Aipery is working on a story about orphans. She went to an intake center where she says “the children still have hope.” From the intake center they can go back to their families or move into facilities. At the intake center the children have their heads shaved because of lice. They wear scarves over their buzz cuts.


Still darkish. Moving from dream to day and I felt the bed tremble. Earthquake.

The official news account:

Southern coast of Lake Issyk-Kul felt 7-intensity tremors from the earthquake this morning, the press service of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Kyrgyzstan said referring to the Seismology Institute.

The quake particularly occurred on November 14 at 7.24 am 6 km east of the village of Kazhi-Sai, according to updated report.

The villages of Kazhi-Sai, Bokonbayevo, Tosor, Ton and Tamga felt the tremors of 7 seismic intensity, the town of Balykchy – 4.5, Karakol – 5, Cholpon-Ata – 4.5, and Naryn – 4. Bishkek felt the earthquake of 3.

Residents of the Issyk-Kul settlements reported that the earthquake damaged their houses. Eyewitnesses described the earthquake as a strong one.

One of the residents of Bokonbayevo thus told AKIpress that cracks appeared on his house.

The Emergency Situations Ministry continues to receive the information about damages.

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IMG_3561photos | Elina Turalyeva

The Gardener | Vladimir Zareyev

As the snow melted and spring gave way to summer, Vladimir Zarayev appeared at AUCA, planting, weeding, pruning and keeping the gardens green. Compact, energetic and deeply tanned, Zarayev has been landscaping and tending to the gardens of AUCA since 2002. “Every day I work with beauty,” he says. “Life has its meaning and nature, too, is alive. That is why nature talks to us and gives us a feeling of harmony, of love, of peace,” he says.

Zarayev designed and planted the university’s landscaping. In the back garden, a thicket of ferns sits beside a walkway. There are hydrangeas, fir trees, geraniums, fruit trees, vines spreading their green carpet onto one of the university’s walls. Flowers shout vibrant colors, sprouts nest in pots until they are ready for planting. “There were a few wild trees here when I started, but I planted almost everything you see,” Zarayev says.

A five-story tall weeping willow stands sentinel over the back courtyard, its feathery branches cascade to make a canopy from the sun. Zarayev calls the tree the mother of the garden. He tends to 1500 square meters by himself and says he is self taught. After the USSR broke up, he worked for himself landscaping new homes before coming to work at AUCA. When asked his favorite flowers, he responds like a father asked to choose his favorite child. “I cannot name just one,” he says. “But I like best clematis, jasmine, roses. Each flower has its purpose, its goal,” he says.

Zarayev says it will take at least two years for him to finish the courtyard garden. He has some smaller fruit trees and shrubs that he wants to see plump up to full health. And he doesn’t mind waiting for the smaller plants to grow. “If you love the job and the work you do, you don’t need patience,” he says.


IMG_3599           photos | Elina Turalyeva

The Barista | Aiperi Aalieva

She stands in a space the size of a cockpit. Facing the control panel, she cranks knobs, adjusts levers, and checks gauges to make sure all systems are go. It’s not an airplane she maneuvers, but a machine that offers a different sort of lift off: 21-year-old Aiperi Aalieva runs the tiny Coffee Mania coffee station on AUCA’s first floor.

For the past two and half years, Aalieva has spent her days caffeinating a steady stream of students, staff and faculty.

“I understand now the language of coffee,” she says.

When she’s not at Coffee Mania, she attends the Academy of Tourism. When she is at Coffee Mania, she sees her work as part psychologist, part performance artist and part barista.

“When I see someone come, I see in their face what is happening. I hear them talk and see their behavior and in my mind I guess what kind of coffee they will have. When some students come and I see they are stressed or upset, when I give them their coffee I tell them I added something extra. Something like a smile or some kindness or some happiness,” she says.

Aalieva says she works 50 hours a week. “Always there are students waiting for me when I get here in the morning.” Her contract says she will begin at 8:30 but Aalieva comes to work early. “In the morning when students have an early class, they want their coffee.”

On busy days she makes up to 40 cups an hour—lattes, macchiatos, smoothies, coffees iced and hot. “I improvise and don’t make the coffee the same way twice. Making coffee should always be improvisation.”

And when the day is over Aalieva says the last thing she wants is to think about coffee. Even though she doesn’t want to, she takes her work home with her. “My clothes and my hair always smell like coffee,” she says. “And so do my hands. Especially my hands.”