Author: adifromkz

Return to Homeland

Next Sunday I will graduate from Hofstra University with a bachelor degree in Sustainability studies. Right after that I will be going home to Kazakhstan for the summer. I will spend the summer with my family in the beautiful city of Almaty. There I will post more frequently, about the situation in Kazakhstan and the life of the city. There is also a chance, that I will visit the World Expo 2017, in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The theme of the Expo will be renewable Energy, and green technologies.  It would be a global showcase of latest developments in the Wind Power Generation, Solar Power Generation, Energy storage, and Energy efficiency. For Kazakhstan it would be the main event of the year, as the country hopes to attract the attention of Global media, and present itself as a progressive nature friendly country.

The theme  of the Expo is directly related to what I have been studying at Hofstra for the last 4 years. It will only be fitting to go see the newest achievements in Wind, and Solar generation technology, after learning about Wind and Solar energy in class.

I will also be teaching, right after I get my University Degree. I will work in the summer camp for part of the summer, teaching English to school children. The camp is in the mountains near  Almaty. Besides teaching English I will go hiking, and may be even have an overnight trip to the wild.

The Summer camp decided to turn into an English teaching institution due to the fact , that Kazakhstan is transferring to the trilingual education.

Let’s go back to America where I am finishing my last semester as an Undergraduate student. Here is a slide show of images related to my Graduation. Those are pictures I made in the last two days.

I am going to leave Hofstra forever, since I will not be coming here for the Masters program. Instead I will go Clark University,  where I will study Environmental Science and Policy.  That is a kind of degree no college offers in Kazakhstan. It will be very hard to explain my relatives what my Master’s program is all about.  I will tell them that it has to do with study of the natural environment and human interactions with it, as well as the laws regarding nature protection.

Honestly, my major at Hofstra was even harder to explain. Sustainability, no one in Kazakhstan has really heard of such concept, at least no one even took courses in that. In Kazakhstan universities majors are tailored to specific occupations, such as “Geologist” or “Electrical Engineer”, there is no room for vague majors such as “Sustainability Studies” or “Environmental Science”.My first major was Environmental Resources, the idea behind it, was to learn what resources are available and how to effectively Manage them. The major I graduated with is “Sustainability Studies”. It does sound vague and esoteric. However,  I did manage to explain my parents that Sustainability Studies is about learning how to live without destroying the planet, and making sure that we do not run out of resources.

Well the field of Sustainability is brand new, this wave did not reach Kazakhstan yet. It has only been around since 1970-ies, and did not become a big deal the 21st century. Actually many people in the United States are still unaware about the concept  of sustainability. The topic of this  major is hard to explain not only to old people, but also to some students on Hofstra campus. Hofstra Sustainability studies program was only established in 2013, the same year I came to Hofstra. To this day not a lot of students are aware of the sustainability program, and there are less than 50 Sustainability majors on the campus with 11 thousand students. That is counting both Undergraduate and Graduate Students. The Masters Program in Sustainability studies was established only two years ago, and this year  Hofstra has one student graduating with this degree.Well, that’s one more person than the whole nation of Kazakhstan.

In the future it will off course change. The notion of Sustainable development, will cease to be a novel idea, and will become understood throughout society both in Kazakhstan and the United States, and also in other countries around the World.People will become more conscious about the Environmental impact of their decisions, and change their lifestyles.  The courses in Sustainability and Environmental Science will be taught in colleges throughout the world. Not only in Liberal leaning western institutions. I hope that these concept will enter the high school curriculum as well, even those who do not pursue majors in Sustainability should be aware of the current Environmental Issues.

Personally I am going to miss Hofstra a lot. The instructors here have been very helpful and understanding, and I have found friends among the students. It is the place which I want to visit again in the future.The campus is a beautiful site, where one can find great diversity of plants and some modern art sculptures. Here is a footage of the Sculptures outside of the University Student Center.



The Campus is Blooming.

Here at Hofstra University the weather hot and sunny. The birds are singing and the flowers are blooming. Most of the trees have their leaves on, and the others will have them before the middle of May.

Hofstra is teeming with life, we have several species of singing birds living here. We also have squirrels, crows,  and cats living on campus grounds, peacefully coexisting with eleven thousand students.  Some students live on campus while others commute. I live on campus and today I shot a video of how the plants look in front of my residence hall.

The Campus flora includes more than 30 species of trees, as well as numerous varieties  of tulips. These flowers remind me of Almaty,  where city government plants them in parks and along the streets.  This makes my hometown quite a sight during the summer. But, the similarity ends here, since Almaty is in the middle of Eurasia right next to a mountain range, while Hofstra is on the Atlantic Coast of  North America.

The warm weather and the beauty of plants create an atmosphere of delight, making students  less stressed about the coming finals. Students have taken off their winter clothes, and are free to walk around in T-shirts and shorts.  No one is complaining about feeling cold anymore, and no one here will until October.  The warm days are here and it will be warm until the end of the semester.

The campus is always most beautiful right at the end of the spring semester.  This is unfair, for most of  the school year  it is cold with rain and snow. But, one can regard that as a reward for surviving the winds that bring the cold inside  your bones. The memories of that experience make you appreciate the heat of the summer. The grim landscape of February, makes you cherish the blossom of May.  And workload of the school year, makes you appreciate the freedom of the Summer.

The end of the school year is fast approaching. At this time students worry about the finals, and look forward towards the summer. They work on their final papers and projects, and catch up with the work they missed. Everyone envisions leaving the campus and spending the summer with their families.  Most people already have plans for the coming vacation. I  will go home to Kazakhstan,  and be done with Hofstra,  four weeks from now.


The Plants have started to awaken.

Here are some photos of plants, I took at Hofstra University, where I have been studying for the last 4 years.  The school is located, in Nassau County, New York State, United States of America. Photos were taken on April 1st 2017.

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There are real reasons for good mood and optimism.Here at Hofstra University, the plants have started to awaken. The snow has melted away,  and the air has been warmer than 5 degrees Celsius, for the last entire week.  The winter has finally gone away, and you can expect no snow  until November.  Soon the air will become warmer and the campus will be covered with blooming flowers. The campus is going to be beautiful,  and the students will want to be outside. People will be playing Ultimate Frisbee,  and  soccer matches will be held.

Some plants have awakened to resume their growth, and start flowering. Yes, the flowers are still rare, and most trees still have no twigs. Still,we see that the grass has started to grow again, and some bushes are covered with flowers.  This was not the case when I came back from Spring break, those changes occurred, in the last week of March,The cherry tree near the entrance to the student center has pink flowers as well.

That cherry tree also has bare twigs, I see no leaves on that tree. This looks weird. Especially if you know that the tree feeds itself using  green leaves. The bark can not photosynthesize, and yet there are flowers present, in the absence of leaves. However this situation won’t be for long, the leaves will be there,  that tree like all the trees in the slide show, will look totally different two weeks from now. That added green will make the entire campus look better and more alive.

In fact every landscape looks better with more leaves and flowers. Which is why all those trees and flowers were planted on Hofstra’s campus in the first place. Their presence makes the campus beautiful. When the flowers are in bloom they have the power to improve the mood of whomever looks at them. Their effect won’t enough to cure stress over the finals, but they do make student life feel less miserable.

Another reason so many trees should be on our campus, is because the presence of trees makes the air cleaner, and this makes people healthier.   The absence of trees allows more pollutants to accumulate in the atmosphere. From there they enter human lungs, where they cause health problems , especcially asthma.

So plants are important part of our environment , and of the Hofstra campus.