Zhailau Kazakhstan Heritage Camp

Zhailau Kazakhstan Heritage Camp: July 22-27, 2013

Zhailau is the only word I’ve ever googled, and been unable to find a correct pronunciation. So, I went to the real experts, and emailed some of the amazing teachers from the Zhailau Kazakhstan Heritage Camp, and asked them to provide me a phonetic pronunciation.

Dilara Shomayeva, a professional ballerina who performs with the ballet theater in Almaty and teaches traditional Kazakh dance at Zhailau, was the first to reply. I LOVED her answer. She said, I don’t how to write it the phonetic way, but can explain by examples:

Zhailau pronunciation

Ok, I get it now—J-eye-L-auw.

So what does it mean? Zhailau is the summer home of Kazakh nomads. It is also a FUN summer camp celebrating all things Kazakh.Zhailau Kazakstan Heritage Camp

Zhailau happens in the backdrop of beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. The atmosphere is relaxed as families join together for a 5-day gathering where Kazakhstan is the focus. They are joined by the Kazakh community, some of whom fly in from Kazakhstan for the express purpose of joining the Zhailau.

Together they practicing playing the Dombra, learn about falconry and Kazakh history. They make crafts, including leather decorating and shield making. They learn traditional dance, but also have a crazy wild dance night where it is clear that Kazakh people REALLY know how to have fun!

They have horse races and sack races. They eat wonderful Kazakh meals, and have parent workshops on a variety of topics. They swim, canoe, hike and play, and do all the things that bring people closer. It is a wonderful five day event.

Zhailau is run by Kazakh Aul of the U.S., formed in 2004 by Susan Saxon, a mother of a Kazakh-American daughter, and Zhanat Baidaralin, a famous Kazakh ballet master and choreographer. Their website states:

“The organization serves to educate and enrich the lives of children from Kazakhstan who are growing up in the US. Together with their families, children participate in Kazakh heritage camps and cultural education to develop a deeper sense of knowledge and understanding of their birth culture, and how they fit into both the Kazakh and American worlds.”

Culture camp and similar heritage events can provide a sturdy foundation for international adoptees, a foundation they can use to get the very most from their birth country travel experiences. More and more, camps are culturally rich, and provide a fun and safe environment for kids to learn about their birth culture. Equally important, adoptees and adoptive families are finding community and role models, as events strive to involve local and international ethnic communities.

Hats off to all those who make these wonderful events happen, and to all who participate!  

As we head into “Camp Season” watch our blog for highlights of more heritage events, and watch our Camp and Event page for country specific listings

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