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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Overseas Phone Call from Kyrgyz Republic

Peace Corps Volunteer Colleen Marshall speaks with high school students in Illinois

Once a year, a few Peace Corps Volunteers get to talk by telephone with U.S. classrooms they've been communicating with. We've recorded some of those conversations. Today, Hinsdale Central High School in Hinsdale, Illinois speaks with Colleen, a Peace Corps Volunteer currently serving in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Ron Tschetter
Hi. I'm Ron Tschetter, director of the Peace Corps. For more than 45 years, the Peace Corps has helped communities around the world. Volunteer Voices is a collection of audio stories from just a few of the more than 182,000 volunteers who have served since 1961. For more information on the Peace Corps, go to peacecorps.gov.
Colleen
My name is Colleen Marshall, and I'm originally from Lake Forest, Illinois. I graduated from Lake Forest High School, went to Ohio University, where I graduated in journalism and Spanish in 2005, and I decided to join the Peace Corps right after that, so I've basically been here in Kyrgyzstan, which is actually known as the Kyrgyz Republic, for a year and a half. I'm an English teacher here.
Student
Do you miss the United States at all now that you're in Kyrgyzstan all the time?
Colleen
Yes. For the first year—do you guys know Facebook?
Students
Yeah.
Colleen
[Laughs] I couldn't go on that for, like, the first year because it made me too sad because I missed my friends. You know, with cell phones and with technology and all that stuff, I've been able to speak with my family every single Sunday. Of course I miss things. I miss cars, and I miss being able to get things done without any problems with people being able to understand me and everything, but now that I have eight months to go, everything's on the downhill now. I'm, like, kind of positive now.
Student
Have you ever been bride kidnapped?
Colleen
[Laughs] I have been asked many, many times. A lot of old Russian women—not really Russian, the Kyrgyz women, they come up to me in the taxis and the marshukas, and they see a little American girl who's all positive and cheery and always has a smile on her face, and I speak their local language, and they are just blown away, and they just think that I would just make the best wife for their sons. It's happened ever since day one, so I'm very used to that—the proposal—but as far as actually being bride kidnapped—it has not happened to me because they know better. I would be the worst wife for them. It's kind of a cultural thing. They don't want an American girl; they want someone who's like them culturally. I mean, in America it's the same way. There's certain families that want their children to marry a certain kind of person. It's just the way it is. I'm able to brush it off with a joke, saying, "Oh, yeah. I'm sure your son is very attractive, but someone else will be a better spouse for them."
Student
I was just wondering if you could say something for us in the Kyrgyz language.
Colleen
Of course. What would you like me to say?
Student
Say, "Hello, how are you?"
Colleen
If you're walking down the little street, you say, " Selematz bkondisez." Bkondizes is "how are you?" And that's the formal, but if you're walking down the street and you see your friend, you kind of say " Jasekgar " or " Kondai," which is like, "You good?", "How you doing?" Kind of like that. I'll just say this: [Speaking in Kyrgyz] Which I said was, "My name is Colleen. I'm from America. I'm from Chicago. I'm 23. I am in Bishkek right now."
Teacher
Great. Thank you.
Student
Is there anything that you like better in Kyrgyzstan than there is that you like in America?
Colleen
I guess what I like maybe better than America is, you know, everyone is so relaxed here. Everyone is so calm, and there's no rush for anything. And especially being from Chicago, I'm a very type-A, kind of driven, driven individual, and people are always telling me, "Colleen, slow down." Because when I'm walking on the street, they're like, "Wow! That girl walks really fast," and I just kind of turn around to them, and I'm like, "I'm just walking home. I'm just walking." The Kyrgyz have a way of life where they're just—they're doing what they're doing, and they're surviving, and they're getting by, and they're happy with what they have, and I guess seeing that and the close-knit community, the idea of what it's like to be together. So I guess that's what I'm going to miss.
Teacher
Thank you. Well, we really enjoyed your conversation.
Colleen
All right. Bye, guys. Thank you!
Class
Bye!
Close
Thanks for listening. Are you in a classroom? Do you want stories written just for your class? Enroll in the Correspondence Match Program through Coverdell World Wise Schools. We can connect your class with a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in any region of the world. For enrollment and program information, visit us online at www.peacecorps.gov/wws/correspond.

About the Author

Colleen Marshall

Students from Hinsdale Central High School in Illinois speaks with Colleen Marshall, a Peace Corps Volunteer currently serving in the Kyrgyz Republic.