-Phoebe, your Russian is very good. Where did you learn it?
— I studied Russian first at Colby College in Maine. I studied computer science then, but I liked the language and decided to learn it better. I went to Russia and lived in Irkutsk for six months. Then I got a desire to learn another culture, to get acquainted with the life of other cities and peoples. I joined the Peace Corps volunteers and came to Kyrgyzstan. I knew that I would not have any difficulties with the language in your country, since this is one of the Russian-speaking countries.
— What problems did you face at school?
— I give lessons in higher grades. The students, of course, are different. But many of them do not do their homework. This was the main problem for me. I did not know how to motivate them. Now my attempts to teach them to do homework have already yielded some results, but they are not very high so far.
Teaching materials also leave much to be desired. For example, the textbooks for the 9th and 10th grades are very old, and their methodology is not interesting. I think that’s why students lose interest in English. Their level of knowledge is also very low. Many of them find English very difficult.Phoebe Hughes
The school in which I teach is rural, the conditions there are not very good. But there are children, who, despite everything, come to the lessons with a great interest.
In addition to lessons, I also conduct a four-hour English club for students and a speaking club for English teachers at my school.
My colleague and I also initiated the creation of Strong Women women’s club in our village. We hope that there will be interested people.
— What struck you the most in Kyrgyzstan?
— The rich culture of the country is surprising. It’s great that you have managed to preserve traditions. As I have noticed, the local population proudly tells about their customs and they still wear national clothes.
— What in Bishkek reminds you of your hometown?
— I would say that Bishkek looks like Chicago. People are always busy here. Shopping malls, universities are always crowded, like in Chicago.
Bishkek is diverse. It has both a European and a local originality. I do not know the city well, but from the very beginning, my favorite place is Sierra cafe. This is a cozy place where you can just meet with friends and work. I also like to walk along Ala-Too square. The square was very beautifully decorated this winter.
— Did you try the local cuisine?
By the way, I really like your bazaars. There are many different goods, sellers are very sociable, everything is lively, and you can feel the spirit of Asia there. When I will return to the USA, I think I will miss the bazaars.
— Yes, I like boorsok and lagman very much. In the near future, I will try to learn how to cook these dishes. But I’m afraid to even try some dishes with unfamiliar ingredients. Especially since I eat a little meat.
— What has fascinated and disappointed you in close acquaintance with the local population?
— I have no disappointments. People are very friendly. When visiting friends, at home, I am served with a lot of food and asked to eat more.