By Anthony R. Kingsley
After returning from Armenia in 1997, I obtained a position as the accounting manager at a construction company. It was a good job but not very interesting.
I thought my volunteer experience in Armenia, combined with a regular job, would be good -- so I applied for a staff position with Peace Corps. They offered me the position of Associate Director in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. I declined. They then offered me the same position in Kazakhstan and I accepted.
When I arrived, a driver met me and drove me to a temporary residence. He picked me up the next morning and took me to the office to meet the country director and my staff.
I needed a place to live so I assigned that job to Yerkin, my general services officer. He showed me three places and I selected one that was half a block from the office with electricity and running water 24 hours a day -- and a piano.
My duties included all administrative duties supporting 200–300 volunteers. Because the cashier reported to me, I had to become a State Department cashier.
I set up an intern program for college students. My first hire was my landlord’s daughter, Assel. When she got married, I was the guest of honor at the wedding. Being the guest of honor, I was presented with the eye of a sheep. Discretely I slid it to Yerkin.
One day I compared the clock at the railroad station to my watch. They did not agree. I asked why the difference and was told that in the former Soviet Union, all trains ran on Moscow time. And they still do.
I had to attend a conference in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. I selected Misha as my driver and took three of my staff with me. We drove thru Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. When we were close to Ashgabat, my gout flared up. Misha called ahead and told them I was in pain. When we got to the office, two medical personnel were waiting for us.
A party had been scheduled for the evening but the doctor said no party for me. I had to stay in my room, drink lots of water and take medication.
Later, there was a knock on my room. I hobbled over and there stood Misha. He came back because it was not fair that I had to be alone when everybody else was enjoying the party.
The next day I felt a little better so Misha and I went sightseeing. In the main square of Ashgabat was a gold-plated statute of the president of Turkmenistan that rotated so that the sun always shone on his face. Then it was back to Almaty. A short time later, I said goodbye to Kazakhstan and returned home.
I was looking for a job and came across Norwalk Adult School where I had taken some computer classes in the past. I went in and asked to see the school director about a job. She came out and asked if I had passed CBEST and if I had a resume with me. My answer to both was yes. She looked at my resume and said, “Oh, you just came back from Kazakhstan. Come into my office.”
And what happened after that is the subject of a separate story that led to many more adventures.