Jump to Content or Main Navigation

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Overseas Phone Call from Turkmenistan

Third grade students in Wisconsin speak with Peace Corps Volunteer Mike Cavey in Turkmenistan

Once a year, a few U.S. classrooms get to talk with a Peace Corps Volunteer by telephone because they've been communicating throughout the year with a volunteer in the field. Today, third grade students from G.D. Jones School in Wisconsin speak with Mike Cavey in Turkmenistan about food, language, and school.

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 volunteers who have served since 1961. For more information on the Peace Corps, go to peacecorps.gov.
Student
What kinds of food do they eat?
Mike
People in Turkmenistan eat lots of rice, and bread, and bread products. There's bread everywhere, even in the soup.
Student
What's your favorite?
Mike
My favorite food?
Student
Yeah.
Mike
Where I live, my favorite food is called Korean monty. The Korean monty is like a little bread roll, and inside the bread roll, they put different types of salad made from vegetables like carrots, and beets, and cabbage, and also beans, and then they put some mayonnaise on top of that. Korean Monty is my favorite food where I live, and in Ashgabat, in the capital, where there are many restaurants, I like to eat Turkish food—food from Turkey. Tonight, I ordered some food from a Turkish restaurant, and I ate, like, a pizza. It's called a pito; it's like a pizza with just cheese on it. That, and a baity kabob. That is little pieces of meat with a thin layer of bread around it and some rice. The Turkish food is very delicious.
Student
What's the most unusual food you've tasted?
Mike
The most unusual food I tasted was the brain of a goat. Have you ever had the brain of a goat? It is not very delicious. And it doesn't make you smarter.
Student
Hi. I'm Parker. What language is spoken in Turkmenistan?
Mike
Hi, Parker. Turkmen language, Russian, and Uzbek are spoken in Turkmenistan.
Student
Will you say something in that language and tell us what you said?
Mike
Which language should I say something in, Turkmen or Russian?
Student
Turkmen.
Mike
Turkmen? Turkmen? Okay, my Turkmen is not very good. [Speaks in Turkmen] I said, "My name is Michael, and I am a teacher."
Student
Oh, that's cool. Can you count to ten in Turkmenistan?
Mike
I can count to ten in Turkmenistan, and I will do that for you in Turkmen. [Counts to ten in Turkmen]
Teacher
Cool. Can you count to ten in Russian?
Mike
Maybe. [Counts to ten in Russian]
Student
Hi. I'm Mackenzie. What does your school look like? How long is a school day and a school year?
Mike
Well, the school year is about the same as in America. The school year begins in September, and it ends at the end of May. My school looks like a giant capital "E." There is a very long hallway with three hallways coming off of that long hallway. And the school day at my school is divided into two parts. During the first part, in the morning, from 8:30 in the morning until one o'clock in the afternoon, first graders, second graders, third graders, ninth graders, and tenth graders go to school. And then in the afternoon from 1:30 until six o'clock, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders go to school.
Student
That's cool. Hi, I'm Clarissa. What do the students learn in school? Do they learn multiplication?
Mike
The students learn multiplication at school, and division, and addition, and subtraction. They also learn science, history; they study the Turkmen language, Russian language, English language, and they also have computer classes at my school. Do you have computer classes at your school? [Students scream "yes" in unison.]
Student
Hi. I'm Stephanie. What do people do in their free time or to have fun?
Mike
Hello, Stephanie. Kids do many, many things in their free time to have fun. They like to play soccer. Soccer is very popular. They play basketball, volleyball. Card games are very popular. They also play checkers, chess, and backgammon. Right now, because there's snow on the ground where I live, the kids like to throw snowballs at each other and even build snowmen. Do you like to throw snowballs at your friends? [Students scream "yes" in unison.]
Student
What do you do to have fun?
Mike
I like to spend time with my friends. I like to read books. When the weather is nice, I will run outside and play soccer. And I also watch DVDs and study Russian.
Student
Hi. I'm Andrew. Do you have any Turkmen friends?
Mike
Hello, Andrew. Yes, I do have Turkmen friends. We like to go on short trips with each other to see the historical places in Turkmenistan, to sit near a canal and have a picnic, to do many fun things outside.
Student
That's awesome. Hi. I'm Kara. What kind of books do third graders love to read?
Mike
That's another good question. The third graders that I know do not read many books. There are not many books in Turkmenistan where I live—only their schoolbooks, and those are not very fun to read. But, the students do know about Harry Potter, and they like his books—books about Harry Potter.
Student
What do kids use to study?
Mike
They have schoolbooks. They use pens and notebooks to write. And that's about it.
Student
That's awesome. Hi. I'm Julia. How are the teachers?
Mike
Hello, Julia. The teachers are different from American teachers. They are very strict, and classes are very formal. When a teacher walks into the room, all of the students stand up at their desks, and they all say "hello" to the teacher, and they wait to sit down until the teacher tells them they can sit down. Do you do that with Ms. Cavey in your class?
Student
Hi. I'm Sarah. What have you learned?
Mike
I have learned many things. The first thing I have learned is patience. I have also learned how to communicate with people if we don't have the same language. And even if we do speak the same language, I think I communicate better. I have also learned how to make friends with people from a different culture, how to live in a different culture. And I have also learned confidence. I think I have learned many things.
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

Mike Cavey

Third grade students from G.D. Jones School in Wisconsin speak with Peace Corps Volunteer Mike Cavey in Turkmenistan about food, language, and school.