Almaty – talk about propaganda and views on the world

We meet up for the night with three very kind and curious English teachers from Almaty, and have a lot of fun talking about everything that you are not supposed to talk about. It is impressing how open they are. With an honest interest to understand each other’s viewpoints we can discuss anything with them. Our topics are politics, propaganda, ethnic minorities, religion and sexual orientation. The discussions are really tough ones, giving us lots of food for thought.

Especially interesting is the differing view on Russia, e.g. the following example from recent politics: Western media/propaganda often presents Russia as the evil empire supporting a dictator in Syria by fighting his opposition. On the other hand in the Russian media/propaganda colored view that our young friends from Kazakhstan share, is that Russia is the white knight, bravely fighting the IS in Syria while Western powers stay on the side lines watching Syrians suffer. Maybe there is some reason in both perspectives.

Another point where two worlds collide is the perspective on homosexuals. While I point out that being gay or lesbian is something very normal in Germany and the Western world, we feel very strong resentments mixed with quite a bit of homophobia surfacing in our otherwise extremely open minded friends. In fact, pointing out that we have gay and lesbian friends and colleagues, and even an openly gay former foreign minister is quite a surprise for them. I hope we could at least start a thought process that will ultimately lead to a more liberal position in their minds.

We get along very well and by the time the café closes and we are thrown out we realize that we only missed one taboo topic: money! While money may or may not rule the world, this evening was certainly priceless! But you must save something for your next visit…

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