbling student. I finished teaching my class on a Friday afternoon and I walked in on a conversation with Danielle and a student. Danielle does not speak Russian and is still learning Kyrgyz. But that did not stop this particular student from talking her ear off. I sat down and asked if she needed some help with translation. “YES”, she said. I listened to this student talk with hardly a moment to stop. He was going back and forth between the Russian and Kyrgyz language, talking about nothing specific. I think he thought that I understood everything he said in both languages, which I didn’t. I told him to stick to Russian if he wanted me to translate. That’s when the conversation really took off.
He started off talking about how much he loves to dance. He gave his phone to Danielle and played a song. He got up and started dancing in a very crude “pop-n-lock” style. After a minute of this, he sat down and told us about this famous Kyrgyz dancer, Atai Omurzakov, who is from Karakol. (watch Atai dance here) He told us that he is an inspiration to him and how he wants to be famous like him. He then started talking about how much he loves rap, rock, pop, and dance music from all over the world. He wants to learn how to play the guitar and become a better singer. This got him on a bunny trail.
He talked about how Kyrgyzstan didn’t use to have access to the internet. He explained how everything was simple and people only farmed, worked, or went to school. He explained how technology grew in the country and young people had access to many forms of media. He remembered how life was “simple” before modern technology. He talked with excitement in his voice about how much he learned about the modern world through the internet. He talked about how he witnessed technology bloom right before his eyes. From a simple village boy to a “modern man”, I heard his testimony of how much popular media has shaped his life. It was interesting to hear his perspective on what happened in this country once people had access to modern technology. Maybe it’s a story that many young people in this village can relate to: a young person who knew hardly anything about the rest of the world to knowing bucket loads of internet information and media.