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At Home on the Kazakh Steppe

A Peace Corps Memoir
Narrated by: Caroline Miller
Length: 6 hrs and 11 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Summary

Just when her life felt right: new career, new home, new grandchildren, Janet Givens left it all behind and followed her new husband into the Peace Corps. Assigned to Kazakhstan, a Central Asian country finding its own way after generations under Soviet rule, Givens must also find a way to be in a world different from what she knew. And what she expected. Will it be worth it?

©2014, 2015, 2016 Janet Givens (P)2016 Janet Givens

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  • Jennifer Stonecipher
  • 18-02-19

Superbly written, I felt like I was there

This book was so smooth...I felt that I was on the journey with Janet. It had great detail that added to the experience!

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  • mz
  • 31-01-20

A valuable first experience in another culture

The book reads more like a personal journal with a lot of internal thoughts, a LOT at times, gets whiny and unbearable at one point during her most frustrating days. It sounds like a very American person's first time living in another culture. There were many instances where she behaved like a crazy stupid American.

Still, the author's willingness to be frank about these embarrassing instances and overcoming her judgment of another culture through her American lenses redeemed herself.

However, because the author seems to have never lived in a non-Western or even non-American culture, and her familiarity with the culture she was entering was very shallow, seemingly based only on three months of Peace Corps training, and her time there was relatively short to get deep into a culture - two years, the observations of the Kazakh culture remains on the surface. There was no deep analysis or comparison with other similar cultures in Central Asia or other parts of the world, which would have made the book more educational and enjoyable. The book is more like a personal journal. It isn't the type of memoir that has had the benefit of ample research in the history and culture of the geographic region, with intellectual insights derived therefrom. Hearing her personal experience is nice, but one does not learn about the deep roots of the culture.

It also illustrated to me that if one wants to learn about and live in another culture, better start earlier in life than in the 50s. It would be much more beneficial to how we see things in life afterwards and help us understand different people better for a longer period of our lives.